Level Up by Gene Luen Yang is the story of a teenager, Dennis Ouyang. He has always struggled in the shadow of his parents’ expectation. His father wants him to be a gastroenterologist, but that is not what Dennis wants to do. However, Dennis doesn’t want to fight with his father about the expectation, and therefore he still attends medical school to study to be a gastroenterologist.
In the book, it shows the path the Dennis choses after his father passed away. He goes to medical school and studies, but that is not what Dennis likes to do. Instead, he is only doing what his father wanted him to be. It makes him depressed and unhappy. He thought that his destiny was to be gastroenterologist, but that was his father’s dream, not his. As a result, he dropped out of medical school and began playing video games because he knew what he was supposed to do in the games, unlike in life. The games make him feel like he knows what he’s doing: the goals were clear and attainable.
This book reflects the teenagers now: they are lost in the “path of life,” but they are able to find a goal in games, whether it’s leveling up and/or getting stronger or better in the games. Things are easy in games, and we know what we need to do. That’s why and how people become addicted to games. However, life is full of uncertainty and wonder; we don’t want to face it, but it the reality that we have to deal with just like Dennis.
If I were to rate this graphic novel, I would rate it pretty high because I could relate to the main character. Everybody at some point is unsure about their future, and they want to do something that has a clear goal. Dennis chooses gaming, so that he does not feel lost. In the end, gaming helps Dennis find himself and his destiny.