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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

For the Win

For the Win - Cory Doctorow This was a little harder to jump into than Little Brother. There’s a lot more plot and characters to juggle around, not to mention, there’s the huge economic focus.I do like the global expanse in For the Win. It really illustrates the larger scope of the situation, and feels like the events have an effect on everyone not just one or two main characters. The Shenzhen and Mumbai scenes are rich in description, bringing alive the respective cultures and adding a whole new layer to the book.Of the three main storylines, I liked Mala’s the best. I got more of a conflict with her storyline—the decision whether or not to keep working for Mr. Banjerhee, and knowing what it means for her army if she decided to go over to the Webblies. Yasmin’s probably my favorite character in the whole book, she doesn’t appear as strong or commanding as Mala, but she stands up for herself and is worthy of being a leader in her own right. Also,, her older brother relationship with Ashok was cute—I liked whenever the two of them would interact. It also gives you a sense of how young most of these workers are, and really illustrate the age gap between them and their parents’ generation. Matthew’s story was okay, if a bit more engaging as he was on the factory frontlines in China, but I really couldn’t get a good grasp on his character. I wanted to have him on screen more, and while I know he’s the one who encourages the guild to break away from Boss Wing, I thought Lu would have been a better character to start with. Lu’s plotline with Jie seems deliberately set up to be more engaging and thrilling, as they run from safe house to safe house, keeping her on air. On that note, Jie reminded me a little of Ange from Little Brother—fangirling the revolutionary figure, egging on people to do bigger things. She’s bit more well-rounded, but there’s some similarities. And out of the main three characters, I just didn’t like Wei-dong at all. He starts off as a bratty teenager who’s apparently too good to listen to his parents’ concerns, and while by the end of the book, he’s gotten into something more important than video games, I really didn’t feel any growth from him. The fact that he goes to China and leaves his grieving mother behind also really aggravated me—it’s stated in-text that Wei-dong/Leonard loves his mother, but after his father dies, he just up and smuggles himself to China. I get the larger events in the world, but I would have liked to have seen more discussion on his family’s grief.The one strength of this over Little Brother is that we’re not seeing the events solely through the ringleader’s eyes. The one section told from Big Sister Nor’s point-of-view serves to give a short history of unions (specifically, Eugune Debs and his Wobblies, setting the stage for the Webblies) and a loose idea of how BSN’s command center works. She feels more like a mystery figure, and I think I like not having her story told in full better. This is another book of Doctorow’s that takes place Twenty Minutes into the Future, to the point where online gaming has become a viable economy. There’s a lot of plot points that occur in For the Win that have happened in real life, and the plot eerily reflects recent market crashes. However, in order to get this information across, a lot of the plot gets put on hold for Doctorow to describe exactly how in-game economies work, how they relate to real-world economics, etc. These parts switch off between characters info-dumping or Doctorow going off for five or six pages. Sometimes, it’s interesting to read—like Connor Prikkel’s story of doing a lab study involving poker chips; other times, I felt like I was back in my high school economics class. One of the things that I particularly enjoyed seeing was the online battles. While the real world strike scenes were exciting and thrilling, the descriptions cutting back and forth between the various gamers and what was going online kept me on my toes. (Also, I lived with a Warcraft player, I know how these things are like.) The online battles were just as thrilling as the real-life ones, and more than once I wanted to have some of these games actually exist.It’s a lot meatier than Little Brother, probably closer to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom in tone. The informative parts are interesting, even if they do drag a bit at times, but the action scenes make up for it. Engaging read that manages to teach you something at the same time.