Thursday, 10 September 2015

Book review: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day


My edition: Hardcover, published on 13 Augustus 2015 by Sphere, 288 pages.

Description: The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world…or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was "homeschooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Rating:



I first found out about Felicia Day when I stumbled upon her web series The Guild back in 2007 or 2008 and I've seen her in a wealth of geekverse series since, including Supernatural, Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Dollhouse. While of course you can never know a person just from watching them on television and reading interviews, it is clear that it is no coincidence that her resume boosts so many genre shows: Felicia is a big geek herself. Nowadays it is is much more acceptable to be obsessive about TV shows or video games, to name a few examples, but that has really only become more common with the rise of the Internet and the ease with which people have been able to connect with fellow fans to fuel that passion, instead of quietly hiding this more obsessive side of themselves. I was part of the first generation that got fully immersed in this new technology, and so was Felicia. And she has experienced the many ups and down that come with communicating digitally with people who are really just perfect strangers.

Felicia's memoir is an honest insight into all the wacky and wonderful that has made her the person she is today. From her unconventional upbringing that allowed her to be as weird as she wanted to be, as she was homeschooled and didn't face the same social pressure kids and teenagers generally do to fit in, to her struggles as an aspiring actress in Hollywood with a seemingly useless double degree in math and music. And from developing a serious World of Warcraft addiction, right down to using the knowledge she gained spending all those hours lost in a fantasy world to create something that startkicked her career in the geekverse.  She wrote The Guild, which focuses on a group of people playing a similar game to WoW and was too niche at the time to be picked up by an established television network, but it was perfect for the Internet; the web series was born.

It is not an easy road though and Felicia doesn't gloss over the more difficult parts of her life, which makes this not only an incredibly relatable read for the Internet generation, but also genuinely inspiring and insightful for both existing fans of and those who picked up the memoir because they're interested in one of the TV-shows Felicia  has been a part of or the change the Internet has brought to the world; it has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other. Forming relationships with someone on the other side of a screen can be both a blessing and a curse at times. Yes, it has become easier to find like-minded people anywhere in the world that we feel that connection with, but it has also become so much easier for the human race to let their worst side flourish, hiding behind the safety of fake personas and made-up screen names - and Felicia has faced some of the worst examples of this herself.

At times it felt I could have written this memoir (though it wouldn't have been quite as witty or entertaining if I had), as so many of Felicia's stories resonated with me. I may not have grown up becoming as invested in video games as her but I had similar experiences with the rise of the online. I vividly remember the feeling of wonder at having the world at my fingertips through AltaVista, creating my first email address when no-one even knew what it was, my obsession with those early digital chat rooms, that awkward moment of meeting online friends for the first time, and losing hours - sometimes days - when completely engrossed in something on the Internet. I'm sure we're all familiar with the YouTube, Tumblr and Netflix holes that can consume us so completely nowadays, but back in the day it was the rare excitement of connecting with someone who was as much into a barely known fandom as you were and using existing characters in role-playing games or fan fiction (long before this became a more common creative outlet that could even lead to a book deal) that made those hours disappear.

You're ever Weird on the Internet (Almost) is an insightful and honest memoir about one woman's journey of growing up and finding her place in the world, both online and offline. Felicia's witty and self-aware humour shines through on every page, even the ones detailing low points in her life. She does so unashamed of being different, instead highlighting that she is proud of the quirks that make her unique and, well, her. We could all do with some reassurance every now and again that it is okay to completely be yourself, whatever shape or form this may take (as long as you don't hurt someone by doing so), and this book provides just that, while at the same time being an incredibly funny and fascinating read that was just addictive as the Internet itself can be – I for one was so engrossed that I chose finishing the novel over watching the new episode of my latest television addiction. If that isn't a testament to how good a read this is, then I don't know what is.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her on:

Website: http://feliciaday.com

Twitter: @feliciaday


Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review!

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