Book Review: Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith

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Angus & Robertson:


Published in Australia on the 20th January, 2020 by HQ Young Adult – an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Australian RRP: $19.99

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction.

Page Count: 352

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from HarperCollins:

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 mum 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.

My Review:

I absolutely adored Don’t Read The Comments! It is an ode and celebration of geeky gaming culture and I loved every moment of it! I feel like there’s a lot to celebrate about this book!!

Firstly, the characters are utterly amazing and just written so naturally!! They leapt off the page and their interactions just worked perfectly! I love how Divya knew she wasn’t going to back down after being faced with a brutal band of internet trolls, the Vox Populi, who practically want to ruin her!

It’s utterly despicable that online trolls exist in the internet realm, I feel like this book deals with them so well and it just made me so mad, how dare the Vox Populi try and tear Divya and Becca down, let alone the fact that they egg Divya’s Mother! It’s just so horrible what this ruthless band of trolls put Divya through, but I cannot tell you how happy it made me that not once did she even consider backing down! The fact that they also bring her best friend down too, it just infuriates her even more and has her determined to stand against them!! And Divya has a wonderful armada crew behind her too, so I love how she was never truly alone in her fight!

Both Divya and Aaron are just such natural, relatable characters! Although Divya, known in the online realm as D1V, as one of the most popular stream gamers, gets all kinds of sponsorships from famous brands, it’s not at all hidden that she struggles to help her Mum pay for the rent, often selling off some of the fancy accessories she gets given to do so! See, Divya wants to help her Mother who has sacrificed a lot for her, yet she still can’t ignore she’d like to break free one day once she’s helped her mum enough to comfortably graduate from school! But of course, Divya has dreams of her own, honestly I just loved her character so much and I wanted her to do well!! Which she so clearly was! I loved it so much, reading about the moments when she logged on and went exploring through Reclaim the Sun, I mean I loved the intricate detail when this VR game was detailed! It’s a space exploration game where characters can build an avatar and explore the infinite galaxy and claim planets and when Divya slipped on her VR gear it felt like I was right there playing the game too! It was just so horrifying though when the Vox Populi try and tear her down and make it clear that they don’t want her playing games and that it’s people like them that ruin it all!

It’s like, if anything, it’s the internet trolls like the Vox Populi that ruin online communities! Any corner of the internet, any community, should really be a safe place for anyone but it’s not often the case (sadly) and Eric Smith just does such a good job writing about how Divya takes a stand against these horrible people!

I love the same significance and simplicity of the title, too. It’s right there at the start of the book, clear as crystal! Don’t Read The Comments is exactly what it alludes to – not reading the nasty and malicious comments as they’re posted on social media, in any form! It’s told to Divya by her Mother, who of course is naturally concerned about the malicious and hurtful comments that her daughter is faced with. I loved the tenderness of their relationship, the fierce protectiveness between Mother and Daughter, which then just brings me to Divya’s fierce determination to shut those trolls down!!

I loved the dynamic that Divya had with her best friend Rebekah, how protective she is of her too! Given how much Rebekah has been brutalized by those trolls, it’s just horrible what those horrible people put her through!! I loved Rebekah and Divya’s shared passion and enthusiasm for gaming, it just made me so happy and again, I just couldn’t help but get caught up in their enthusiasm too! In turn, I couldn’t help but share Divya’s feelings throughout the book, her feeling of just letting the days struggles drift away as she explored the galaxy in Reclaim The Sun, sharing her smiles and feelings as she connected with Aaron more, and of course that fierce determination when she was adamant that those trolls would not shut her down!

Honestly, this book is just such an eye opener! It’s written so brilliantly and it’s just such an addictive book and really makes you think about the internet but it will definitely get you celebrating everything there is to love about embracing your inner geek and what’s more, standing up for yourself!! Wholly memorable and altogether amazing!! An absolute must read!!

Happy Reading,


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