It's about 11 A.M. where I am now, writing this. Approximately eight hours ago I was awake, voraciously devouring the last half (about 75-ish pages) o...moreIt's about 11 A.M. where I am now, writing this. Approximately eight hours ago I was awake, voraciously devouring the last half (about 75-ish pages) of this book - my first John Green - in one sitting. There's not a lot I can say about those last few chapters without giving away the abundant literary flourishes that John Green pulls out of his immense bag of tricks. But I can say this, and at this point I'm just another statistic falling in line, but here it is: I cried.
In the book Hazel constantly describes being on the phone with Augustus as like being in a third non-terrestrial space. Like the center of the venn diagram, somewhere only they can coexist in. It sounds like utter bullshit, right? That's John Green's greatest slight of hand here: he creates situations and dialogue that in other hands would come off as saccharine and sappy, but absolutely do not. Hazel and Augustus felt actually, honestly REAL. These are two kids that totally make sense together, you never for one moment wonder why one likes the other. And another of Mr. Green's great feats: he totally distracts you with brilliant bon mots and stupidly genius dialogue while you read, almost forgetting what the story is about.
Some of my favorites: "The world went on, as it does, without my full participation, and I only woke up from the reverie when someone said my name."
"It occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that everything might be done better and again."
"It was the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn't built for humans, we were built for the world."
This is a sixteen-year-old that easily could have come off as snotty and pretentious, and maybe some of those lines do, out of context, but Hazel is anything but. She's warm and selfless and self-aware and willing to read the novelization of a video game without question or repulsion. I guess the literary term is "layers." If it is, she has 'em. She has a bit of a monologue towards the novel's end that best displays all of this (edited for spoilers): "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."
How fucking great is that?
To get back to the story: the ending, and last few chapters, are gut-wrenching. Soul crushing. Universe-ending. And totally, completely, 110% earned. Never, at any point, do you feel played or like someone is poking you in the shoulder and whispering, "Hey... this is where you cry... go on... omg yeah that line was sooo sad, right? Here's a tissue." It's the truth, Green plays his story out to the logical conclusion, and while it may be a tad predictable, it is one of the best fictional endings I've ever read.
Now, the nitpicking. I love Hazel's narration, but it occasionally dips into colloquial terminology that feels really weird against her and Augustus' normal and hilariously smart banter. Uses of words like "Doucheface", "Assclown", and "Douche" in general feel so strange juxtaposed next to gems like, "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." I just don't buy that the same girl that has the mental fortitude to worry about the ghettoization of scrambled eggs would ever use the word "Doucheface." But, hey, maybe that's just me.
It's not that I don't think she'd never curse, I totally could see her dropping F-bombs in frustration, so maybe it's just the YA of it all that forced Green to be more creative with the curses. But even something like "Dick", to me, would have been more believable. Especially in the conversation that "Doucheface" is used, which I won't spoil, but is the one moment in the book that the emotional gut-punch of is utterly robbed the second that word drops out of Hazel's mouth.
There are also way too many moments when Hazel comments on Augustus' features. "His strong arms pulling me into his muscular chest", "Sinewy muscles", "Powerful chest", etc. There's one excuse I'd allow for this, but it pertains to a spoiler. So I can't talk about it. I get it. She's a sixteen year old girl. I get it. And she falls in love with him for more than these attributes... I've just read way too many shitty YA books that are obsessed with stuff like this. And this book is NOT one of those, so when word choices like that crept in, it felt... jarring. Like, really, does both his arms AND chest need adjectives in the same sentence? The answer is no.
But all that crap doesn't matter. This is a good book. A great book, actually. It isn't perfect, but it's easy to overlook its imperfections because of its awesome and endearing totality. Just another Cancer Perk, I guess.(less)
For a Valve and Portal uber-fanatic like me, this was pretty much crack. It reads smoothly, perfectly portrays the intense stress that was behind the...moreFor a Valve and Portal uber-fanatic like me, this was pretty much crack. It reads smoothly, perfectly portrays the intense stress that was behind the making of Portal 2, and the euphoria of its release. The behind-the-scenes theme to it all makes it feel personal and secretive; like you're the only one seeing all of it. And the snazzy iPad app features, like rotating vistas of the Valve offices, interactive demos and timelines make this any Valve fanboys (or girls) wet dream.
Hilarious, brilliant, and endearingly off-beat. It's written with a quick pace and wit, making it a super quick read (just under the hour mark for me)...moreHilarious, brilliant, and endearingly off-beat. It's written with a quick pace and wit, making it a super quick read (just under the hour mark for me). Although I am not quite sure what these "subspace highway" things are, how all the characters seem to know how to take down a bad guy (and with style), or any other rules of this crazy little book's universe, but i do know one thing. I loved every frame of it.(less)
Surpasses the original trilogy in just about every way. The new setting is imaginative and really, just awesomely futuristic. The story is a welcome c...moreSurpasses the original trilogy in just about every way. The new setting is imaginative and really, just awesomely futuristic. The story is a welcome change to the old formula of city/wild/city, which mixes a societal system based on popularity, some wild train hoverboarding chases, four armed aliens, and the best android character I have ever read about. And he never says a single word of dialogue.
So this one takes place about three and a half years after Tally destroys the Uglies/Pretties/Specials society that plagued humanity for 300 years. The world is trying to catch up with centuries of setback that that regime put on humans, with an intense surge of new technology.
In Japan, in some unknown city, Aya Fuse is trying to kick a story about a clique of girls who do extreme stunts in secrecy. You see, in her city, every person is assigned a "feed", basically your very own little site on the City Interface (think Facebook and Twitter). You fill it with your personal what-nots, pictures, vids of family, friends and vacations. But "kickers" try to find new and interesting things going on in the city to put on their feed, so more people view it, raising their face rank.
Aya's face rank is 451,396. She's an extra. A nobody. Completely invisible to higher ranks. Like her brother, Hiro, famous for kicking a story about doctors possibly hiding an immortality supplement.
The plot takes a little while to get moving, but becomes a great mystery about secret weapons staches, a possible plot to destroy the human race by what seems like aliens, and a happy meet up (for the reader, not so much for the new characters) with characters from the first books.
Oh and Moggle. Oh. My. God. Moggle. Basically in Aya's city, everyone gets a hovercam when they're old enough. It's how you capture all important moments in life for your feed. But Hiro's friend Ren modded Aya's to almost sentient intelligence, and it turns out to be the cutest, funniest and most endearing character in the book. He can't talk, but to convey understanding he blinks brilliant lights, always blinding Aya. He gets paranoid after a near drowning early on in the book, and starts checking corners when Aya sends him on snoop jobs. And he is the size of a soccer ball so he can carry Aya when she needs to sneak out of her dorm, or, more importantly, make a quick escape from a fiery inferno. Can I have one?
It may be ironic that the best book in the series was the companion novel, but it still honors the first three books' characters. It just adds so much extra (no pun intended), it perfectly lays out where more books in the series could go, (and seriously, Westerfeld, make more. I would very much like to see where humanity goes, knowing how this one ends) while tying up every hanging plot thread nicely. Even Tally and David's relationship gets closure.
As a bridge between Wizard and Glass & Wolves of the Calla, this book couldn't be more perfect. It draws on the dark, down-to-earth nostalgia of g...moreAs a bridge between Wizard and Glass & Wolves of the Calla, this book couldn't be more perfect. It draws on the dark, down-to-earth nostalgia of growing up in a harsh, mean world that Wizard did beautifully, but it also introduces the bat-shit crazy, heady material of alternate dimensions and dense mythos that Wolves began introducing in its later pages. So it may not move the overall plot forward, but it's not supposed to. That plot already ended eight years ago. This is a bridge book. A book meant for newcomers to the series to read as The Dark Tower 4.5, and in that head-space, it's up there with the best of King's work. (less)
Unabashedly the best of the series. Although it had lengthy gaps in action or meaty information, the dialogue and characters, as usual, were fun, witt...moreUnabashedly the best of the series. Although it had lengthy gaps in action or meaty information, the dialogue and characters, as usual, were fun, witty and entertaining. The resolution of the saga was satisfying, and most importantly, did not feel like a cop out. I was expecting more character's to die in the end, and would have liked a more detailed description of the final battle (We really only get it from Simon's point of view for about 4 pages). But, all-in-all, it does the series justice and ends on a really upbeat note.
Looking back, i tried to remember why i stopped reading the first around the 80 page mark, and i just remember feeling as if Clary was a whiny heroine with no real personality, Jace an arrogant douche bag, essentially, the only character i really connected to was Simon. But all the characters, even side characters, grow so much throughout the three books. I was completely wrong in my assessments so early in the series, as i should have been.
Let's just say I have never been so happy to be proven wrong. Because Jace and Clary's relationship is the most well thought out, thrilling, and heartbreaking all-at-once romance i've ever read about. Even though I haven't read many romances, i think that's saying something.(less)
I don't think I've ever encountered a fictional world so full of moral blind spots and gray areas than in Westeros. And I'm in f*cking love with it be...moreI don't think I've ever encountered a fictional world so full of moral blind spots and gray areas than in Westeros. And I'm in f*cking love with it because of that.
The shifting perspectives per chapter never feels gimmicky or useless. You get the feeling when you read this series that each moment, each piece of dialogue and each thought means something. There are never any throwaway chapters, never nothing that doesn't pertain to the overall arc of the series. You may think they are early on in the book (*coughTheoncough*), but Martin always has a twist up his sleeve to prove to you that even annoying psychopaths have a narrative purpose.
You get the feeling that he's known where he's going with this from the opening line of book one, and who will all live and die to see it by the time the series is done. It gives you a sense of confidence in the author as you read. As if that, in someone else's hands, the dozens of protagonists, locations, and sheer scale of the thing could have fallen apart at the seams. Like you're safe as you read it, all snuggled up in the insane, twisty plot.
Which is ironic, being that most of those characters themselves are in constant threat of being beheaded, their heads stuck on spikes for all the realm to see.
I would pay the iron price for some sort of anomaly in time and space to bring me every book from the future so I can just sit down and read how it all ends.(less)
I can't believe King wrote this at the same age i am now. It's brilliant, oddly unique and beautifully written in a language that's kind of like ours,...moreI can't believe King wrote this at the same age i am now. It's brilliant, oddly unique and beautifully written in a language that's kind of like ours, but not quite, just like the world in which it takes place.
I knew going into this i wouldn't get many answers. Why does Roland feel so compelled to get to this Dark Tower? No idea. Who exactly is the man in black? Never sure. What ever happened to all of the other Gunslingers? Don't ask me. Despite all of this confusion in the beginning, and a slightly slow build up, the middle and end has enough really cool gun fights and mutant battles to satisfy my jaded Young Adult series mind.
Oh, and there's a, well, amazing, chapter towards the last couple of pages in which a character literally explains to Roland, what he perceives, as the nature of the Universe and meaning of life. The implications to the story and to Roland are really heavy and that's where i felt King had me hooked. I was in this thing for the long haul, so to speak.
I already know that i will be finishing this series. I'm feeling as desperate as Roland must have in wanting to discover all of the Dark Tower's mysterious secrets.(less)
There aren't many instances where two mediums I love intertwine and connect in a holy union of awesomeness. I've read books about nerds, hackers, vide...moreThere aren't many instances where two mediums I love intertwine and connect in a holy union of awesomeness. I've read books about nerds, hackers, video games and geek culture (Little Brother, meh). There has yet to be a totally awesome sci-fi epic for the Xbox generation. Until now.
The year is 2044, and the outlook is bleak. After a huge barrage of energy and oil crises, the world has been reduced to shambles. Trailer parks have turned into 20-car-high and miles wide mini-cities, with rickety walkways and ladders haphazardly placed between them. These "stacks" are littered across the country, usually located right outside larger cities to suck power and electricity.
Wade Watts lives in one of these. But only technically. Mentally, he lives in the OASIS - a MMO to end all MMOs. Created by uber-nerd, tech genius, and geek god of the year 2044 James Halliday, the simulation is a complete sensory experience. From toddler-age, you're inducted into the simulation. Kids go to school, teens go to high school and college, all on the education planet called Ludus. And after that, it's a world, nay, universe of possibilities.
Because, see, the OASIS is divided into sectors. 27 to be exact, 3 rows and columns of 3, stacked to form a Rubix Cube. Planets are built and coded to reference any form of pop culture: Joss Whedon's Firefly universe finds home in one sector; you could go battle Sauron with the hobbits on Middle Earth; help Roland and his ka-tet discover the secrets of The Dark Tower on Mid-World; and ponder the meanings of the universe with the Ultimate Computer on Magrathea. And what about actual old MMO's? Well, GSS bought out rights to every one ever created, and each resides on its own planet to be played. World of Warcraft junkies will piss themselves when they ready about the Azeroth planet. It's excitingly presented, and immediately made me hate my old normal Xbox for it's lack of possibilities.
But in this world, Halliday hid the ultimate Easter Egg. Following his death, he announced a contest, the winner of which would ascertain his entire fortune (he's the richest guy on earth, easy to understand since any virtual real estate he sells is pure profit, since it costs him nothing to write a couple of lines of code to build) and own the OASIS.
And that is the main thrust of the book's plot: Wade's desperate quest to find the three keys and open the three gates, ultimately winning the Egg. But the evil IOI is more than willing to commit a few acts of murder IRL (in real life, you n00b) to get to the egg first, taking over the OASIS to charge ungodly monthly fees and turn it into an advertising nightmare.
I loved the characters, any video game nerd will easily project themselves into Wade. The online relationships of forming best friends and girlfriends without meeting IRL is perfectly realized and built upon until the very end, with a few fun twists along the way.
It's paced brilliantly, with ferociously readable quests, trials and puzzles to solve. And not to mention one hell of an epic final battle. Remember, this is a world where magic wizards cast frozen shards of ice at a towering robot from an obscure japanese manga cartoon from 1977. It's pure nerd-stabation, and I absolutely loved it for that.
But, in the end, it's a novel about loving something so much, it's all that matters in your world - the essential definition of geek (or nerd, whatever epithet you chose). Nerds can save the world. I'll read a book with a message like that any day.(less)