This book is a ginormous improvement on the short story it was expanded from, which wasn't a terrible little story. In For the Win
, the gold farmers aren't just the occasional line of text from some shirt-making avatars and a few heart-wrenching pictures, they're the protagonists of the action, and they have their own lives and motivations, spread throughout South and East Asia, living lives that are practically SFnal compared with standard-issue first-world middle-class existence. The story begins with organizing instead of ending with it, and it takes it in directions that are obligingly twisty, exhilirating and gut-wrenching.
I only had two real complaints as I was reading. First, man, I love bookstores about as much as anyone, but I found it distracting that the story was salted with these random anecdotes about signing books in San Francisco or whatever. I dunno, I guess it just didn't work for me.
Second, no matter how otherwise far-flung and otherwise well-characterized these people are, whenever one of them goes on a rant of righteous rallying they have have the disconcertng tendancy to start sounding a lot like Cory. This was a not unfounded criticism of Little Brother
as well, but I argued in favor of giving it a pass because some people kind of are like that, you know? But that was just the one character, and he was a lot closer to Cory's demographic. A fair bit more Coryesque exposition appears in sections which are set off by themselves and they explain the global financial meltdown as entertainingly and lucidly as the justifiably well-regarded episode of This American Life entitled The Giant Pool of Money. I think this was a wise choice, because if all this material had been somehow smuggled into the narrative as well it would have been the wrench that made the story grind to a halt.
But on the whole, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the hell out of it.