Recent written review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
You by Caroline Kepness
Recent written review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
You by Caroline Kepness
Ready Player One is pure sugar, you know it isn’t anything of substance, but it is just so much fun to devour. Let me first say that I was highly skeptical coming into this book. I really thought that any book that relied so heavily on nostalgia to create a story is gimmicky. Do I still think that? Well, yah, this is extremely gimmicky, but it is a fun, fast read. If you are a gamer, like 80s nostalgia, or you just like really nerdy things, you’ll probably get some love out of this book. If you are neither of these things, I can definitely see how this book would not be for you whatsoever.
The basic premise of this book is that a billionaire passes away but before he does he leaves his fortune to be found inside a large virtual reality video game. Players will use the clues he leaves behind in order to find the easter eggs in the game to seize control of his company. Because the stakes are so high, there is a large corporation that has many gamers trying to figure out how to solve the riddles. This corporation serves as the antagonist of the book. We follow a young boy that lives his life through the virtual world and he is the first one to figure out the clue to the first riddle. He meets friends through his quest and it very much becomes a them vs the corporation book. Each riddle and clue has to do with 80s nostalgia and these players surround themselves in the 80s at all times.
The first thing I want to say is that this glorification of past eras by individuals in the future seems a little hard to believe. Yes, there is a lot of money on the line, but these kids absolutely love watching old 80s tv and movies. Now, most kids I know wouldn’t be caught dead watching these old tv shows and movies. For there to be an entire generation of gamers that are preoccupied with the 80s is a bit optimistic. Furthermore, the amount of research that these kids have put into learning and memorizing television shows and movies is beyond believable. Our main character, Wade, has put in so much time watching all these different 80s forms of media, and it just isn’t reasonable to be able to believe he had the time to do all this. We are suppose to believe that he has memorized an entire decade’s worth of media in his young life? Yah, ok.
Regardless, this book is a ton of fun, and I had a blast reading it. As a former MMO gamer, a lot of the book was very relatable to me. As someone that grew up in the 80s, I loved the nostalgia bits. I wanted more of the actual friendships between the kids and less hype because I never felt like I connected to the characters emotionally in any way. This was a fun read and I’m glad I read it when I did. I purposely waited until the hype died down some with this book and I think that made me enjoy it even more. If you go into the book jaded or cynical from the very beginning, I would recommend just waiting until you are a little more accepting about what Ready Player One will deliver.
16/25 Possible Score
4/5 World Building
3/5 Writing Style
3/5 Heart & Mind Aspect
N.K. Jemisin News: http://www.tor.com/2017/08/18/nk-jemisin-lovecraft-trilogy/
Reversion by Nin Harris: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/harris_08_17/
The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin:
You by Caroline Kepnes: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20821614-you
Twisted Knots by D.A. Xiaolin Spires
The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
Kill or Be Killed Issue 10 by Brubaker, Phillips, and Breitweiser
Tomorrow’s Short Story:
Reversion by Nin Harris
Currently Reading You by Caroline Kepnes
Next week’s possible reads:
Food of the Gods by Cassandra Khaw
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
The Last Witness by K.J. Parker
In the comments below let me know which I should read next week. Follow along with the read if you want. Ask me a question on twitter or in the comments and I’ll answer it tomorrow.
If I had to sum up this police detective murder mystery in one word it would be: quality. In the Woods by Tana French is such a high-quality book that I really enjoyed. I almost always gravitate towards either classic mystery or longer mystery books if I read in the genre. The reason I usually like to read longer mystery books is that they usually have more characterization between characters solving the crimes and In the Woods does this spectacularly. The two main detectives, Rob and Cassie, have pasts that influence how they perceive the present, and Tana French, with great skill, makes those past events really matter. When there is a drastic change in the character’s behavior, the reader can pinpoint the reason why they are acting strangely, giving the reader empathy for French’s characters.
Rob disappeared with his friends as a child and was the only one to be found. In the present, a young girl goes murdered in the same area where Rob disappeared many years before. The plot of this book is not complicated whatsoever but French writes the characters with such complexity that it makes the plot that much better. I had a great time reading this book. I wanted to find out more about our two detectives as much as I wanted to know the revelation of the killer. Rob and Cassie’s partnership and friendship is the highlight of the story for me. Both character’s baggage really comes into play with their friendship and it is something that feels very real to life. I love the Irish setting and I hope to read all of Tana French’s books now because she’s an excellent writer.
19/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
5 – Characters
3 – Setting
4 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect
Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence seems to be one of those quintessential fantasy books of the modern era that a lot of people talk about. This is a basic story about revenge but what makes this fantasy book different than a lot of other fantasy revenge plots is that our protagonist is rather young. Jorg is around 13/14 years old for most of this book and around 9 at the beginning. When his brother and mother are brutally murdered Jorg turns to a group of prisoners to exact his revenge. After he helps them escape, they become a band of outlaws in the countryside, finding ways to hurt the rival kingdom that had his family assassinated.
Due to what happened to Jorg, the company he now keeps, and his overall lack of empathy, Jorg is not a hero in the traditional sense. He kills without mercy and his men take what they want. I have read a lot of different opinions on this book and some people have a hard time with Jorg and his men’s actions because they talk about rape a small amount. I want to make this clear, there is not an actual scene describing the rapes, these are just horrible men saying that they did. This is a relatively small part of the book in my opinion but I can still understand why some people might not want to read it. For reference, this book reminded me a lot of The Vikings television show. Jorg is a lot like Ragnar Lothbrok in his leadership abilities and charisma. If Vikings or Game of Thrones bothered you with their content then this book might be one you want to skip.
Overall, I enjoyed reading Prince of Thorns because it was a fast and a mostly exciting read. This book was rather short and a lot of the long traveling scenes are really cut out to focus on the different scenes. There are some really memorable scenes in this book that had me completely engaged. There is a throne room scene that was absolutely amazing. The characters are interesting and the reveal of the dark forces behind things make things really intriguing going forward in this series. I like how the magic is very unknowable and mystical in nature this early in the series.
Unfortunately, I never really completely believed that Jorg, as a pre-teen/young teen, could actually garner the respect that he got from his men. I also had a hard time that Jorg was able to best a lot of fully grown men in combat. Yes, he uses his cunning a lot to win battles, but he is still a teenager. Yes, I understood that he might have some “assistance” but I couldn’t help but scratch my head at times. Also, because this book is so short, it can seem rather jumpy from scene to scene. I did really like how the book showed flashbacks rather seamlessly to make the reader have more context in the current present scene.
Prince of Thorns was a good book but I really hope that King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns impresses me more. I’m looking forward to unpacking the mysteries of this world, especially the magically entities controlling from the background. I don’t think that Mark Lawrence justifies the hate he gets from some readers. I’m not a fan of when readers attack an author for the actions of their characters or world building. Dislike the book, not the author. This author hate attitude only makes sense when the actions of the author in real life line up with the content of the book and from everything I’ve seen Lawrence is a good guy that does a lot for the fantasy community.
14/25 Possible Score
3/5 – Plot
3/5 – Characters
3/5 – World Building
3/5 – Writing Style
2/5 – Heart & Mind Aspect