Ready Player One Review

Ready Player One
By: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House NY (August 6th 2011)
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Ready Player One

Synopsis
(from Goodreads)

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

My Rating
3 stars out of 5

My Review

This book has amazing world building. I would love to live in a world where we have the type of virtual reality video game they have in this book. However, the storyline is lacking and seemed unimportant at times. These big battles are described, but who cares? It’s not really happening, it’s a video game. Occasionly someone’s real life is in danger, but most of the time the stakes were high enought for me to care about the ending.

I think this is a popular book because of the abundant 80s pop/nerd culture references. This gets tiring though. There are long lists of name-checking fantasy and sci-fi characters, settings, authors and other pop culture references that at a certain point stopped adding to the world building. There are constant comparisions that don’t make sense if the reader is not familiar with the reference.

The story had some dystopian elements that I liked. The real world is overcrowded and impoverished, but people can escape that and spend all their time in the virtual reality of the Oasis.

I did take issue with some of the technology described in the book. The main character uses futuristic inventions all the time – a chemical to disolve his hair instead of having to shave, advanced computers to simulate the character’s actions in the Oasis, and an AI to talk to, but he still had to diet and exercise to lose weight. The history surrounding the creation of the Oasis was a bit muddled. It was supposed to be this great place where there was no fee to join, but you have to pay to do pretty much anything in it, including travel and clothes for your avatar. Another thing is the Oklahoma City trailor park the main character starts out in, where the trailors are stacked on top of each other. I get that the author is trying to describe instense poverty, but a stack of trailers isn’t going to survive tornado season in Oklahoma, no matter what year it is.

There are a some things I liked about this book, but some I didn’t. If you like video games and nerd culture, you will enjoy the world building, but if your knowledge in that subject is lacking, it will be boring and unrelateable.

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The Colour of Magic Review

The Colour of Magic
By: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Corgi Books (November 24th 1983)
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colour of magic

Synopsis
(from Goodreads)

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious buy inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

My Rating
5 out of 5 stars

My Review

I started reading this book years ago, but couldn’t get into it. Someone encouraged me to try again and I’m glad I did. It is slow in the beginning but my patience was rewarded with engaging comedy.

The main character is Rincewind, a wizard who can’t do magic. At the start of the book, he meets Twoflower, the discworld’s first tourist, who has come to Ankh-Morpork from a far-away land known as the Counterweight Continent. Twoflower has with him a magic luggage which follows him everywhere and is filled with gold coins. They then get into one predicament after another, involving a Lovecraftian monster, dragons, trolls, and Death himself.

In a 1985 lecture on fantasy in literature, Pratchett describes it as “an attempt to do for the classical fantasy universe what Blazing Saddles did for Westerns.” To me, the Discworld books are like a fantasy novel sitcom, like Red Dwarf (a sci-fi sitcom) but with swords and sorcery. 

This book ends on a cliff hanger, so plan on reading the second Discworld book to find out what happens to all the characters, but different settings and situations are introduced in later books, all taking place on the Discworld. There is a tv film adaption starring David Jason as Rincewind, Sean Astin as Twoflower, Tim Curry as a wizard named Trymon (who has a bigger role in the next novel), and Christopher Lee as Death.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Discworld series.

About the Author
(from Wikipedia)

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, OBE (born 28 April 1948) is an English author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known for the Discworld series of about 40 volumes. Pratchett’s first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel (The Colour of Magic) was published in 1983, he has written two books a year on average. Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, and has sold over 85 million books worldwide in 37 languages. He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US.

Warm Bodies Review

Warm Bodies
By: Isaac Marion
Publisher: Random House Vintage (October 28th 2010)
Amazon Link
Goodreads Page

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Synopsis
(from Goodreads)

‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…

My Rating
4 out of 5 stars

My Review

This book is a zombie love story. How original is that? It had a little bit of gore, and a lot of young romance. It kept me very entertained. I watched the movie after reading it and it changed my opinion slightly. The movie cut out some things from the book, and thinking back, those things (Zombie Marriage, um what?) were actually pretty dumb. Overall it was a good quick read, and an original story, but I don’t think I would read it again or read any other stories in the series.

About the Author
(from Goodreads)

Isaac Marion was born near Seattle in 1981 and has lived in and around that city ever since. He began writing in high school and self-published three novels before finally breaking through with Warm Bodies. He currently splits his time between writing more novels, playing obscure instruments in obscure bands, and exploring the country in his 1977 GMC motorhome.

The Vanishing Review

The Vanishing
By: Wendy Webb
Publisher: Hyperion (January 21, 2014)
Goodreads Page
Amazon Link

Image
Synopsis
(from Goodreads)

Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired…and who the world believes is dead.

When she arrives at the Sinclairs’ enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her “too-good-to-be-true” position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls.

My Rating
3 out of 5 stars

My Review

I won a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

This is about a woman who is invited to live at an old mansion in the snow covered forest of Minnesota near Lake Superior. The setting was fantastic (Lake Superior is definitely the Greatest Lake) and I loved imagining the mansion surrounded by snow and woods.

This book totally hooked me and I had trouble putting it down. Page after page, almost right up to the last one, I was excited to see what came next. The build up was sort of a psychological thriller, in that sometimes I wasn’t sure if it was a ghost story, or if it was all in the main character’s head.

As the remaining pages dwindled, and the mystery had not yet been solved, I grew concerned over whether it would be solved at all. Then, suddenly, the mystery was revealed and resolved and the book was over. It left me scratching my head, wondering how everything was tidied up so quickly. It took the entire book for the main character to figure out what was going on and only a few pages to fix it? That doesn’t make sense to me.

Then there’s the epilogue, which throws the ending out the window so that now I don’t know what was going on during the whole story.

Overall it was well written and an enjoyable read, but a frustrating ending.

About the Author
(from Goodreads)

WENDY WEBB’s novels are mysteries about long-buried family secrets, set in big, old haunted houses on the Great Lakes.

A longtime journalist, Wendy lives in Minnesota.