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Don't Read the Comments #outgoodlifebooklist

I stopped "gaming" in the 80s when Atari went out of fashion.  I do admit that I understand the addictive nature of gaming, as my husband and I would meet at our college's Student Center to play Astroids, much like students go and get coffee today!  So the book instantly hooked me and I am so eager to share my thoughts.

Our protagonist Divya, who is popular and has her own gaming channel, has a lot of fans and a lot of online trolls who decide to take out her ship while trying to claim a planet.  Given her popularity, she was devastated by the bully-like behavior.

During a gaming session, she meets a new player who realizes he is meeting Divya.  They strike up a friendship which Aaron, the new player, is all excited about. Divya is a bit aloof since the trolls took out her ship, but she builds a friendship with Aaron with the help of her friend Rebecca, who isn't so sure of Aaron.  The trolls start to dig deep with their bullying and Divya isn't sure she should attend GameCon.  It would be a financial hardship, but is she safe?

I received my free copy of Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith from NetGalley. All opinions, however, are my very own.  I plan to share this book with my favorite middle school teachers.  The topics that the characters deal with are the same that our local children face at times.

Q: What inspired you to write Don't Read the Comments?
A: A mix of things, really. Me and my wife had moved away from Philadelphia for a while, and suddenly all of my friends became virtual. It was taking a while to find my people and a community. At the same time, a big wave of harassment against women, people of color, and the LGBTQ+ community was rising in the video game space, particularly against people creating and writing about games. I had friends who’d become targets.

I couldn’t shake the feeling of… what would it be like, to have a space that felt safe for me, where all my people were, taken away by others who just felt as though I didn’t deserve to be there, because I was different from them?

I’d experienced my share of racism and harassment in digital (and physical) spaces growing up, and wanted to tell a story about fighting back, and being an ally.

Q: Who is your favorite side character? Ryan is currently occupying a soft spot in my heart.

A: Hah! That makes me so happy. Ryan’s heavily based on a very dear friend of mine, so I’m glad you love him as much as I do. He’s probably my favorite as well. He’s quick to point out Aaron’s occasionally problematic behavior, in a way that’s gentle, because he wants his friend to be better. We should all be so lucky to have friends like that. Who aren’t afraid to call you out.

Would you like to comment?

  1. I think comments is an important part of community as well as hacking a Facebook account! Have a look!


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