Flawed by Kitty Cox and Auryn Hadley is a gut-wrenching masterpiece. It’s billed as a romance. And the development of the relationship between Dez and Chance is very-much-so a romance. But this book is so much more. Having worked in the gaming industry and played games online, this book is a spotlight and a shout-out. There is so much going on in the gaming industry in relation to female developers, that this series feels very much relevant. Women are leaving game development because of things talked about in this book.
What happens to Dez as a teenager is something that terrifies me. I, myself, was a bit player in the industry (just a tester), but the death threats against female devs are real, the rape threats against devs and players are real. I’ve had them leveled against me while playing games considered to be male-centric. Cox and Hadley took these very real, very sensitive issues and wrote a story that lets us grieve for the pain caused as well as celebrate the victories of those women involved. The way they portrayed the support and following lack by the community at large, as well as media, for Dez and the group was spot-on.
Not only does this novel spotlight the perils of being a female game developer, but it also allows us to celebrate the female developers. The women who code, who put their lives on hold for the game. It shows us that women have a place in this industry, too. The book impressed me with this so much, I referred it to many of my former coworkers, male and female, some in the industry, some not.
Perhaps the most impressive thing, to me, about this book was the clear and honest reactions of Dez to people. So very many writers gloss over how a person who was raped will react to sex or a person who was tortured will react to touch. I feel like Cox and Hadley really took the time to delve into the psyche of somebody who was brutalized in more ways than one and find out how that person would react. What would it take for that person to fall in love? What kind of person would it take to fall in love with that person? I cried and laughed with the characters as Dez and Chance BOTH grew into the couple they could be. As the whole team grew to be stronger together, becoming the base that Dez needed to face the industry again.
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