Monday, January 9, 2012

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

I went into this book expecting a story about video games. I guess it is partly that, but it's more about living your own dreams vs. living someone else's dreams. And as is typical with Gene Luen Yang, the story is told expertly and the artist he's chosen, Thiem Pham provides amazing art to go along with the story. Dennis wants nothing more than a nintendo gaming system for Christmas when he's a child. He's fallen in love with the world of video games that he's discovered and the nintendo has just become available. What he gets instead is a chemistry set. He's super disappointed and to make matters worse, his dad tells him that video games are a waste of his time and that he needs to plan for his future. He has to make sacrifices. When Dennis is about to graduate high school, his father dies, leaving things unsettled. Since his father isn't there, Dennis hallucinates angels from a card that his father gave him as a child that plead with him to go to medical school to become a doctor, and so he does that, feeling guilty for not living up to his fathers dreams. But the question is, can Dennis ever be truly happy if he's not living his life for himself...if he's living it for someone else. This really is a great question, isn't it? How often do we make choices in life based on what we think others expect of often do we make choices because it feels like it's the proper thing to do, not the thing that we necessarily want to do. I think all of us do to an extent...whether it's something small in life or whether it's what we actually do with our lives. I know I do this on a daily basis. With little things and with big things. I think it's important to at least acknowledge that. The thing I love about Gene Luen Yang is that his books really do an excellent job of tackling the essence of human experience...whether that's about racism, ethnocentrism, money or living for ourselves. And he does it so damn well. In such a relatable way. Can't wait to see what Yang puts out next!

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