Title: Walking in Two Worlds
Author: Wab Kinew
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 14, 2021
An Indigenous teen girl is caught between two worlds, both real and virtual, in the YA fantasy debut from bestselling Indigenous author Wab Kinew. Perfect for fans of Ready Player One and the Otherworld series.
Bugz is caught between two worlds. In the real world, she’s a shy and self-conscious Indigenous teen who faces the stresses of teenage angst and life on the Rez. But in the virtual world, her alter ego is not just confident but dominant in a massively multiplayer video game universe.
Feng is a teen boy who has been sent from China to live with his aunt, a doctor on the Rez, after his online activity suggests he may be developing extremist sympathies. Meeting each other in real life, as well as in the virtual world, Bugz and Feng immediately relate to each other as outsiders and as avid gamers. And as their connection is strengthened through their virtual adventures, they find that they have much in common in the real world, too: both must decide what to do in the face of temptations and pitfalls, and both must grapple with the impacts of family challenges and community trauma.
But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world, as well as her relationships in the real world, and it will take all her newfound strength to restore her friendship with Feng and reconcile the parallel aspects of her life: the traditional and the mainstream, the east and the west, the real and the virtual.
Bugz is an Indigenous teen who is caught between two worlds. She’s one of the top players in a virtual world, where she can be the confident girl who commands attention. In the real world, she has to deal with racism and sexism in her community. Feng is a Chinese teenage boy who was sent to live with his aunt in Bugz’s community. He is also part of the virtual world, but he is part of the group against Bugz’s character. Bugz and Feng get to know each other in both the real and virtual world, until a betrayal threatens their new friendship.
This story was set in the future, years after 2021. Bugz’s parents mentioned the pandemic and how it changed their lives as teenagers. A lot of the world became more digital after that, including the virtual world that Bugz played on.
There were some tough subjects in this novel. Bugz and Feng had to deal with racism, in person and online. Bugz faced sexism within her own family and community. There were also instances of self harm and cancer. These were intense scenes but were also integral to telling a realistic story.
Walking in Two Worlds is a great young adult Indigenous story.
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Have you read Walking in Two Worlds? What did you think of it?