Thursday, April 27, 2017

Don't Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch

Gaming while female is enough to incur the wrath of the dude-bros, and they’ve come for me. Instead of fighting back, I’ve created an alternate account. Male name, male pronouns. And I’ve met this girl. I’ve always liked girls, and Laura’s adorable and smart and never gives up, and she likes me back. Or rather, she likes the man I’m pretending to be. But I can’t tell her I’m a woman without the mob coming after her too.

And besides: I might not be a woman, not really.

The truth is, I don’t know what I am anymore. I’ve spent my whole life being told how I’m supposed to act and what I’m supposed to be, but none of it feels right. And my lie is starting to feel truer than anything I’ve ever been.

There’s a convention coming up, but the closer it gets, the more I have to choose: lie or fight. But if I don’t stand my ground as a girl, am I letting the haters win?

Then again, those aren’t the only two ways to live.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This story dragged me into the alternate universe of MMO gaming. Even though my own gaming experiences are limited to Tetris and Freecell, I found Daphnis’ world fascinating and I really enjoyed their journey in this story.

Much of this book is an exploration of gender and sexuality – especially within the very visible world of acting and the more private world of online gaming. The characters in this story are wonderfully diverse but at times, some of the characters feel more like vehicles for the author’s message than actual people. This is a message heavy book and there are moments and characters that need a few more shades of grey and a little less idealism.

I am definitely much older than the target reader for this story. Daphnis and their slacker friends (who either live off of rich parents or somehow manage to exist in NYC as barely jobbing actors) are living the Millennial hipster dream. Gen X readers like myself probably need to refer back to their Douglas Coupland and Kevin Smith years if they are going to have any empathy for characters whose biggest concern is hate mail from players in an online game.

I struggled some with the structure and format of this book. The author assumes a basic knowledge of MMORPGs and often uses vocabulary that may be familiar to gamers but left me a little bewildered. Many of Daphnis’ conversations are written – often taking place within a game as electronic conversations. I found the constant shift to script-like conversations distracting and difficult to navigate. But again – I’m pretty sure I’m not the target audience!

Beyond my generation gap issues is a wonderful story of a journey towards honest self-identity. I loved the fluid nature of gender and sexuality in this book and I’m really happy to see more diverse characters in print. I really enjoyed this delightfully unconventional book.

Erica Kudisch lives, writes, sings, and often trips over things in New York City. When not in pursuit of about five different creative vocations, none of which pay her nearly enough, you can usually find her pontificating about dead gay video games, glueing rhinestones to her face, and making her beleaguered characters wait forty thousand words before they get in the sack.

In addition to publishing novellas and short stories as fantastika-focused alter-ego Kaye Chazan, Erica composes under her given name and is responsible for the BDSM musical Dogboy & Justine, and serves as creative director and cofounder of Treble Entendre Productions.

She also has issues with authority. And curses too fucking much.

Connect with Erica

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Don't Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch to read and review.

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