"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review: Level Up by Gene Luen Yang


Level Up is the latest graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang with art by Thien Pham. The central question of this book is one we have all grappled with sometime in our life: What do you want to be when you grow up? Dennis Ouyang, is A Chinese American kid, is obsessed with video games which places him at odds with his father who wants him to be a doctor. After his father dies and Dennis nearly flunks out of college, he is "visited" by creatures that look like angels. They show him his destiny and assist him on the road to medical school.  But is Dennis happy?  Is he making the right decision for his own future?  With each revelation, the reader advances to the next level, as if we too are playing a video game.  Cory Doctorow at Boingboing wraps up the book nicely:
Yang's got a gift for characters who understand their duty but don't fully believe it; Level Up is a great example of that dilemma. It's 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.
I am never quite sure what I think of graphic novels since I read so few of them.  I did find this one very clever and easy to read.  I have felt the uncertainty of struggling to make the "right" decisions for my own life, though my parents were polar opposite to Dennis's parents.  They basically gave me no input as to what they thought I should do with my life.  Pham's artwork was simple and enjoyable.  "Using a variety of subdued palettes to convey a story set in the present, the past and in a magic realist netherworld, Pham creates a nexus of believable humans"  - NY Times Young Adult Book Review for Level Up Take a look at a few more of the images by clicking on the link.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang, Art by Thien Pham
Even though the story isn't completely original in its theme, it has a timeliness to it with all the attention given to Tiger Moms today.

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