Monday, January 3, 2011

Book Review: Felicia Day's The Guild

Last time I ended the year with comics talk, so it only makes sense to begin this year with more comics talk. This time I'm going to review Felicia Day's graphic novel, The Guild. The book is based on her wildly popular Internet series of the same name, The Guild. If you haven't watched the videos or read the book, then just know that both of them are largely about the social interactions between people who know each other through a World of Warcraft-style game. I had purchased the first issue of the comic, but never saw the ensuing issues until I saw the graphic novel on the shelves earlier last week. Since I enjoyed how the comic started out, I purchased the graphic novel so that I can see how the rest of the story played out. Before I continue, I must note the following:


Spoilers ahead! If you haven't read the book and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW! You have been warned!


With that out of the way, now I can continue.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, because I think Day captured the feel and the environment of a WoW-style guild to perfection; namely, that of the differing personality types coming together and seeing real life through a WoW lens by living vicariously through their gaming avatars. Some disclosure: I have seen very few episodes of The Guild on YouTube, so what I know about it is based mostly on the graphic novel. I'm letting you know this, because what I'm reviewing is the book, and not the YouTube series.

Anyway, when it came to depicting the social interactions of her guild, Day was spot-on. Nailed it to perfection. I literally LOLed at some of the stuff she brought up. However, I was disappointed in the story of Cyd Sherman's (the protagonist in the story) life outside of the WoW-styled game. I hesitate to say the following term because I don't want to make this sound as bad is it's about to sound, but I think I should just go ahead and use the term that defines my opinion of the writing in regards to the protagonist's real life: It was so formulaic.

What I mean is that the story of the poor little bright, intelligent and witty young woman who keeps wondering why her life is so screwed up is so done to death. Cyd Sherman as she is depicted in the book is a modern-day Cathy from the comic strips. The only thing Cyd didn't do was go AAACCKKK!!! I actually flipped through those scenes the first time I read the book just because I already knew what Cyd was going to say and do, and I wanted to get back to her depictions of the guild and guild life. However, to be fair, I went back and read the parts I skipped the first time around, just in case I was wrong. Unfortunately, I was not. I predicted what Cyd was going to do before she did it, and for the most part I was on the mark.

Okay, enough bashing of the depiction of Cyd's life outside of the guild, because as I said, I don't want to make this book sound as bad as I seem to be making it sound so far. On the contrary, I enjoyed the book very much, and I highly recommend it for your reading enjoyment. I will also go so far as to say that Day's book should be used as reference to understand the phenomenon of cyber social interactions (which is unique to our day and age); especially when it comes to online role-playing games. If this book hasn't already been used as a source for some grad student's thesis on cyber social interactions, then that grad student should do it. That's how highly I think of this book.

I must also mention how much I liked the idea of drawing Cyd's real life and her virtual life in different art styles so as to reflect the differing lives she is living. Note also that her cyber self has big boobs! LOL But most importantly, her depictions of her guild mates is so much like how it is in real life that it is no wonder that the YouTube series was such a hit. In that regard, the book was a faithful translation to what Day was doing in the YouTube series. Oh, and I especially like the fact that she has not one, not two, but three female gamers! Just in case you're curious, when I played, I was most like Tinkerballa. Ha!

So on a scale of 1 to 10 in which one is a bomb and 10 is THE bomb, I put Felicia Day's book The Guild as a 9. Despite my criticisms above, I think it is that good.

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