Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.
Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.
At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…
And she isn’t going down without a fight.
I may not be a gamer (unless you count playing the Harry Potter Lego game on my old Xbox 360), but it’s not a prerequisite for understanding and enjoying this book.
So many important issues are addressed in this story – online safety, internet trolls and bullying, and doxxing, to name a few. Divya is a victim of online harrassment, which is a criminal offense. What happens to her is frightening – but what’s worse is things like this happen every day. The haters are out there, folks.
The author does an outstanding job of writing from a female perspective. Divya’s reaction to these events is inspiring. She’s fierce, determined, and refuses to let the trolls deprive her of her virtual safe space filled with a community of people doing what they enjoy. Aaron is also dealing with some problems of his own, but is a sweetheart and a perfect example of a supportive friend. I loved being in the game, and the vivid imagery made me feel like I was experiencing it along with the characters.
My desire to see the trolls get what they deserve kept me reading long after I should have turned out the light. With the tension-filled buildup, I was ready to see them crash and burn. But then everything seemed to be over rather suddenly, and I still felt as if things were unresolved. Maybe it’s just a revenge thing on my part.
Although this book deals with some heavy issues, it’s also full of clever banter, pop culture references (bonus points for mentioning John Cusack and Say Anything), strong friendships, and a little romance. I plowed through it in two days.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This is release day for Don’t Read the Comments and I’m excited to be part of the blog tour!
Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dont-read-the-comments-eric-smith/1131303425#/
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335016027
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Eric_Smith_Don_t_Read_the_Comments?id=Go6PDwAAQBAJ
Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/