Don't Read the Comments: 02/08/20
Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith is a YA novel about the toxicity of gaming. It's told in alternating points of view from Divya Sharma aka D1V and Aaron Jericho, a casual gamer who is smitten with Divya and horrified by what she's going through.
D1V livestreams her gaming sessions on an MMO, Reclaim the Sun. She has sponsorships, enough to help put her mother through college and help pay rent. But then she's targeted by an online faction with local ties. At first it starts with a photo of her apartment and it escalates from there.
Aaron, meanwhile, plays the same game for fun. He plays on equipment he's cobbled together. He plays with his kid sister. He lets her name planets things like Butts. They meet by accident in the game and become friends.
This set up could have been used to make Aaron the hero. He could have been another clichéd male savior, swooping in to save the beleaguered female protagonist. Smith, though, is well aware of how awful that trope is and so is Aaron and his friends. While Aaron does his part to help, he's not the person who defeats the Vox Populi. Nope. Divya with help from a local police detective, saves herself.
Aaron, though, also has his own gaming related problems. He wants to write games. His best friend wants to do the art for them. They're being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous developer. As Divya saves herself, they save themselves.
Don't Read the Comments is an exasperating, anger inducing, and absolutely endearing read.