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Level Upby Gene Luen Yang
Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times Notable Children's Book (Young Adult) for 2011
Video Games vs. Medical School!
Which will win the battle for our heros attention in Gene Luen Yangs new graphic novel?
Dennis Ouyang lives in the shadow of his parents high expectations. They want him to go to med school and become a doctor. Dennis just wants to play video games—and he might actually be good enough to do it professionally.
But four adorable, bossy, and occasionally terrifying angels arrive just in time to lead Dennis back onto the straight and narrow: the path to gastroenterology. Its all part of the plan, they tell him. But is it? This powerful piece of magical realism brings into sharp relief the conflict many teens face between pursuing their dreams and living their parents.
Partnered with the deceptively simple, cute art of newcomer Thien Pham, Gene Yang has returned to the subject he revolutionized with American Born Chinese. Whimsical and serious by turns, Level Up is a new look at the tale that Yang has made his own: coming of age as an Asian American.
"Yang, writer-artist of National Book Award finalist American Born Chinese, writes this magical-realist tale of Asian-American parental pressure and video-game escape, leaving the art to up-and-comer Pham. Dennis Ouyang struggles with the burden of his dead father's orders that he study hard, go to med school, and become a gastroenterologist. When Dennis, inspired by four mysterious angels, gives up his passion — video games — and buckles down to his studies, he befriends three fellow second-generation students and begins to make a place in med school. But a crisis in confidence reveals the true nature of his guardian angels, and the real source of his father's dreams for his only son. Pham's watercolors can be charming, but his primarily gray and brown palette gets visually monotonous; thankfully, his work increases in energy as the plot does. Yang's familiar story of immigrant striving and filial rebellion gets just enough juice from its connection to arcade culture. A bravura storytelling and visual twist near the end brings together the plot's several strands. A minor work from Yang, but a welcome introduction to Pham, whose own upcoming First Second graphic novel, Sumo, looks promising. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Dennis, the son of Chinese immigrants, yearns to play video games like his friends and, upon his strict father's death, becomes obsessed with them but later, realizing how his father sacrificed for him, he chooses a nobler path.
About the Author
GENE YANG’s first book with First Second, American Born Chinese, is now in print in over ten languages. American Born Chinese was an instant critical and commercial success, a National Book Award finalist, and the winner of the Printz Award.
THIEN PHAM is a comic book and visual artist, based in the Bay Area. He is also a high school teacher. Pham’s first solo graphic novel, Sumo, is also forthcoming from First Second.
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