14 March 2012

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Thien Pham

Dennis has been bred to be a doctor (specifically a gastroenterologist). Throughout his elementary and teen years, his dad pushes him to work harder and be better, to put down his video games and to pick up a textbook and study as much as possible. But when Dennis' father dies of liver cancer just before high school graduation, Dennis buries himself in the same video games his parents were so against having in the house. Dennis is awesome at gaming, but the guilt from turning his back on his "destiny" as a doctor eats at him and eats at him - until he catches a couple of lucky breaks and studies and works his way into medical school. This is a story of a young man who can't quite seem to figure out what he wants out of life, or how to get it. It's the story with a lot of ups and downs, about a young man who manages to figure out the important stuff in the end . . . at least so far.

Gene Luen Yang has some wonderful graphic novels published for teens and adults, including the Printz Award-winning American Born Chinese. Level Up is recommended for all readers, especially those just breaking into comics territory!

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

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