Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Review: For the Win

For The WinFor The Win by Cory Doctorow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really, really enjoyed this book. It starts out as a "slice of life" of three different people living their everyday lives...of course, those people are either gold farmers in MMOs or somehow involved with gold farmers. At the beginning of each chapter is a mini-review of a bookstore that the author has visited (or spent substantial time in), from tiny niche comic book stores all the way up to It's clear from these chapter intros that the author not only loves to write, but loves to read, and can't live without books. His enthusiasm is infectious; I want to visit every one of these stores. It's also clear that he loves to teach; he inserts explanations of economic concepts that are very clearly explained...he almost sneaks them in so that you don't know you're learning until it's "too late". Let me say here--if you'd ever told me that I'd be writing a positive review about a book that included lessons on economics, I'd have laughed in your face.

His characterizations are wonderful, and the book is very easy to read. Its tone gradually increases in seriousness until the end. There are only two reasons this book gets four stars rather than five: One, it was shockingly poorly edited. Granted, it was a free copy he posted to his website, but the errors were gross--a character's name wrong for part of a conversation, pronouns switching from "he" to "she", words left out of sentences, "and" instead of "an", etc. The second criticism is more serious. The book reads like a dramatized non-fiction account of the state of the world, but unfortunately this leaves the author unable to bring about the life-changing conclusion you come to hope for as you read. He's painted himself into a corner; the world doesn't work the way it would if there's really a "win", and so the ending is a bit neutered. A few loose ends left dangling, one character disposed of unnecessarily and easily avoidably--but the book is so wonderful to read, don't miss it because of those small flaws.

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