Level Up

Level Up


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Level Up by Gene Luen Yang, Thien Pham

From Gene Luen Yang, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and author of American Born Chinese, comes a magical realist coming-of-age tale, by turns whimsical and deadly serious.

Nothing is what it seems when life collides with video games.

Dennis Ouyang has always struggled in the shadow of his parents’ expectations: Stay focused in high school, do well in college, go to medical school, and become a gastroenterologist.

But between his father’s death, his academic burnout, and his deep (and distracting) love of video games, Dennis can’t endure. He’s kicked out of college. And that’s when things get . . . weird.

Four adorable—but bossy—angels, straight out of a sappy greeting card, appear and take charge of Dennis’s life. He’s back on track to become a gastroenterologist. But is he living the life he wants?

Partnered with the deceptively simple, cute art of Thien Pham, Gene Yang has returned to the subject he revolutionized with American Born Chinese. Whimsical and serious by turns, Level Up is a new look at the tale that Yang has made his own: coming of age as an Asian American.

Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, and is the author of American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Shadow Hero, and Secret Coders.

A New York Times Notable Children's Book (Young Adult) for 2011
A YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults
A YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens
An Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Title
A New York Times Notable Children’s Book

“Deliciously imaginative . . . uproariously funny . . . A book so good, it’s hard not to fall back on reviewers’ clichés.” —The New York Times

“A manifesto for everyone who's ever wrestled with the expectations of their family, their friends, and their society (and who hasn't?), and it's ultimately both humane and inspiring.” —Boing Boing

“A piquant, multilayered coming-of-age fable for the wired generation.” —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250108111
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 07/19/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 199,862
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Gene Luen Yang is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant. He is a New York Times bestselling graphic novelist whose award-winning work includes American Born Chinese, a Printz and Eisner Award-winner and National Book Award finalist; Boxers & Saints; The Shadow Hero; and Eisner Award-winning The Eternal Smile.

Thien Pham is a comic book and visual artist, as well as a high school teacher. His first solo graphic novel was Sumo.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. Level Up is a graphic novel, a story told in words and pictures. How do you think this story would be told differently if it was a novel, with only words? How would it be different if it was a movie, with just pictures?

2. The cover of Level Up very specifically alludes to the look of a Nintendo Gameboy, one of the seminal hand-held video game systems. How did the cover affect your perceptions of the kind of story you expected Level Up to be? Was the book what you expected?

3. The dedication of Level Up reads; ‘Dedicated to our brothers Jon and Thinh, both of whom work in the medical field, for being the good Asian sons.' What does this say about the author and illustrators' attitude towards their own families and professions? Do you think their families and career choices affected the way they told this story?

4. At the beginning of the book, on page 19, Dennis starts out with three heads, or lives, hovering in the corner of his screen. This symbolic marker reappears throughout the story. What meaning do you think it conveys? Is it an effective storytelling tool?

5. What do you think you would do if four angels showed up to inform you of what your destiny was? Would you go along with them, or would you want to make your own choices?

6. "Choose your own destiny," says Dennis' friend Kat. But his friend Ipsha tells him that he's surrounded by family, friends and influences, and that he can never really make a decision without taking all of them into account. Which of the two viewpoints about destiny do you think is more accurate?

7. Level Up (and the angels' desire for Dennis to become a gastroenterologist) was inspired by the high incidence rate of liver cancer among Asian Americans. How would you feel if there was a medical problem or condition that affected your specific demographic and you had the potential to be able to treat it or find a cure? Would you feel pressured to follow that road in life even if it wasn't the life you dreamed of?

8. At the end of the book, Dennis decides to leave the world of video games and re-enroll in medical school. Do you think that was the right decision? What decision would you have made in his place?

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Level Up 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story and illustrations. The best. Give us more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book is the best book i have ever read i love gene yang his work has the best endings i read the book in an hour i love this i wish they would make another book, i have all hi s books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago