It’s Not All Fun & Gaming

HELLO! I can’t believe I haven’t written anything since Pancake Day. I’ve read at least 50 books since then—I’m not even exaggerating, though a lot of those have been picture books—so it’s not like I have an excuse. I will say I was originally waiting to have read something that wasn’t for work (I’m looking at you, The Bone Clocksonly 200 pages to go!), but that’s a losing battle, I’m afraid. And, frankly, I’ve felt less compelled to write about books in my free time since it has become my job. Yet here I am.

And guess what? I did it! I read a book for myself! This was possible because I had the e-galley on my phone and could read on rush hour trains when it was too packed to have out a real book. I did end up getting the physical book, too, because a) it’s a real book, b) it has a shiny cover, c) the images were cut off on my tiny phone screen, and d) I wanted to support Felicia Day; but it sort of felt right to read some of this book electronically, seeing as the author has made a name for herself through her internet presence. I’m talking, of course, about Felicia Day’s memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)I was first introduced to Felicia Day through the amazing Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blogwhich spoke to my love of musicals and wannabe superheroes (or villains, in this case). My fondness for Day, however, exploded when I found her web series, The Guild. If you’re not familiar, The Guild is about a group of people playing an online game akin to World of Warcraft. Though my own video game experience doesn’t extend much beyond Spyro the Dragon and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (both excellent games), I still identified with the show’s characters, who are a weird, socially awkward, anxious bunch. Just like me! I felt like Felicia Day and I could be friends. So when I heard she had a book coming out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Even though I was ready to take the plunge into an ocean of quirkiness, part of me did wonder how someone only in her thirties would manage to fill an entire book. Let me assure you that she does it quite well. The introduction and early chapters come on a bit strong, with weirdness and neuroses at the fore, yet it doesn’t take long for these qualities to strike a balance with Day’s truly interesting upbringing and rise to become “Queen of the Geeks.” As a homeschooled violin and math prodigy who went to college at age 16, she has plenty of entertaining stories and unfortunate childhood photos to share. Her decision, then, to be an actress comes seemingly out of the blue, but it is in keeping with Day’s determination to follow her heart, which readers will see is precisely how she managed to carve out her own “weird niche…in life.” And that is inspiring.

She is cute and weird, yes, but this book really lets you see how intelligent and driven she is, as well—a bit like a neurotic Drew Barrymore for the online world. I identified most strongly with her struggle to find work after college, while she bemoaned that her “dazzling 4.0 GPA wasn’t the trump card in this new world” that she’d expected. Readers get to follow the inauspicious start to her acting career, her addiction to World of Warcraft—which served as fodder for The Guild, cutting edge entries into internet technologies, and the launch of her own web production company, Geek & Sundry. You’re mistaken if you interpret “quirky” as “fluffy,” because she packs in plenty of serious material, especially in the second half of the book. Most importantly, Day uses her book to encourage people to pursue their passions and have pride in what they create, and she does this in a way that is accessible and charming. If you like stories about the unflinchingly unique, this is one for you.

I thought it would be nice to make this post a pairing, so I bring to you my Booklist review The Unfortunate Decisions of Dalia Mossof The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Mossby Max Wirestone, which is coming out this October. This light, funny mystery also takes readers into the gaming world, and will especially appeal to the Stephanie Plum crowd. Enjoy!

Review originally published in the Sept. 1, 2015 issue of Booklist:

“For 26-year-old Dahlia Moss, the past year has been a blur of fruitless job interviews, breakup blues, and ramen dinners. So when Jonah Long approaches her at a party with a business proposition, she jumps at the opportunity, or at least the $2,000 attached to it. Her mission: recover a spear that was stolen from Jonah in Zoth, a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game). Professionally unqualified (“I’m not a detective. I’m an unemployed millennial with an overly expensive business degree.”), Dahlia does have gaming experience on her side; however, she has barely begun her investigation when Jonah is killed by a real-life replica of the digital spear she was hired to find. Undeterred, she plunges into the role of private detective with hapless enthusiasm, encountering bizarre characters, both in-game and out, who only complicate the mystery of the spear and Jonah’s death. Dahlia’s misadventures feel like Stephanie Plum meets The Guild web series, filled with comic circumstances and geek culture. A hilarious, delightful start to a new mystery series.”

I’ll try not to let another 6 months go by without posting, but no promises!