In the year 2039 the creator of the world’s largest interactive online simulation, OASIS, dies a very rich man. However, he has named no heirs to his...moreIn the year 2039 the creator of the world’s largest interactive online simulation, OASIS, dies a very rich man. However, he has named no heirs to his fortune. Instead, in his video will, he sets a task to the people of the world. There is an Easter egg hidden somewhere within the vast universes of OASIS. In order to find it, players must find three keys and three gates. He leaves a clue to the first key and immediately a frenzy begins as the winner stands inherit not only OASIS, but the hundreds of billions of dollars the man had. For five years no one can even find the first key, until high school student Wade Watts gets very, very lucky, triggering a frantic race.
Throughout the book of Ready Player One readers are able to experience the vast, intricate and odd world of OASIS, a place both wonderful (there’s a Whedonverse!) and unreal. But at the same time we are introduced to an Earth that is a dismal place, ravaged by wars, with high unemployment, incredible numbers of homeless and a money-grubbing evil corporation, people are escaping into OASIS more and more simply so they don’t have to face reality.
Ernest Cline has managed to create two very interesting and unique worlds, and the clues and the hints the egg hunters (or “gunters”) are given to find the keys and gates are detailed and interesting. The journey through OASIS, the race against other gunters, Wade’s realizations about the world, and the antagonist of the evil corporation IOI all combine for a great read.
However, this book had some pretty big flaws, the main one being pacing. The middle of the book is a real killer. There is a lull between passing the first gate and finding the second key. Wade falls into a funk, he’s depressed, he’s wasting time, he can’t concentrate on the game and overall I lost interest a little myself. Then the pace picks up frantically as after the second key is found, the second gate is quickly passed and the third key is found even faster. It seemed very uneven to me.
Another thing is the ’80s references. OASIS’s creator loved the ’80s because he was a teenager then, so he makes all sorts of references to games and shows and music of that time in a journal he left behind. As a result, the world becomes obsessed with old games like Adventure, television shows like Schoolhouse Rock and bands like Rush, believing, correctly, that knowledge of his obsessions would help them find the Easter egg. I always find making references to current or past pop culture a cop out. In this book it make sense, it really does, in order for the gunters to figure out the keys, but I quickly got ’80s fatigue at all the name dropping and references and factoids. Technologically, the world in which Ready Player One takes place has progressed, but it stymied culturally, never advancing and in fact actually backtracking to, of all decades, the ’80s.
The book raises the interesting concept that, like the Internet, you could be anyone in OASIS. So I enjoyed learning a little more about the people behind the avatars. (view spoiler)[Although it was disappointing that the person we learn the least about was Art3mis. We get very interesting back stories with Shoto and Aech, but Art3mis, the love interest, never really gets developed much. When they meet the focus is on the mark on her face, to prove the point that physical appearance doesn’t matter to Wade, he fell in love with her long ago in OASIS. But we don’t get any background on her. She’s a college student who lives in Canada. That’s about it. Whereas Shoto explains his backstory with Daito, how they met and why they felt like they were brothers. Aech explains her troubles with her mother and why she chose to be a Caucasian male in OASIS despite being a black female in real life. (hide spoiler)]
Ready Player One was a unique and interesting read with a few issues that didn’t detract too much from the overall story.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I just ... this book killed me. Martin has this way of crushing all hope. And I say that with all praise. He doesn't pull any punches and horrible, ho...moreI just ... this book killed me. Martin has this way of crushing all hope. And I say that with all praise. He doesn't pull any punches and horrible, horrible things happen in this book. But that being said, it's not all doom and gloom. There are certain characters that give you hope, especially at the Wall. Those guys are the best. And I love that the characters constantly evolve and change. We see how war makes for strange bedfellows, how people's morals are tested and best of all we see who rises above and who falters.
I'm so glad I have the next book handy. I'm sure I'll devour A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, but I don't know how I'm going to wait once I finish them.
(view spoiler)[I hated Catelyn, so there's no sadness from me there. But I was devastated to see what happened to Robb. And then to hear what they did to his body afterward? That was one of the most horrifying things I read and I both dread and look forward to seeing if they actually show his body with Grey Wind's crowned head sewn on in the show. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In the second book of A Song of Ice and Fire we get to see some of our characters flourish, while others begin to sink into despair. It's a nice contr...moreIn the second book of A Song of Ice and Fire we get to see some of our characters flourish, while others begin to sink into despair. It's a nice contrast, especially since we have POVs from all sides of the fighting.
One of the interesting things about this book is that because so many of the characters are no where near one another, sometimes we have to rely on the chapter we're currently reading to find out new information. And sometimes that information isn't entirely reliable because it's based on rumors or just flat out lies. So it's interesting to actually get the characters POV without knowing the truth until a chapter or two later.
As a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings books, I went into George R.R. Martin's series with incredibly high hopes. Thankfully, I have yet to be disappointed. These books have everything I loved about LotR - the huge cast, the various points of view, characters whose trustworthiness is unknown, the journey and the character development - but Martin's books have a gritty realism to them that LotR sort of avoided for the most part. Sometimes the grittiness is a little much for me (I get it, everyone wants to rape every woman they ever come across and usually they want to rape each woman multiple times in a humiliating ways).
But to sort of, kind of, not entirely counter the overwhelmingly horrible acts done to women, we have some pretty kickass women (which LotR was sorely lacking with the lone exception of Eowyn), such as Arya, Brienne, Meera, even creeper Theon's sister Asha. Even, loathe as I am to compliment her, Cersei.(less)
This book was an absolute gem. Somehow Hobson managed to take witchcraft, steampunk, the old West and various fictional religions and create a wonderf...moreThis book was an absolute gem. Somehow Hobson managed to take witchcraft, steampunk, the old West and various fictional religions and create a wonderful adventure with two well-crafted but flawed characters.
Emily Edwards is just the time of plucky heroine I like. She’s a little crass, she can be improper and, best of all, she doesn’t become someone else when she finds love. And the thing I enjoyed was that as Emily fell in love with Dreadnought (coolest name ever), so did I. He was insufferable and incredibly obnoxious in the beginning. He was the guy who couldn’t help but correct you and rub your nose in the fact that he is smarter and richer than you. And falling in love with Dreadnought (for both the reader and Emily) is gradual, it creeps up on us and it’s utterly perfect.
The use of magic in this book was amazing. I liked how brutal and dangerous it could be. It brought a sort of realism to the story. And the villainous Caul was so very scary for me because he became less sane as the book goes on.
As a historical novel, I loved the little things Hobson put into the Native Star that helped me remember where they were in time. She mentions people (like President Ulysses S. Grant) and places (Central Park is being constructed in New York City) and it all served to help me really feel like I was back in time.
I really enjoyed the ride and can’t wait to read the next one. (The only reason it took me a week to read was because I was simultaneously reading A Song of Ice and Fire and those books are hard to put down!) (less)
I'm now moving on to The Magician's Ward, but I finished the first book and wanted to write a review while it was still fresh in my mind.
Mairelon the...moreI'm now moving on to The Magician's Ward, but I finished the first book and wanted to write a review while it was still fresh in my mind.
Mairelon the Magician: This book was a fun read, complete with a mystery, double crossings, a search and more than one pistol. I thoroughly enjoyed following the storyline and trying to figure out what exactly everyone was up to.
This is the second book this year I've read where the main female character spends the majority of her time dressed as a boy. In Camille the title character does slip into dresses on occasion and changes from a strong character to one who fell ridiculously in love with a boy after knowing him a week. On the other hand, Kim in Mairelon the Magician never changes out of her boys' attire and is often mistaken for a boy (something she encourages by never willingly letting people know she's actually a girl). I liked that about Kim because it showed how guarded she is. At the same time I couldn't help but wonder how so many people could mistake an almost 17-year-old girl as a boy after spending a significant amount of time in her company.
This book had so many characters and the way they all came together was done wonderfully and, incredibly enough, humorously. Watching the characters, of all different walks of life and stations, was engaging because of how they clashed.
As much as I enjoyed the ride while reading the book, there were times when it unfortunately lagged. For instances, I didn't like the recaps. Wrede had a tendency to follow a scene with Mairelon bringing attention to a whole bunch of unanswered questions. As the reader I knew what the questions were, and I didn't need things repeated and slowed down. Also, the finale, as humorous as it was at parts, was dragged out for far too long with far too many explanations that needed going over.
Update (3/2/11): I just finished the second book, The Magician's Ward, and I enjoyed it so much that it more than made up for any issues I had with the first book. It was great to see the various ways the characters changed but still stayed enough like themselves.
The Magician's Ward is a finely woven web of mysteries and characters. Every new character, whether or not they were involved with the main mystery, had an overall purpose in the story and even better they weren't two dimensional. The unlikable society women weren't all that bad (even if Letitia is a snobby, gold-digging brat) and they could have been horrible caricatures simply created to make Kim hate them and those like them.
Kim was amazing. She went through a huge transformation and yet was still recognizable as that girl who dressed as a boy and lived on the streets. I very much enjoyed the inner conflict she has wondering who exactly she is. She spent so much time pretending to be a boy for her safety and now she's pretending to be a society girl it's what is expected as Mairelon's ward. Either way, she's clearly playing at being someone else. I can't help but wonder when she's going to have the chance to find out who she really is.
The cast of characters in this book was amazing. From Mairelon's mother, who was quirky but still very much conscious of societal expectations, and Renee D'Auber, who is just as cool as she was in the last book, to the various toffs Kim has to deal with and even Mairelon's aunt. I'm always a sucker for when you spend almost the whole book thinking about a character one way and then they decide to do something awesome that makes you reevaluate them.
And allow me to say that this is how I like my romance done. Subtle. Simmering. Natural. I would like to thank Patricia Wrede for creating a romance that I believed, enjoyed reading about and actually rooted for. Too often romances are so unrealistic and I get a headache from rolling my eyes in disgust (and this is coming from a girl marrying her high school sweetheart), but here I loved every moment where I could see the characters realizing their feelings for one another.
This book was so highly entertaining. I definitely preferred The Magician's Ward to Mairelon the Magician, but overall they complimented one another beautifully.(less)
It would have been easy to make Eon: Dragoneye Reborn a simple story about a girl pretending to be a boy because she wants to prove herself. In realit...moreIt would have been easy to make Eon: Dragoneye Reborn a simple story about a girl pretending to be a boy because she wants to prove herself. In reality, there's so much more going on here. In this story, there are so many others relying on who they think is Eon to help prevent a plot to overthrow the emperor.
I was surprised at the gender themes going on in this book, especially since it was YA. Eona differs from Alanna in The Song of the Lioness Quartet. In private, Alanna doesn't hesitate to act as a girl or talk about the fact that she's actually female to those who know. In comparison, Eona is fully immersed in acting and behaving as a boy. She has even separated herself into Eon, the person she is everyday, and Eona, the part she keeps hidden as often as possible and the side of her she is trying to stamp out entirely.
Eona doesn't believe that she can have power as a woman, whereas Alanna wants to prove that she is strong regardless of her gender. The first person POV actually serves to cement the idea that Eona is gender identity issues. Because gender pronouns are never used during the narrative I found myself forgetting she is a female character unless something specific was mentioned to remind me.
The other interesting issues brought up are the many eunuchs and even Lady Dela, who is not only a cross-dresser, but everyone knows that she is actually a man.
I had two issues with the book, one of which was small and I quickly got over and the other that sort of soured the ending for me. Eona is one of those "super special" characters (like Bella Swan). She's not only a girl trying to keep up with boys and men, she's also a cripple, she's a former slave and she can see all of the dragons if she concentrates (whereas the other Dragoneyes can only see their own). Since it's far too easy to compare this book to the Song of the Lioness books, I found it even more unnecessary that Eona be so special. Alanna was a strong character on her own. She was touched by the gods but that wasn't so uncommon and she had strong magic, but her own brother was more powerful. She was a strong fighter, but that all came from ruthless drills and continuously pushing herself.
The other issue I had, which was much more difficult for me to get over, was how Ido is dealt with at the end. Although the war has yet to be fought, the smaller battle is wrapped up a little too neatly and I didn't think it was handled realistically.
That all said, the book was interesting from the get-go for me and once I got about 100 pages into it, it became and incredibly fast read.(less)
I was very hesitant going in because Scott Westerfeld wrote Uglies, which was like one big cliche for me. The female lead was insipid, the romance was...moreI was very hesitant going in because Scott Westerfeld wrote Uglies, which was like one big cliche for me. The female lead was insipid, the romance was predictable and just the overall story didn't do it for me.
Westerfeld is a whole different writer in Leviathan, and this story is so freaking far from Uglies that it is hard for me to admit that it's the same author. This, in my opinion, is phenomenal.
Now, I have to admit that I have a weakness for stories in which a girl is trying to pass as a boy. I blame this on the fact that I grew up reading Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet. That being said, it makes sense that Deryn’s part of the book was my favorite. She was absolutely amazing and I loved her and the absolute swagger she has. In comparison, Alek was just dull.
But overall, it was a good, fun read, and there's not too much I can complain about if I can say that about a book. However, I think for me, Leviathan reads too young, which makes sense considering how young Alek and Deryn are; but at the same time it was a little disappointing.
But where this leaves off! This book doesn't have a cliffhanger ending, but it does just sort of hang there. Where Leviathan cuts off was sort of abrupt in my opinion. It sort of felt like just as the book was getting really good it ends almost as if to taunt me: "Now you have to go out and buy the next one!"(less)
I'm sort of a sucker for a good period piece and for a strong female character and this book started out with both. It faltered, it wasn't perfect, bu...moreI'm sort of a sucker for a good period piece and for a strong female character and this book started out with both. It faltered, it wasn't perfect, but overall this book was strong enough that I enjoyed having read it.
Camille does not lead a typical life for a young woman living in London in the 1800s. She dresses in trousers as a boy and spends her nights hunting werewolves with her guardian (which makes the cover a little confusing since she so rarely wears dresses). That is how she meets Nathaniel Strider, the newest victim of a werewolf bite, who Dr. Bennett and Camille have one month to study and find a cure for before he transforms.
Where this book falters for me is when it gets caught up in the romance. The language becomes unbearable (Strider actually affectionately calls her a "sopping kitten" at one point); Camille herself becomes unbearable (she finds her bottom lip quivering in his presence and she also becomes a lovesick fool). But, I enjoyed the science in this book, I enjoyed that werewolves are still monsters and not romantic creatures. I also enjoyed some of the twists (although I definitely guessed the cure well before Dr. Bennett and Camille did).
Slight sort of spoiler that doesn't ruin any plot: My absolute favorite part of this book, that showed wit and actually made me laugh out loud, is when Nathaniel and Camille kiss in public and when they notice everyone staring at them, he says "I suppose I should have waited to kiss you when you weren't dress in trousers."
Spoiler The ending ties up a little too neatly a little too quickly (Oh, surprise, we're heading to Transylvania and we've surprisingly worked out a way for Strider to come too! Hope that one-month courtship is long lasting and not just a fling born of desperation and danger!)(less)