High Score for “Level Up”

I picked this skinny comic book out of a privately-owned bookstore near the coast. I was searching for something fun to read during one stay in bookstore-less Jamestown, but wound up not getting to it until recently.

The art was minimalist, with a charmingly simple style of its own. The text was easy-to-read, with most of it large enough so I did not have to squint. I enjoyed the full-color pages, and feel that it was worth the price of almost seventeen dollars—a little more than I usually shell our for a book, especially on a whim.

The plot itself is fun, though begins darkly. The story opens with Dennis, the protagonist, being let down and pushed to succeed by his father on different occasions. Then, his father dies suddenly within the first few pages. Uncertain of his future, Dennis becomes fully immersed in the digital world of videogames. He barely skates through college and is forced to drop out, when he finds himself bequeathed a quadruplet of “angels”. The angels do all of his chores: they cook, they clean and do laundry, and they even make him flashcards and study guides. The scenario sounds too good to be true for any college student—So where does it go? I suggest picking up this book to find out more.

While reading the book, I experienced feelings of both melancholy and familiarity. Having grown up as the product of two very successful doctors, the story really got me. In my family, there was always a big push towards science, specifically medicine. It was never my thing, but I felt a duty to study the field, nonetheless. The pressure and unhappiness that Dennis feels ring true. Everyone must find their path on their own.

While the plot is balanced, some topics are a little rushed. If I had to choose one subject that could have used more story time, it would be Dennis’s relationship with Ipsha. I personally wanted to know more. She never confesses her feelings and we are left hanging at the end. I felt badly for her during the story and believe she should have been given more time, especially as she was his first college friend. It almost felt as though the author was neglecting her by not letting us know how she is doing at the end of the book.

Overall, this book was an inspiring look at the life of a burned-out college student. His rise to full potential is earned, not freely given, and his reconciliation with his father is touching. Often, parents truly do the best they can in both life and death.

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