Don't Read the Comments

Don't Read the Comments

by Eric Smith


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781335016027
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication date: 01/28/2020
Edition description: Original
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 108,958
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

ERIC SMITH is an author and literary agent from Elizabeth, New Jersey. When he isn’t working on other people’s books, sometimes he tries to write his own. He can be found writing (and podcasting) for places like Book Riot and Paste magazine, and enjoys pop punk, video games and crying during every movie. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and best friend, Nena; their son, Langston; and a corgi named Auggie.WWW.ERICSMITHROCKS.COM

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Don't Read the Comments 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
diane92345 15 hours ago
If you’re a fan of Twitch or Mixer, Don’t Read the Comments is both good advice and a good read. Divya is a successful “Glitch” gamer who helps her recently divorced mom pay bills from her sponsorship money. [It must be nice to have sponsors. I always laugh when someone at work asks me how much I make from this blog. Eventually, I start talking about how much I’m saving on buying books...] However, online trolls are threatening to dox her (put her real info online for all to see). Her only hope is her online friendship with wannabe game developer, Aaron. Together can they beat the trolls at their own game? I’ve been a gamer and a Twitch-watcher for many years (as well as being a lifelong nerd). So even though I am far from being a young adult, I really enjoyed reading this book. It has many underlying messages about sexism, racism, and bullying. However, I just liked the two main characters, Divya and Aaron, who are both trying to set their own course in life. Cyber bullies and well-meaning family members block them at every turn but they use their gaming skills IRL to fight for what they want. Don’t Read the Comments is a sweet young adult romance set in the world of online gaming. 4 stars! Thanks to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
MkMason 1 days ago
**Thank you to Inkyard Press, Eric Smith, and Netgalley for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review** Divya is a high school student who spends her time on Glitch, a gaming website where she is an influencer. She has thousands of followers and plays the game, Reclaim the Sun, a space exploration gaming program. This is her income as she attempts to support her mom financially through grad school after her father leaves them to start a new life. Divya is known online as D1V, and is always super careful about how much personal information she gives out. Unfortunately, she is attacked in the game by some racist, sexist dudes who send her a photo of her house to scare her. Don't Read the Comments follows Divya as she deals with online trolls who take the trolling off the internet and into her life, while she is also trying to learn how to trust people. It's a hard task for her, let me tell you. Divya meets Aaron, the other POV in this book, within the game and over the book she learns to trust him even which the attacks happening to her and her family. Aaron is a gamer whose dream is to write the scripts for games, not be a doctor like his mom wants. He works for his friend who owns a gaming company, even though the money for his work hasn't come around yet. His story follows him helping Divya and dealing with his career and life within the gaming community. I enjoyed this book, even though gaming is not my style. It was a great story about online trolling, the rampant racism and sexism in the gaming community, and find friendship among the fray. There is assault, harassment, and hurtful comments thrown at Divya because "she deserves it" for being well known on the internet and being a brown girl in gaming. It's super annoying, but unfortunately accurate to how people are treated in male dominated areas. I enjoyed the dual POV's a lot, it was nice to see the story from both Divya and Aaron's perspectives. Their stories intertwine but are still very separate. The love story is nice and simply, not much because they are high schoolers. The focus is more on the friendship and trust between two people who met online rather than the romantic nature that could happen between them. For fans of video games and contemporary novels, Don't Read the Comments will be the nerdy book you've been waiting for.
Anonymous 9 days ago
Thanks to NetGalley and to Inkyard Press for sending me an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review! Divya is pretty famous on the Glitch streaming service for playing the new planet exploration game Reclaim The Sun as D1V. For Divya, streaming isn't just for fun, it's her livelihood and it's how she helps her mom pay rent every month. Aaron is an aspiring video game writer with a Frankenstein's monster of a computer whose parents are betting on him to take over the family business which includes him going to med school. After D1V is attacked in Reclaim The Sun by a group of trolls that call themselves Vox Populi, the Popular Opinion in Latin, she loses all of her progress and is forced to start over. While trying to grind up some resources she crosses paths with Aaron who is a bit star struck after meeting one of his favorite streamers. The two strike up a friendship while everything else seems to fall apart. This is a very important book for women and people of color, anyone who has anything to do with social media or the gaming community. It shines a harsh light on the reality of the scores of women who play video games. It shows the online harassment that could easily transition into real-life aggression, the dangers of having any presence on social media as a woman or a person of color. Just as it shows how horrible people can be under the veil of anonymity, it also shows how great people can be as well. Even with all the darkness, it's a beacon of hope. As a female gamer, this book really resonated with me. I loved all the references, I felt like I was understood. I'm not exactly in the age bracket that Divya is, but I was once upon a time when it was almost as bad to be a female gamer. I also went to school for game design so I understand Aaron's experience with an indie developer since I've had something similar happen to me. This book even made me want to go buy No Man's Sky since that's what Reclaim The Sun feels like it's inspired by. That said. I loved it. Five stars.
Literary_Lion 11 days ago
Books about geek girls always end up on my TBR, so I was thrilled to receive an ARC of this one so I could get ahead of the game. Don’t Read the Comments is about a female streamer struggling with how women are currently treated in the gaming community, so it’s still fairly timely and relevant. In theory I should have loved this book, and there were things I DID love. Smith clearly understands quite a lot about gaming culture and it showed. The world of Reclaim the Sun was fun to read about, and I loved seeing Aaron help make games…but. The but is a lot of things that kept this book from being a five star read. First and foremost is how big and dramatic everything is. Certainly female gamers get harassed in real life but the levels Smith takes D1V’s harassment to so quickly makes it feel comical instead of serious. It doesn’t feel like this is a real thing happening to a real person by the end. The same goes for Aaron’s conflict with Jason. Jason feels like an evil villain. He doesn’t feel like a well rounded character and the way the plot ends is just as ridiculous. It doesn’t feel like something that could happen in the real world. The ending is perhaps what bothers me the most, it’s way too feel good. Situations like this in real life rarely tie up with a nice little knot the way this story handles all its conflicts. At the same time it doesn’t feel satisfying because no one really wins. Everyone is losing something major so you can’t even feel good about the ridiculous ending because even if evil is vanquished they sort of got what they wanted anyways. It’s complicated. I also didn’t like the copious amount of subplots and random things going on. Aaron’s crush on Jason. Aaron not wanting to work at the clinic. Aaron’s dad having a secret folder. D1V’s mom struggling financially. D1V’s best friend struggling to recover from assault. There are just so many sidelines that none of them really get explored thoroughly and the ending feels like it’s rushing to tie everything up. I think Smith had something here, but he just doesn’t quite hit it out of the park execution wise which is a horrible shame.
AMGiacomasso 14 days ago
This book touched some emotional cords and brought back some memories of my net life. Harassment of women on the net is as old as the first mailing list of newsgroup and it get worse. I'm old enough to have been a member of various newsgroups and I remember it was not easy as the moment you started to be popular it was always the moment you started to be harassed by some troll. It's even worse for women gamer as it is considered a male only world and you will always find the group of guys who think is great to use you as an outlet for their own frustrations. These are the reasons I think this book should be read by kids who are online because it talks about a harsh reality that shouldn't be hidden and to help girls who are being harassed to feel empowered and react. The story is realistic and I loved the description of the gaming world as it was well done and didn't play down or sugar coat what can happen. Dyva and Aaron are two great characters, realistic and relatable. Same happens for the secondary characters who are all well thought and realistic. The story flows and once you start reading you cannot put this book down as it's a gripping and enjoyable read that makes you root for the characters and cheers at the ending. It was an excellent read, I strongly recommend it. Many thanks to Inkyard Press and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Anonymous 14 days ago
Games. Teens. Love. Heart. Fear. Feminism. Fight. Friendship. Excitement. This book has it all. D1V is a famous gamer who is known for her streams of Reclaim the Sun and her followers known as the #AngstArmada. Behind the screen, however, she is struggling to keep her family afloat; barely making rent while providing enough so her mom can finish her degree before D1V, or Divya IRL, can go back to school. She works with her best friend Rebekah and enjoys it, most of the time, especially behind the safety of a screen. Aaron, who dreams of writing the text for future games, is very much in the real world. He has friends, he has crushes, and he has aspirations. But he is stuck in real life - floating along waiting to get paid for his last gig. As things get complicated for both characters, they find themselves meeting and fighting against enemies, both hidden on the internet and face to face. They find their humanity while also fighting for what's right, but potentially with real, physical consequences. This amazing. It may be one of my favorites I've read. D1V is an amazing character; she is fierce, feminist, and unafraid. Aaron is sweet and naive, and thankfully D1V is not afraid to call him on it. This book started as a fun gaming story where these two meet and internet trolls get in the way, but it developed into something of a feminist manifesto with action, fight, and growth. The end is relatively vanilla and somewhat expected, but it happens in such a genuine way that I didn't mind it. I highly recommend getting and reading this book. Young femmes need to know the fight is within them, especially if what they love is considered for 'boys'. and young males need to know it is not their place to save those femmes - through listening they can learn a lot. (This book does feature CIS characters, so please keep that in mind in regards to my final paragraph here.) Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I really liked this book and I hope it sells out everywhere!
JillJemmett 15 days ago
This is a great story about gaming and the dangers that can come along with it. Divya is a famous gamer, who streams her game play with her friend Rebekah. She meets Aaron in the game and they become friends online. At the same time, Divya begins to be harassed by a group of guys who start attacking her in the game. It escalates to real life, with them attacking her and her mother at their home. Many parts of this story were realistic. It can be dangerous to put your personal information online. Divya thought she was hiding her identity, but some other players still found her. Even when Aaron wanted to meet her in real life, she was careful about not giving away any real information. The sexism and racism in this story was unfortunately realistic too. The guys were attacking her just because she is a woman of colour who likes to play video games. That should have nothing to do with her ability to play what she likes. I don’t understand how people can think the way they do, but it does happen in the gaming community. I really loved this story! Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
booksnbites13 16 days ago
I instantly fell in love with Divya Sharma, our main character, and her passion for family and to fight back in the face of social injustice. There really is nothing that I love more than a fiery, young female protagonist and Eric Smith did just that with Divya. Her love and loyalty to her mother is so raw and endearing. Then we have Aaron, a passionate young man who just wants to make a go of it on his own to pursue his passion of writing scripts for video games, even if it’s not what his parents want for him. The two family dynamics really made this whole story incredibly relatable. I really loved that Divya is a live gamer and has such a huge following, yet Aaron just does it for fun. The game that they play, Reclaim the Sun, sounds so amazing that I really wish it was real. I’d love to play it!! Then enter the issue of cyber bullying. This is always going to be an ongoing issue in our society, especially because the internet makes it so easy for cowards and psychos to hide behind made up internet personalities so they can target minorities. The issue of the target being a young girl of ethnic background helps bring the issue to the forefront. I did feel that the detective was a little hokie with her speech on creating a task force to take care of it in the area, but the focus was on the kids and the cyber-bullying so it was a minor irk of mine. I absolutely loved the ending, and without giving too much away because no-one loves spoilers, it had me jumping onto my feet and cheering! As I finished the last page I had a cheesy grin on my face, which I would expect nothing less from Eric Smith. This is a great story about how no-one should put up with bullying, regardless of where it happens or who it happens to. It is not ok, and you have every right to speak up and get help! It’s too easy now a days for instances like this to happen online, and I felt that Don’t Read The Comments was a great way to bring issues like this to light and to show that gamer chicks totally rock!
Yolanda Margolin 16 days ago
**Review will be posted to my blog on Jan. 27, 2020** Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC. Don’t Read the Comments hit home for me because my son, he’s 7, wants to be a YouTuber, gamer, streamer – and I’m trying to learn the lingo. Can you tell? My hubby is a PC Gamer and my son is already following in his footsteps so the fact that this story is about the gaming world – is awesome. What I Liked: *Just this being about the gaming industry was interesting to me because my son and hubby are gamers. I own a Nintendo Switch lite so I’m not big on it – but it’s eye opening to see the problems that are present in the gaming world with the trolls bothering Divya and ruining her reputation to seeing the process of Aaron and his friends creating a game. I like how we see two sides to the gaming industry. *Diversity is a given in this book and I like that. *This book shined a light on girl gamers in this masculine world – it’s amazing what they have to put up with in the online world and the real world. Some real world problems that arose in the book was connected not only to Divya but her best friend, Rebekah, who was assaulted by a group of boys at her college. The fear is there in Divya and Rebekah and I’m glad the story didn’t shy away from what they felt. The story also brought up issues like bullying, trolling and doxing. *Divya and Aaron’s relationship is a slow burn and they don’t meet in real life until late in the book. But their relationship is cute because it starts off as friendship. I enjoyed watching the two of them get to know each other. *Love that no matter how hard it got for Divya, with those trolls harassing her – she kept fighting back. Even though she was scared, she fought back. *Aaron’s family dynamics seems like what most parent/teen relationship would be like when said teen wants a career in gaming. Already I have talks with my son trying to point out that games are made and created, someone takes the time to illustrate the graphics, the story line, the big companies that make them, etc…and he’s 7!! I relate to Aaron’s mom wanting the best for your child and a steady path, a steady career…you know – with benefits and a retirement package. Things That Made Me Go Hmmm: *I was interested in this book because I have gamers in my life. For people not into gaming, I don’t know how much this story would interest them. There is a lot that takes place in a virtual world, the online game that Divya plays. I found it fun and interesting, but I don’t know if that is everyone’s cup of tea. *Triggers: memories of assault, harassment, online trolling/bullying Final Thoughts: Like I said earlier, this one hit close to home for me and it made me learn a lot of things I didn’t know about the gaming world. I loved how it show cases the gamer and the game creator. Most importantly it brought up the issues of the toxic online culture that is present in the gaming world and social media and it talks about boundaries too. I enjoyed this one and it was a super quick read for me. I look forward to reading more books from this author!
Brooke Allen 18 days ago
I LOVED this book. The chapters flew by, especially towards the end. Divya is a girl whose family has had some financial difficulties since her parent's divorce. She's helping her family (which is just her and mom now) financially by hosting a popular stream on the hot new video game, Reclaim the Sun. Her mom only has one semester before she gets an advanced degree and their finances will start looking up. Then she runs into a few trolls who take it a little too far, and start harassing her in real life. In the meantime, she meets a guy online, Aaron, who has his own set of problems. His mom wants him to become a doctor, but he wants to write video game scripts. He's been working with a guy named Jason from the indie game company ManaPunk, but Jason hasn't paid him yet. You're just going to have to read the book to see how all of this works out. This book has all the video game feels, so if you're a gamer, you're already probably going to like it. It brings up a lot of real world issues, like the harassment of females in video games. Although I haven't experienced it personally, many high-ranking female players have (see p. 84 of Wired Magazine, January 2018). Another issue it addresses is how sometimes companies try to take advantage of artists by using their work without paying them. These are serious issues in real life, but it's tackled under a very engaging story. I definitely recommend it, especially if you enjoyed Ready Player One or the Warcross duology.
SevenAcreBooks 19 days ago
I finished Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith in one glorious sitting and enjoyed every single page of this wonderful book. There is a lot to love in this book. There is the fun and witty banter between Divya and her friends, strong friendships that are able to weather the storm that can be the online world, and the struggle to balance family obligations with personal hopes and dreams. Smith writes with real care and love for his characters and you can feel it on every page. This book will give video game lovers a thoughtful look behind the scenes of sponsorship, time commitments, and the effects that trolls have on the very real lives of those who make their living online. I can’t recommend it enough. Thank you to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for the opportunity to read and review this title. All opinions and mistakes are my own.
KaileyReadsYA 20 days ago
I loved this book. I went in expecting to like it, but not love it, simply because I am someone who knows little to nothing about gaming. I've never been into it, even when I tried games everyone else seemed to like. So, I didn't think I'd care much for that aspect of the book. I thought I'd like the overall storyline, hopefully connect with the characters, and enjoy the differing voices with the alternating POVs. Well, I did like all those things but also I actually enjoyed the gaming aspect. Don't get me wrong, I still don't understand video games or watching other people play them. There's something one of the characters says that makes a lot of sense. She tells us it's just like watching sports instead of playing them. Not everyone likes that either, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be something people do or enjoy. I know people are probably like "why would you read a book about gamers if you don't like them?" Truthfully, I'd heard good things about the author and I wanted to know what everyone was talking about--because my twitter timeline was full of people talking about this book. And with good reason. A lot of books about people in certain industries can tend to feel like they're only for people who like those things. This one didn't do that at all. Instead it made me feel connected to the characters despite the fact that I'm no gamer by any means. But it wasn't just that I could relate even as someone who isn't a part of that world. It was the overall messages the book sends. I felt every instance Div felt unsafe. I was with Rebekah when she was reliving her trauma. I could see myself in the moments of their strength standing up for what they loved and believed in. The decisions they made for themselves and for the overall bettering of their lives were decisions I've seen my friends and myself struggle with all the time. And we aren't internet famous. I loved that the book wasn't trying to tone down the realities faced by prominent women online, or play them up in such a way as to seem totally unrealistic. I've seen both and, let me tell you, not a good look from an author. Smith did great here. Also, Aaron was adorable. Such a good, supportive boy. We love and support his character forever. Ryan, too, was a highlight, even just a side character. They were done well (though Div will always be my favorite). I 100% recommend this book to anyone. I don't care what you normally read. You need to at least try this book. Because it's worth the read in every way.
ruthsic 20 days ago
Don't Read the Comments is about toxicity in the gaming community, and is told through the viewpoints of Divya, a popular streamer, and Aaron, an aspiring writer who wants to work in the gaming industry. Divya's story is about her being the target of online trolls who escalate the situation from trolling to outright assault and invasion of her digital life. In her real life, she uses the money from sponsorships to contribute to her household, and for her mother's college fees, so being a popular streamer is her livelihood. However, racist and misogynistic trolls think she doesn't have a place in the gaming community, and start attacking and threatening her. She meets Aaron online in the game, and they become friends; him being featured on one of her streams has him tangentially involved in the matter, but he wants to help and support her in any way he can. As the harassment escalates, though, she has to decide whether or not she wants to continue with her streaming, and how to fight back when they take it away from her. Divya shines as the main character in the story - she is fierce, outspoken and sure of herself. She has a policy of 'don't read the comments', to ignore the trolls. She is careful of her public profiles, which is why when she first receives threats, she hopes it won't get worse. Later, though, she reaches out to a sympathetic police officer who helps her and her friend Rebecca. In comparison, Aaron's story didn't have as much weight to it - there's a subplot about him fighting to go after his passion, and his issues with a gaming company he works for, who screw with him, but overall his story felt like it was sort of intersecting with hers at most. The romance itself didn't have much to it - which, fair, considering she has bigger fish to fry, and with her paranoia and caution about online folks, it would be difficult anyway; it was written well as a friendship, though. The in-game scenes were pretty good. Even as a non-gamer, I enjoyed how they explored the game and how much it meant to them, plus all the adventures they had. The game also added a sci-fi element to it, considering in the game they were exploring planets. And while the story is about the toxic faction of gaming communities, there were also good parts, like Divya's Angst Armada - a collective of her fans who stand by her, and support her. Best of all, this was a quick read - I finished it in one go!
TheKnightsWhoSayBook 20 days ago
The writing style of contemporary YA coming out now just isn't doing it for me. While this book is pretty cute and extremely culturally relevant, and I think will resonate with a lot of people, it wasn't personally my favorite read. Like, it was by no means bad! But it didn't deliver emotion like an electric charge to the heart the way, say, Gena/Finn or Eliza and Her Monsters do. It makes total sense for this book to come out now and address how women and people of color and especially women of color face harassment on the internet, and especially how that works in gaming circles. I was surprised that the book didn't more directly talk about real life instances like gamergate, even in a fictionalized version — it would have helped express how what happens to Divya doesn't happen in a bubble. But maybe there wasn't room for that, with two main characters. Aaron's plotline again deals with prevalent current issues — how the video game industry takes advantage of workers — but again, it's very focused on his experience and doesn't really allude to how far-reaching the problem is. I like that Aaron's so gentle and supportive of Divya, but because the writing style wasn't doing it for me in terms of the emotional pay off, I didn't really get into shipping them. This is a book I'd read for the plot, not the writing.
CCholger 20 days ago
3.5 stars This is a new-to-me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. And, to be quite honest, I don’t read an awful lot of male writers. That’s not intentional, it’s just that my most read genre (romance) is majority female writers. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I tried to go in with an open mind. While this story was a slow starter for me, it did end up hooking me about 1/3 of the way into the book. So hang in there! I felt as though both Divya and Aaron got lost in thought with inconsequential details a bit too much in the beginning. That is something that goes away as the story continues. There are actually a lot of things I love about this book. The first being that the main characters, who are potential love interests, have a small age gap where the woman is actually older than the man. That isn’t done often in YA unless an issue is made out of the ages. It’s not even addressed and I love that! As much as I wanted to know a bit more about Divya’s parents and what happened there, I soon found it didn’t matter. I enjoy her unity with her mom and the fact that she recognizes all the sacrifices her mom has made through the years. Her mom is a wonderful character that we don’t see quite enough of, but this story isn’t about her. Divya’s best friend, Rebekah, and Aaron’s best friend Ryan, are the perfect sidekicks (for lack of a better word) for these two. Compassionate and supportive, they also serve as each character’s Jiminy Cricket…their little conscience on their shoulders. I am not a gamer, but still found myself enjoying this story quite a bit. I couldn’t help but wonder what my (now grown) sons would think of the story. They are both avid gamers and I may get this one for my oldest, who also enjoys reading. Whether I can get him to read a YA book when he’s almost 26 is another question. Not quite his wheelhouse, but he is curious by nature so I may convince him. This story has more going on than gaming. With everything that is done online these days, trolls aren’t relegated to gaming only. There’s a bigger picture to be looked at here, and I believe this story alluded to that. Which makes it a good story for teens; it’s possibly a good guide to how to handle trolls. Rule number one…don’t keep trolling a secret from those who care about you and can help you. And Don’t Read the Comments! (Sorry not sorry.)
Surrah19 20 days ago
I think this is a book that all the teenagers out there need to read. It is really poignant in the struggles of being young and higher profile. And honestly, it happens all the time to young people in general. What do I mean by “it”? Running into jerks hiding behind screens… computer screens, streaming devices, etc. We ALL run into them. And being a popular streamer doesn’t help Divya. She’s built a brand and is awesome at what she does and yet other people want to bring her down. She doesn’t always handle things well but she is brave and inspirational as she goes on this journey and stands up even when her life is threatened. Five stars, Eric Smith, and I’m clapping. This is an important read this year and I highly, highly recommend it! Thank you to Inkyard Press for the opportunity to read this book. I have voluntarily provided this review and the opinion expressed is my own.
Lauren_LoveYoShelf 20 days ago
From the get go, Don't Read the Comments is a story you just fall into. It's immersive, and adorable, and most importantly, impactful. Eric Smith doesn't shy away from hard topics, including assault and what happens (or doesn't happen) afterwards, doxxing, being taken advantage of by people we consider friends, and the struggles of families trying to get by and build a better future. Whether it's how to establish boundaries for yourself or how to respect other people's boundaries, anyone who has an internet presence can learn something from Don't Read the Comments. Read my full review here:
WovenFromWords 21 days ago
I received 'Don't Read the Comments' from NetGalley, in exchange of an honest review. 'Don't Read the Comments' was a very amusing and emotional story about the online gaming community. The characters Divya and Aaron live their lives as young adults trying to make life better for their families while playing their favorite game Reclaim the Sun. Diverse representation was also proudly featured in this story, having the main characters be people of color. 'Don't Read the Comments' describes the harassment women face within the gaming community in explicit detail. It was truly heartbreaking reading about Divya's dilemma as online trolls threaten her very livelihood, and that of her close friends. The story also details the apathy many people carry around when it comes to the safety of children playing online games. These are different times, where many social experiences are communicated online. The overall themes expressed in this story are friendship and trust. Divya and Aaron live in separate regions, yet they learn to communicate without reservation from the moment they're placed together by circumstance. It was sweet reading each interaction as they learn more about each other's lives! 'Don't Read the Comments' is a heartfelt book that features the power of community within the gaming world. I highly recommend it!  Cathleen (Woven From Words)
tpolen 21 days ago
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 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.
MargoKelly 21 days ago
Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith is a fun quick read! At first, I was concerned that this story would only appeal to gamers, with terms like doxxing, trolling, and streaming. (Doxxing--or doxing--means, according to Google: "searching for and publishing private or identifying information about a particular individual on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.") But even with gaming description and terminology, this story will appeal to all fans of young adult literature. With diverse characters, a captivating plot, and unique settings, Don't Read the Comments kept my attention from the first to the last page! I enjoyed almost all the characters, except for Divya's mom. She relied on Divya too much and had huge blinders on when it came to Divya's needs. And, actually, Aaron's mom, too, was not my favorite. I wanted at least one mom who encouraged and facilitated their child's dreams. But the story wasn't necessarily about the moms. It was about the teens who wanted to enjoy and pursue their online gaming experiences without being harassed by stupid Internet trolls. Seriously, don't those people have better things to do with their time?! They need a worthwhile hobby or a team sport to better utilize their energy! I do wish the characters had been developed a bit more with richer, fuller arcs. Specifically, I wanted Rebekah's inner demons resolved. Aaron, by far, was my favorite character! The sections that feature gaming details read like a science-fiction novel. It was fun to have a sci-fi element embedded within a contemporary novel. For example: "With a hum, the landing pads extend, emitting a soft rumbling under my feet." However, some of the gaming references and details felt like commercials for products. "...plugins courtesy of Samsung." If language matters to you, there are a few f-words spattered throughout, but overall there are minimal cuss words. There were sections that made me gasp. Such as the moment Divya realizes just how close the trolls have gotten to her in the real world: "I click it. It opens. And I see a photograph of my apartment building. My breath catches in my throat. How? How could this have happened?" Overall, I highly enjoyed Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith. The writing is terrific and the story is fun. [I received an early copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]
Tessa_Pulyer 21 days ago
Favorite character: Mira Mira is Aaron's 5-year-old sister, and I chose her as my favorite character because I think she is particularly well written, and her dialogue literally had me laughing out loud. She says things that are a total embarrassment to those around her, just like any 5-year-old does, and she wants others to treat her like she's older than she is. For instance, she insists on a whole piece of pizza, but she's really not ready for it, and the cheese slides off, landing in her lap. These are small little scenes, but if you have ever spent any time with a child this age, you know how much they ring true. What I Loved The gaming world is a mystery to people who do not play. The majority of the people who regularly play games, especially multiplayer online games, look at it healthily- as a hobby that they understand is just a game. But others use it to create a world where they can feel powerful and feed their self-esteem when the real world isn't so accommodating. Harassment is rampant, and sexism/sexual harassment happens disturbingly often. One of the things I love most about this story is its accurate portrayal of the gaming world, especially the problems that female players face within that world. I also love the budding relationship between Aaron and Divya. It is so sweet and innocent. Sometimes, in this world of online dating, we lose the innocence that once was the norm. It is so refreshing to watch the pair as they slowly get to know one another and the smart way Divya puts the breaks on when she feels things are moving too fast for her comfort level. The story is very entertaining and kept me moving quickly through the pages by masterfully using the element of suspense. The dialogue flowed easily and naturally. Due to the nature of the plot – a large percentage being online chat - I think this was the biggest and most necessary strength of the novel. Divya appears not to be a fully developed character, but I could understand why she lacked dimension. It is a necessary part of who she is. Just as she shut out the people around her to protect herself, she also has the walls up to the reader. Since it is written in the first person, this makes sense. Other characters were sincere in their likability or justifiably unlikable. What I Wish I wish that the reader had a more omniscient view of Divya so we could have felt the sincerity of her feelings in all she was going through. Divya could be a very likable and relatable character if she had more depth and dimension. To Read or Not to Read YA fans will love this sincere and spellbinding tale of a girl who defeats the odds through the world of online gaming. Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and a special thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and Justine Sha for my spot on the blog tour.
Cat_Reader 21 days ago
I'm not a great knowledgeable of the gaming universe, but as I liked this synopsis so much I decided to read the book and I didn't regret it. With a light writing, the author made me dive into the plot and feel like a player with all the tensions of each move and its interactions. Divya loves to play but is a little tired of sexist troll attacks. With her friend Rebekah, she struggles to stay active and with sponsors but it is not so easy. After attacks happen in both the game and in real life, she fears for her safety and the safety of her mother. Aaron loves creating scripts for games and is a little concerned about the pressure his mother puts on him to focus his efforts on studying medicine. Now he and his friend Ryan are working for a company in this business and he is very satisfied with what they are producing even though he does not see much enthusiasm in their boss. He takes great care of his younger sister, Mira, and whenever he can he lets her play with him and it is in one of those moments that he meets the famous player D1V. The virtual friendship between Divya and Aaron gradually grows and little by little they find themselves involved with each other but Divya is afraid to meet with him personally and be disappointed. Aaron will need to be very patient and show his strength if he wants to win this girl. The story surprised me and swallowed me up quickly and what I found most interesting was the fact that the writer created a character with protection syndrome who is Aaron and put a character who really knows how to fight for herself who is Mira. At a crucial moment in history, Eric Smith shows the reactions of these characters in a way that differs greatly from what we see in many books and I loved it so much. A story about family values, about prejudice in the virtual world and its dangers and about the strength of great virtual and face-to-face friendships. I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely. 5/5 stars
nfam 21 days ago
Danger and Romance in the VR Gaming World Divya, known as D1V in the gaming world, is a star when it comes to leading her #AngstArmada through the vast virtual universe of Reclaim the Sun. With her friend Rebekah, as producer, she posts videos of her conquests. She has enough fans that she has sponsorships. She’s able to sell the products she receives to help pay the rent and help her mother finish her courses. However, there are trolls out there and they are intent on driving Divya out of the gaming world. Aaron’s whole desire is to be a game developer. This conflicts with his mother’s plan to have him become a doctor like her. He loves writing games for a local developer, but there are problems in that relationship. He uses time playing Reclaim the Sun to get away from his everyday difficulties. There he meets Divya. Aaron and Divya are attracted. Through the game they get to know each other and as danger becomes more real, help each other. This is a great contemporary story that is almost science fiction. It explores topics important to YA readers in today’s world: racism, sexism, and doxing. Whether you’re a gamer, or not, this is a good story with a delightful romance between two geeky teenagers. I received this book from Harlequin for this review.
kozbisa 21 days ago
Divya, a popular streaming gamer, and Aaron, a video game writer, accidentally meet on an uncharted planet...while playing Reclaim the Sun. A friendship began to grow between them, but as Divya battled online harassment, doxing, and real-life assaults, she began to rethink her life online. This was not the first book I have read, that tackled issues surrounding online gaming, but I do feel like it was one of the more immersive experiences for me. I would be hard pressed to learn that Eric Smith was not a gaming enthusiast, because the passages, where I was in-game, had that world springing from the page. Those pieces were so descriptive and dynamic, and they captivated even a game-dabbler, such as myself. Though there was a lot of focus on the ills of life online, I liked that Smith highlighted some of the positive parts too. The sexual harassment, racism, and classism associated with the gaming world is well known, and an unfortunate part of it all, but when you can find your people, it can make a world of difference. There were several A+ moments, where we saw Divya's Angst Armada go to bat for her, both online and in real life. I loved how those virtual alliances were able to manifest off-line. Rebekah was another fantastic online friend, who became a very important person in Divya's world. She was not only her streaming partner, she was her best friend, and they offered a great deal of support to each other, as well as other girl gamers. My favorite relationship Divya made online was with Aaron. Aaron's family wanted him to become a doctor and take over the family business, but he aspired to write video games. His storyline gave a peek into what it takes to develop an online game, which I found really interesting, but honestly, I just simply adored him. Aaron was so sweet and kind. He was the exact opposite of the toxic males, who were making Divya's life miserable. I loved that Smith wrote him to be sensitive. He loved his little sister and had a healthy relationship with his parents (who were wonderful). He had discussions about his feelings and would even hug it out when necessary. And, his interactions with Divya were pretty special and smile inducing. They were fabulous together, and I was shipping them hard. Overall: A fun, yet honest, look at the world of online gaming, featuring family, friendship, and a little bit of romance.