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.
Don’t Read the Comments is about serious subjects—cyberbullying and sexual harassment—but the tone and voice of the novel are light and personal. I loved both the main characters, and I think the author did an excellent job with both male and female viewpoints. Divya’s growth from someone who doesn’t read the comments the trolls post to a warrior who stands up and takes action is organic and believable. She doesn’t just change overnight. And Aaron finally realizes his own strength and dares to stand up for himself. I loved the voice in this, and I’m not a gamer at all and still found it thoroughly enjoyable.
Eric Smith is an author and literary agent. Don’t Read the Comments is his newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)