A Free Dreamer Review: Don’t Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Gaming while female is enough to incur the wrath of the dude-bros, and they’ve come for me. Instead of fighting back, I’ve created an alternate account. Male name, male pronouns. And I’ve met this girl. I’ve always liked girls, and Laura’s adorable and smart and never gives up, and she likes me back. Or rather, she likes the man I’m pretending to be. But I can’t tell her I’m a woman without the mob coming after her too.
And besides: I might not be a woman, not really.
The truth is, I don’t know what I am anymore. I’ve spent my whole life being told how I’m supposed to act and what I’m supposed to be, but none of it feels right. And my lie is starting to feel truer than anything I’ve ever been.
There’s a convention coming up, but the closer it gets, the more I have to choose: lie or fight. But if I don’t stand my ground as a girl, am I letting the haters win?
Then again, those aren’t the only two ways to live.
Being a female gamer myself, I was immediately drawn to this book. Personally, I’ve never experienced discrimination in the gaming world because of my gender. But then I’ve never played MMORPGs like Daphne does (way too complicated for me – I’m a very casual gamer) and I tend to play male characters, given the choice.
If you haven’t guessed from the blurb and my opening: This book is full of gamers. MMORPGs play a major role throughout the story. Having never played games like that myself, some of the typical slang took some getting used to at first. I think it takes a gaming nerd to appreciate the work the author put into creating a realistic gaming world online as well as offline. That was absolutely brilliantly done and felt very realistic.
I loved how diversive this book was. There are so many gender identities, sexual orientations and ethnicities and it’s all portrayed as perfectly normal. Every supporting character had a distinctive and unique voice and I loved every one of them. The musketqueers, Daphnis’ roommates and best friends, will forever have a place in my heart. Their friendship and support was truly unconditional . It was easy to really feel their friendship. Those guys are the kind of friends anybody would love to have.
It was interesting to watch Daphnis’ struggle with their gender in comparison to their roommate Alain, who wasn’t cis either. But for Alain the whole gender identity was rather simple: “Ivy and she when I’m tucked, Alain and he when I’m not.” It seemed downright effortless compared to how much trouble Daphnis has with their gender identity. Certainly a very interesting contrast. While I know my way around the gaming community, I don’t know anything about what it feels like to question your gender identity. So while this seemed quite realistic as well, I can’t guarantee it actually is.
There are some minor things I wasn’t entirely happy about, however. First of all, I would have liked a little more depth overall. Be it Daphne starting to think about her gender identity or the love story, a little more detail would have been nice. As it was, the romance part of the story felt a little bit rushed. And I wasn’t entirely happy about the ending. The HEA just seemed a little too happy for me.
Overall, I absolutely loved “Don’t Feed the Trolls”. It’s a breath of fresh air. Just don’t expect an epic love story and focus more on the other parts.
“Don’t Feed the Trolls” made me think. About gaming, sexism, gender and all things related. Not many books manage that. It hit very close to home and I think I’ll view the gaming world differently from now on.
The cover by L.C. Chase is pretty cool. It definitely works for the story.
Sales Links
Book details:
ebook, 230 pages
Published April 1st 2017 by Riptide Publishing