Cover Image: Don't Read the Comments

Don't Read the Comments

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Member Reviews

this was a great commentary on the gaming community and how racist and sexist people can be. it's about standing up and fighting for your right to exist.
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I keep hoping that by reading books about gamers, I'll understand them better. But I'm too old and I'm not sure my opinion really should count, I'm handing this book onto kids who have a better understand of the dynamics involved.
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This one’s for my proud #nerds who love video games, whether playing them or watching others play. The main character Divya is a highly successful streamer known as D1V on the well-known game streaming platform Glitch. The money she makes from ads and sponsors help her single mother pay the bills for their small apartment. She catches a lot of flak from strangers on the internet for being a #girlgamer, which has led her to one important rule she sticks to- don’t read the comments. But as the threats from anonymous online group Vox Populi escalate and things turn dangerous IRL, Divya will have to decide how far she’s willing to go to keep her voice. 

Meanwhile, Aaron is still busy juggling writing for an indie video game designer with a summer job as a receptionist in his mom’s private practice while trying to convince her that video game design is a career worth pursuing. It might be easier to make his case if only the guy he’s been writing for would actually pay Aaron for his work as promised. When Aaron crosses paths with infamous-but-private D1V on accident while playing his favorite video game, he can’t believe his luck. Slowly he becomes entangled in her world, which he begins to realize is closer to his than he ever thought. While navigating his own struggles, Aaron works to help Divya navigate hers and begins to learn what it really means to be a good ally. 

Filled with a lush and well-rounded set of characters (even the most minor background characters have depth and personality), this is a fun, powerful, and timely read about the struggles girls and women face when they try to participate in activities or spaces traditionally thought of as “for guys only” that accurately portrays the impact of video games and streaming on the lives of those for whom it means so much. This was one of my two #bestbooksofMarch for day 3 of my #30booksofApril bookstagram challenge (@msburrowsclass93) over on Instagram. Highly recommend this book!!!
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Thanks Net Galley for the preview! 

I liked this book but could not relate fully to it.  I'm not a gamer or fan of streams.  I liked the characters and their struggles seemed interesting but far fetched.  I felt like the trials they had were hard for people to resonate with.  I think teens who love games or streams would fall head over heels for this book.  A good read for the right audience!
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Don't read the comments was a great story.  I admittedly know very little about the online gaming world, but the themes of this book far exceeded the premise.  At times, this was hard to read simply because of the stark reality of sexual assault and online bullying.  I was very impressed by how well the author portrayed the hypocrisy and vitriol of online bullying especially when it involves sexism.  Great YA read!
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This book gives a fascinating and sometimes terrifying look into the world of online gaming and the risks and rewards associated with it. Divya is a popular streamer, playing the hot new game Reclaim the Sun. However, as online trolling spills into real life and threatens to destroy both her and her mom, Divya wonders if she’ll have to give up her passion and her livelihood. On the other hand, Aaron’s passion is for writing the storyline behind games, instead of working towards the medical career his mom wants for him. When he meets Divya online, he may get a chance to prove that gaming really means something to him, and help his new friend out in the process.
	Don’t Read the Comments is such a relevant book these days, where people are often bullied or abused online. It had such an imaginative world, both inside the game Reclaim and the Sun and outside it. The characters are so strong and interesting. Divya becomes a streamer to help her single mom, who is working two jobs and taking classes, to pay the rent. Aaron truly cares about his friends and wants to make the world a better place. The book is really good at getting into the heads of teenagers. The romance was sweet and the interactions were really interesting. Overall, a really great book that teaches an important lesson about online popularity and gaming.
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This is a wonderfully geeky story that explores sexism, misogyny, racism, doxxing and toxicity online and specifically within the gaming industry with nuance and candour.
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Thank you so much to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for providing this eARC to me in exchange for an honest review!

Let me just start by saying that I loved this book! I rated it a 4.5/5. The value of online friendships is something I advocate wholeheartedly myself and this book does a great job in describing that.

It's a contemporary that fits in perfectly with everything I love in a novel, the exploration of real life topics that affect everyone in a nuanced and tasteful way. Things like sexism, misogyny, racism, online harrasment and even doxxing are discussed, these things take place specifically in the gaming community in this novel. I would like to point out that a side character deals with sexual assault (before the story begins) and is dealing with the aftermath of it. Definite trigger warning here.

 Divya or D1V as she is known online is a popular 'Glitch' streamer who mainly plays a game called Reclaim the Sun which is an extremely popular game. Her main motto is: Don't Read The Comments. 
While playing the game she meets a guy named Aaron online who writes video game scripts and loves to game and their blooming friendship is told throughout messages and gameplay description. Told from both their perspectives this was such a fun way to explore the story

Gatekeeping in gaming is a main plot to this story and it felt raw, real and on point especially toward the end of the story. Such a compelling read. 

As a gamer, I wanted to touch on how amazing and atmospheric the parts about the game were. You can tell the author Eric Smith is passionate about gaming.
I would recommend this book to fans of games, but even if you are not I think this is a great YA novel for everyone. I was totally hooked from beginning to end.
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Eric Smith knows just how to tug on my heartstrings. The entirety of this book, I was on a roller coaster of multiple emotions and feelings. I would be given a second or two to breathe, and then it was back up that climb.

Don't Read the Comments is a book that focuses on many important issues and topics, such as racism, sexism, harassment, and more. These are focused in both online and offline settings.


We are given two main characters, Divya and Aaron. Both understand what it's like to be discriminated against due to the color of their skin, and it's brought up in multiple parts of the book. I really liked this addition to the story because I feel like we can never have enough books talking about racism in everyday life. If we don't give people the opportunity to write about, speak about, or share about stories like these, no one will care and no one will listen. We need to keep pushing for these and emphasize their importance.

Another thing I really liked that the author included in this book was the harassment females face in online communities. DRTC specifically centers on Divya's involvement in the video game and streaming communities, but it also carries on into her offline life. There is a group of men that have targeted Divya named the Vox Populi, and they're determined to shut her down and ruin her entire life—specifically because she's a girl. As someone who's been a part of this community before, I can't even begin to emphasize how IMPORTANT this is. I used to moderate the live chat of multiple streamers, and my job as a moderator was to warn, block, ban and reinforce those who misbehaved/acted out. I can tell you now, the majority of those that I did have to ban because of inappropriate behavior or actions was men. It's really sad, if anything, that they're proving the point of this now severely needed and important discussion.

This book focused on heavy topics, but it also had its light moments. We experienced a budding friendship between Aaron and Divya, and even though this book is categorized under YA romance, it's not heavily focused on at all! In fact, Divya makes it known that she can survive just fine on her own without the help of a guy, and I really loved that.

For that, I rate this book 5 stars. Eric Smith knows how to write his books, and I'm so thankful we have him as an author in our community. He's one of the ones I really trust to help make a change, so definitely boost this book up!
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Oh my gosh, I loved this book. 
It was so easy to see the danger that comes with being a girl online who is a gamer. As someone who plays world of warcraft and other mmo's, who talks on discord and other platforms, I know the pain of creeps jumping ship because of my gender. 
I cant imagine being on twitch and streaming like one of our main characters just because of how cruel people are so it was cute to see such an innocent romance play out on the pages of this book.
This was a sweet romance that I would reccomend to anyone, especially introverts such as myself.
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This was a really sweet book!! I've seen some buzz about this in the book but didn't really look into what it was about (but isn't that all of the books I review though??). I haven't read contemporary fiction in a while (don't really know why, it's my favorite to read), and this was one so great for getting me back into the contemporary world!

Don't Read the Comments comes from the points of view of Divya, a female streaming gamer well known in her community, and Aaron, an aspiring game writer. Both of them have home lives that aren't the best, and they both love playing the game Reclaim the Sun. Both of them are amazing and I loooooooved reading about both of them!!

Divya is a streamer, and her income from streaming helps her single mother go to class and pay the rent. However, being a girl in the community lands her a lot of hate, and trolls begin escalating their threats, causing repercussions in Divya's real life.

Aaron's parents run a medical clinic from their house, which they want him to take over. However, he doesn't want to go into medicine: he wants to write stories for a video game. He's been writing for a friend of his, who is working on starting up a video game company, although his parents disapprove.

When the two "meet" in the game, they form a connection and begin talking, and when the trolls in Divya's life begin to escalate, Aaron steps in to help the best he can. The dynamic between the two of them was amazing and so fun to read.

I really enjoyed the video game aspect of this! It was written in such a way that it didn't seem pretentious (which was kinda the whole point, lol: anyone can be a gamer) and was easy to understand, even for me, and I get confused easily. The in-game world was super cool, and I enjoyed reading it, even though I know practically nothing about gaming!

The side characters were AMAZINGGGGG: Rebekah is my absolute faaaaaaaav (maybe even more than Divya? but maybe not I can't tell), and Ryan is AWESOME, and Mira is ADORABLE. Divya's and Aaron's parents were also super cool (/well written, if you want to think about it like that), and the detective (whose name I have now forgotten) was also super cool. The side characters (and even antagonists) were well written and well defined and I could tell them all apart, which is also difficult for me, haha!

I really liked the final scene: while it did kinda feel a little too perfect, it was exactly perfect enough.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It didn't make it all the way to my favorite books, but I really enjoyed it, and will definitely be recommending it to others!

My Rating-
8/10

Things Liked-
-Divya! She's sweet and thoughtful and also really smart and tough and strong and aaaa
-Rebekah is a badass and I love her
-Aaron is so sweet (he reminds me of Weston from 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons)
-All the other side characters, especially Mira and Detective what's-her-name
-The tackling of sensitive, but hugely important topics (women in a male dominated world, sexual assault, (TW: sexual assault), social media, online harrassment, etc)
-The gaming world was so well done!
-ON! LINE! FRIENDS!!!!! AND AN ONLINE COMMUNITY!!!!
-The romance was sweet and not overdone!!

Things Disliked-
-The story was pretty predictable: I kinda called the shots before they happened
-It...maybe finished a little bit too perfectly?? But I LOVED the ending!!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion; I was not required to write a positive review.
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Delightfully geeky YA novel that deals with several diverse and thought provoking real life issues. The characters are solid and the plot had me turning the pages to find out how everything was going to be resolved. Oh, and there are several popular culture 'Easter eggs' dropped within the story which quickly added a big smile to my face too.
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A fun YA romance that dips into larger issues of online harassment, gender and video gaming, and privilege.  Loved the characters and the plot was pretty propulsive, but at he same time the connections to deeper issues were a little too pat and wrapped up too easily. On the whole an enjoyable read.
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Eric Smith has crafted a smart and sensitively-written novel about family pressures, video game culture, and race- and gender-focused internet harassment, a story centered around serious issues and shot through with well-timed humor and a believable teen romance. Toward the end of the book, the plot feels slightly rushed and the novel's realism takes a hit with a couple of over-the-top moments, but on the whole this is a charming novel. I look forward to reading Mr. Smith's backlist and future books!
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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…- Goodreads

As someone who works in the gaming industry, I appreciate this point of view. Indie gamers, women streamers, POC all deal with some really hard realities that aren't displayed until someone who already crosses the line crosses the in real life line. The fact that the author choose to discuss these topics is an almost unspoken field (when it comes to YA books) was great. 

The book is extremely detailed (almost painstakingly so) and there is realistic form of growth within the characters. It was a good read. Slow but good none the less. Smith (the author) did a really good job addressing concerns that teenagers, specifically gaming teenagers go through.

Overall,  3 Pickles
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It took me a little bit to get into this book, but I think that's because I'm not really its target audience. Video games and I have never really been very compatible, and so everything that Divya talks about is basically a foreign language to me. But I'm trying to read outside my comfort zone, and that's a good thing. This book ended up being amazing and exactly the perfect read.

I think we've all heard of the way that women are treated on the internet, but women in gaming somehow seem to get even more anger aimed directly at them. And in Div's case, it's also aimed at her mom and at her best friend, Rebekah. It's so scary to read, because she does everything that we're told to do on the internet: she keeps her personal life very, very secret and doesn't mention anything about her location or activities, ever. And it didn't make any difference, because the trolls found her anyway.

The Vox Populi are the most obnoxious group of guys imaginable. Everything about them is annoying and awful. And somehow they think they're the heroes! I felt awful for Divya, and I understood her instinct to disappear, but (and I don't think this is a spoiler) when she chose to fight back, I seriously cheered out loud.

This is a fun book and while it wasn't written especially for me, I am so glad I found it. Recommended.
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Don’t Read The Comments is a books that is centered around the internet and the world of gaming. Following the point of views (in alternating chapters) of Divya and Aaron who are both gamers who dealing with struggles in their own lives. Divya is a big gamer with a large internet following who is struggling with trolls who are trying to tear her down and dismantle her platform. She works hard to build a revenue from her gaming challenge to support herself and her mom financially. Aaron dreams of creating games but doesn’t have the needs to do so. His parents want him to be a doctor and he wants to follow a different path.

Though Aaron and Divya are complete strangers they instantly click while playing Reclaim The Sun. They’re true gamers at heart and playing the game with one another is place they can escape from the problems of their daily life. The writing is immerse in not only in the characters point of views, but the game play as well. Through the characters eyes you feel as if you’re exploring the vast galaxies of Reclaim The Sun yourself. Though Divya and Aaron come from different backgrounds they find a lot of common ground. I appreciated that the two didn’t just jump into a relationship, but slowly built a system of trust where they become close friends. I felt their characters were relatable to a wide audience since they talk about financial issues, growing up, finding their paths in life, and familial obligations.

This novel is also a commentary on internet culture as a whole and how people hide behind keyboard comments. I’ve learned myself long ago to “not read the comments” for most things since people can be so horrible to one another. It also touches on toxicity and the bullying that happens with online gaming as Divya faces harsh criticism, trolls, sexism and racism. It also brings up the issue of gamer gate. I love that this book is so diverse in which its main characters are poc, characters come from different walks of like, are inter-sectional, etc.

Though I’m not the biggest gamer but I do enjoy playing video games from time to time. I could connect with the main characters and their feeling of excitement and escapism they felt while playing the game. I also liked the overall message/discussion of internet culture in this novel. My only wish is that Reclaim The Stars was a real game so I could play it. Recommended read!
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Found the characters to be a bit irksome but I'm not exactly the intended audience for this. I thought overall the story was well paced and developed.
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I especially enjoyed the rep in this one and the characters were likable and interesting. The author clearly had a love for this space game / gaming in general because there was a ton of scenes based in the space world. There were a lot of moving pieces in this plot too / messages that were trying to be conveyed from (online)bullying to family dynamics to feminism.. a lot was happening. 

I wasn’t completely gripped by this, but I would pass it along to students and I do think it feels relevant and would be interesting and enjoyable for them! 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

3.5
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I have to start this review by saying that even though I read this book for free through Netgalley, I loved it so much that I actually bought the physical book afterwards. It was that good.

Don’t Read the Comments has become the paragon of what I wish all stories about internet privacy to be. It tells the story of an ordinary girl who gains a following streaming her favorite game online, and what happens when anonymous and increasingly violent harassment disrupts her life. It also tells the story of how a favorite game brings two people together. What’s better? It allows for these two stories to happen simultaneously. The blossoming friendship and the escalating harassment are not mutually exclusive events.

When it comes to online friendships/relationships, there tends to be a dominant narrative in some form of “trust no one” for x, y, and z reasons. And while that narrative is definitely true—and presents itself in the story in the form of Divya and her best friend Rebekkah’s very real life harassment and assault—the book also brings counter-narratives to account for. Some being the fact that 1. there will always good people amongst the bad ones online (cue entrance: Aaron), and that 2. real life benefits can come from having an online presence (see: Divya helping her mom pay the rent for their apartment via the revenue from sponsorships on her stream). And there, we have the recipe for how harassment and friendship from the same source coexist in Divya’s life.

The near-equal weight given to both the pending friendship with Aaron and the increasingly-scary harassment from trolls created a confliction that Divya struggles with throughout the book. Does she let the trolls win, lose her friendship with Aaron, but stop the harassment? Or does she risk her safety and fight back?

“The unfairness of it all weighs on me. It’s hard to encourage a blossoming friendship with an internet stranger when there are anonymous misogynistic trolls lurking around my house.”

“Log on. Fight back.”

Other things I must praise Don’t Read the Comments for is A) the world-building of both real life and the game world Reclaim the Sun, and B) the genuineness in character interactions.

A) the details given about the world that Divya lives in both realistically and virtually made following her story in both dimensions an incredibly immersive experience. For instance, here is a quote of Divya day-dreaming about Aaron visiting her:

“I wish this walk was alongside some actual water. Maybe here, in Jersey City, wandering downtown. We could rummage for records, like he said, or drink coffee in Word, my favorite bookstore. I could catch him during golden hour, framed perfectly for a photo in the setting of the sun, in a dog park surrounded by Corgis and Yorkies and Boston terriers, the signature small pups of the town.”

This quote does so much in such a little way. It A) definitely gives the location (Jersey City, NJ), but it also B) brings the location to life by including descriptions of a downtown waterfront, a favorite bookstore, and even the types of dogs you see in NJ. I know nothing about NJ, but now I want to go there.

Similarly, this amount of detail is given for the world of Reclaim the Sun:

“Reclaim the Sun spontaneously generates planets and galaxies, but it also creates the environments on the planets. The ecosystem, the wildlife, the weather.”

And:

“I hear the other ships buzzing in my ears, their gear and landing procedures all the same as mine. The ships in Reclaim the Sun are varied in terms of colors, shapes, and upgrades, but everyone has the same kind of weapons, same navigational gear, all of that.”

I have remorse that this game doesn’t actually exist after reading this book because I was so immersed in its functionality. I could see myself playing this game.

Sidenote: while ensuring that I wasn’t being dumb and a game called Reclaim the Sun didn’t actually exist, I found that Don’t Read the Comments was originally going to be titled Reclaim the Sun. Cool stuff!

Lastly, I absolutely have to pay homage to the beautifully realistic dialogue between characters. By the end of this book, I could tell that Eric Smith knows the art of using colloquial language to bring characters to life. Case and point:

“D1V: I’m um…I’m sending you something.

AARON: What?

AARON: like, in the mail?

D1V: No by drone YES IN THE MAIL. I hope you like it, and that it um.

D1V: Uh. Brings us closer. Or something. OKAY I FEEL AWKWARD NOW BYYYYYE.”

This informal chatting between Divya and Aaron throughout the book not only kept the online friendship element alive, but it also diffused moments of tension and brought their characters closer.

There are many other things I could talk at length about in Don’t Read the Comments. It’s a book that has 100% made it to my favorites shelf, and I will undoubtedly be re-reading this book multiple times in my life. Please, do yourself a favor and read this book.

And if you need just one more thing to convince you, I will leave you with this: Divya’s best friend Rebekkah is a bookworm that has a bookstagram and names her ships in Reclaim the Sun after her favorite book titles.

Now read the book. And while you’re at it, Don’t Read the Comments.
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