ReviewsThis story is fiction and describes a world known as "virtual." Yet, the economics discussed in its pages are as real as your laid off friend or the foreclosures up and down the street. In a time when national economies rise and fall on algorithms designed to sell money that never existed and corporate executives go unpunished for stealing thousands of people's pensions and livelihoods, the idea that the virtual world may well provide us with clues on how to organize the real one is not far-fetched at all. Perhaps we should listen up.
Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch
You can feel story pounding through the arteries of For the Win.
John Clute, Strange Horizons
For The Win is a dazzling piece of fiction: it makes you feel, it makes you think, and you come away from it wiser, looking at the world in a different way.
Robert Wiersama, Quill and Quire
Once again, Doctorow is on the cutting edge with this exciting blend of economic theory, technological advances, game theory, and social activism. This isn’t just another YA adventure, it’s a manifesto for a new generation of Internet-savvy thinkers and doers.
Realms of Fantasy
The big, fat fantasy/sci-fi novel of the season avoids the supernatural, except as expressed in game worlds online. Canadian Cory Doctorow’s For the Win may even be labelled "probable" rather than "speculative" fiction.
Deirdre Baker, The Toronto Star
This is an ambitious tale featuring a dozen tech-savvy narrators from around the world who all make their livelihoods playing and scamming video games. The cumulative effect of so many interwoven stories is that new ones feel like a layer of the previous. While each of the narrators could have easily been the star of his or her own book, they are instead strands of Doctorow's global web, proving that everything's interconnected.
Emily Pohl-Weary, The Globe and Mail
A cracking read.
These characters are neither post-modern nor post-anything much else; they are not bored, disengaged, ignorant, amoral. They are young people caught up in a global struggle for justice in a manner impossible even two decades ago, thanks to the new transnational space they inhabit.
It's an arena whose unintended effect is to offer its players a crash course in the game-like nature of the political and economic battles waged around them – as well as providing a context within which friendships can grow irrespective of race, nationality, wealth, age, gender or creed. Doctorow's American teenager teaches himself Mandarin in his spare time, the better to play alongside his guild buddies, even while his parents bemoan the uselessness of his gaming habit.
Tom Chatfield, The Independent
Expect Doctorow's usual skill with plotting, prose and pace to ensure that you'll finish this book with the same fever any much-desired title will instill. There are a lot of great Big Ideas rattling around in here, told in a manner that even adults can grok. 'For the Win' is already a winner.
Rick Kleffel, Trashotron
Regardless of your own political views, what Doctorow writes is important, and his stories are fast-paced and informative... For The Win is worthy.
"For the Win" is not a perfect book — merely a glorious one. Its end is open, almost ambiguous. It asks more questions than it answers. It stirs up trouble in its readers' hearts and worries in our minds, presenting problems without providing forever-and-all-time solutions. But it dares much, and daring is the best way humans have of making progress.
Nisi Shawl, The Seattle Times
It's the near future and online labour is globalised: millions work in virtual sweatshops with no rights and no union representation. Gamers Matthew from China, and Mumbai slum-dwellers Mala and Yasmin, among others, labour online to amass millions for exploitative global corporations, until they realise that by overcoming their differences and working together they can defeat their oppressors. Doctorow isn't afraid of taking on big ideas and difficult themes. Here he mixes online gaming, trades union politics and economics in a realistic near-contemporary setting. In lesser hands, this might make for a dull read, but Doctorow is a fine stylist. In For the Win he has produced an exhilarating, unputdownable novel that's likely to be nominated for the genre's top awards.
Doctorow keeps up a driving pace, full of action and violence both inside the games and in the real world as the union efforts heat up. With the popularity of online gaming today, it’s certainly easy to believe that the stakes are high for the players and companies, as well as the workers. Access to information, net neutrality, and fair use of the work of others are all issues that come into play in For the Win, set in the game context and mixed up with a global labor movement. It just might be that the author is describing a not-so-distant future.
Lara Killian, PopMatters
Cory Doctorow has a way of tackling complicated subjects, such as economics and workers’ rights, in a really honestly, cool format. Video games are something that most teenagers are at least passably familiar with and so they make more sense than abstract explanations. And it’s fantastically well-written—there’s that, too.
The cover was clean, vivid, dynamic, and interesting. It’s not one of the most intriguing covers I’ve ever seen, but it definitely suits the story and doesn’t distract from it. Doctorow, from time to time, inserts brief lessons in game play and economics into his narrative—little asides that explain things a bit more. These manage to be educational without being patronizing, which is a tenuous balance in YA fiction. That, to me, was the most impressive part of the book.
Even if he writes only YA books his entire career, I’ll read whatever Cory Doctorow publishes. After Little Brother , I was very impressed. For the Win just cements my respect for him, both as a writer and as a man with a message.
Lisa M, School Library Journal
Doctorow is indispensable. It’s hard to imagine any other author taking on youth and technology with such passion, intelligence, and understanding.
Once again Doctorow has taken denigrated youth behavior (this time, gaming) and recast it into something heroic. He can’t resist occasional lecture—sometimes breaking away from the plot to do so—but thankfully his lessons are riveting. With its eye-opening humanity and revolutionary zeal, this ambitious epic is well worth the considerable challenge.
Daniel Kraus, Booklist
Forget Doctorow's outspoken politics, this guy can tell a story. The pacing keeps things moving, and for a book about unions (and virtual unions at that!), it zips by page after page. What really makes the book work is that so much of the action is externalized in the real world. They don't just battle with keyboards, but with their fists. The stakes are high, and there is so much more to win and lose — it's not just video game lives they are fighting for, but their very own existence! And since they are fighting against such brutal conditions, organizing and striking can cost them not just their livelihoods, but their lives. There are the occasional sidetracks Doctorow takes to explain things like gold farming, virtual economics and even inflation and deflation. While interesting, these were not my favorite parts of the book. I kept wanting to get back to the story and the characters.
“For the Win” is not a perfect book — merely a glorious one. Its end is open, almost ambiguous. It asks more questions than it answers. It stirs up trouble in its readers’ hearts and worries in our minds, presenting problems without providing forever-and-all-time solutions. But it dares much, and daring is the best way humans have of making progress.
Nisi Shawl, The Seattle Times