Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang

Dennis Ouyang is caught between two worlds. On the one hand he loves to play video games and is really good at them. On the other hand, he is haunted by the words of his father to make more of his life and attend medical school.

When his father dies while Dennis is in high school Dennis cruises through his first couple of years of college until he is expelled for poor grades. And this is when the magic happens. Four supernatural creatures get him reinstated and help him through his undergraduate studies until he gets into medical school. The question is whether or not a second chance at his father’s dream will be enough for Dennis.

The illustrations by Thien Pham work in tandem with Yang’s prose to convey the emotional turmoil of Dennis as he navigates young adulthood. Flashbacks are colored in blues and grays while the present is given a wide range of hues. This is a great book for the reluctant reader who can’t pull away from the video game console.

Give Level Up a try. Yang’s American Born Chinese is a good graphic novel follow-up read if you enjoy the cultural themes explored in Level Up.

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