Tag Archives: Young Adult

Ready Player One Review

At the suggestion of a friend I listened to Ready Player One (narrated by Wil Wheaton). I wasn’t really expecting anything amazing, and I wasn’t expecting crap. I got neither, but I am underwhelmed.

Spoilers from this point on.

Ready Player One takes place in a near dystopian future where humanity spends most of its time playing the video game The Oasis. The Oasis is the online RPG where most of the art, culture, scientific knowledge, and anything else you can think of is stored on there with countless people playing the video game at all times. The Oasis was created by James Halliday who was both eccentric and obsessed with pop culture from the eighties ranging from cheesy sitcoms, videogames, blockbusters from the time period, to even Japanese anime and Tokusatsu.

The plot follows Wade Watts, a Gunter (low level Easter Egg Hunter) on his quest to find the three keys that lead to the Easter Egg left in the game data by Halliday in order to gain his company and fortune in a contest to find an heir (kind of like Willie Wonka). Things in Wade’s life begin to change when he discovered the first key leading to the Easter Egg by accident causing a chain effect of many other players in the Oasis video game to discovering that the Easter Egg quest is not a hoax after all.

Along with regular players in the game, Wade also has the competition of the Sixers; employees of the IOI company who aim to win the Easter Egg contest to apply the usual capitalism to The Oasis game and ruin it for everyone. The Sixers have countless resources at their disposal and are willing to even resort to homicide in the real world killing both their targets and innocent civilians that are in their way.

While I didn’t hate the story, I feel like much of the story was devoted primarily to exposition of the world of the Oasis and explaining real life secrets in video games and pop culture with the most obscure references known to only a handful of people at most. After most of the exposition is done the story flows fairly well though; Wade becomes famous by accident, goes from living a shitty home life to a more decent life, gets the girl and loses her (it looks like he eventually gets her in the end though), has a heroic blue screen of death, and saves the day by accident.

My complaint is that we don’t really learn much of the real world beyond the video game (which kind of makes sense because the novel wants us to focus on the game and Wade and his friends defeating big evil capitalists). We don’t know just how awful the real world really is; are all the animals dead? Is there no plant life? How is Saturday Night Live still going into the 2040s, how is the Wil Wheaton administration going? We never get those questions or answers in the novel outside of some minor mentioning from the character Art3mis (the “girl I gotta impress” of the story).

The strongest part of the novel is the pop culture references primarily from the eighties. I was a little shocked that I got more of the Japanese culture references in the book instead of the eighties  culture reference (the writers of Glee would be devastated how little I know of Rush). There really is a little bit of everything the reader can relate to even if the reader isn’t into video games or nerdy related content. If they’re into movies, there’s movie references, tv shows, there’s a reference!

Wil Wheaton’s narration for the audiobook was a nice match for the book; he always kept a humorous tone and was serious when it needed to be. I highly recommend anyone interested to listen to the audiobook.

Views on the film adaption

I was vaguely aware of the film adaption of Ready Player One until recently. I can’t help but feel that Steven Spielberg was going for the last breaths of the dystopian “teens gotta save the world” movie trend that was started by The Hunger Games. Obviously the film adaption can’t stay true to the source material (no chance of getting Super Sentai Spiderman Mecha in this film), but it does look nice to look at so I might enjoy what will be presented to the audience.

While I wasn’t too impressed with Ready Player One, it was a fun and exciting listening experience. I give Ready Player One by Ernest Cline two out of three keys.

Many Waters Review

        As many of you know the new movie adaption of A Wrinkle in Time is set up to be released next year, so out of excitement I decided to reread Madeleine L’Engle’s books because I am a big fan. I then realized I hadn’t ever gotten around to read Many Waters for some reason and was a little shocked I never did so since the story revolves around Sandy and Dennys Murry.

        As mentioned above the story revolves around Sandy and Dennys Murry, the two self proclaimed normal of the Murry children in comparison of the prodigies of Meg and Charles Wallace. When they return home one winter afternoon and go into their parent’s personal lab both Sandy and Dennys are transported to the time of Noah and the ark. Reading this book actually reminded me a lot of the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis which was a science fiction series from a Christian perspective that all other creatures in the universe were aware of the existence of God and the universe beyond them.

Spoilers from this point on, I’m running out of witty things to type in the bold text.

        Unlike the adventures of their siblings Sandy and Dennys are not as adventure ready as readers would believe. For one thing when exposed to the desert climate both Sandy and Dennys suffer from a heat stroke and spend the first half of the book recovering from severe sunburns. At the same time it separates both twins from each other allowing both of them to realize their own personal individual traits that they had never realized about themselves due to always being with each other.

        Along with their own self discovery that both twins aren’t completely like each other Sandy and Dennys begin to realize there is more to them besides being the ‘normal ones’ that they had always called themselves. Dennys has a very strong understanding of the experiments that both his parents perform and the science that Mr and Mrs Murry research and experiment with. In comparison to the adventures of Meg and Charles Wallace, Sandy and Dennys spend significantly more time on their adventure while Meg and Charles Wallace on technicality devoted a few hours to their own adventures (time travel kind of makes it hard to determine who spent the most time on their adventure).

        As mentioned earlier the book takes place during the time of Noah before the days of the great flood. The great flood itself plays a minor role in the story for the first three quarters of the book with major focus being on Sandy, Dennys, Noah’s family and the works of the Seraphim and Nephilim. There is also another tribe of not so nice people who are envious to Noah’s tribe, one of these characters is named Tiglah.

        I want to talk about Tiglah in this review mainly to compare the style of YA writing from when this book was published and how Tiglah would be viewed now. Many Waters was published in 1986 where it was more or less it was frowned upon to be sexually active and open about it as a teenager in the media. In this book Tiglah is in love with one of the Nephilim (fallen Seraphim) and does his bidding for him at one point trying to seduce Sandy and Dennys because the Nephilim are wary of them.

        Throughout the book I felt very sorry for Tiglah and constantly hoped that she would be redeemed; it wasn’t her fault that she ended up this way and clearly she didn’t think that her sexual nature was a bad thing. She admits to genuinely caring about both Sandy and Dennys and hoping that things go well for them as the great flood begins and it is heavily implied that she drowns in the great flood for her ways.

        I think if Tiglah were a character in a modern YA book she would have had more depth to her explored; she may have even been given her own character development and realize that the Nephilim don’t care for her and at least leave her wicked family and ask Noah and his family to give her refuge and teach her to be good.

        Tiglah is also called a slut by Sandy when she tries to convince him to give her his virginity, something that wouldn’t sit well with modern readers (okay more than likely the christian audience would be okay with that.)

        To contrast Tiglah there is Yalith, one of the daughters of Noah; Yalith is essentially a Pure Mary Sue. She is good and kind to all she meets, she nurses Dennys back to health, rejects a Nephilim who claims to be in love with her, convinces the Seraphim to love her (platonically) and is stuck in a love triangle with Sandy and Dennys eventually admitting that she is in love with both of them and it is the mutual love between herself and Sandy that Sandy decides not to have sex with Tiglah. When the issue comes around that Noah can only take his sons and their wives onto the arc and Yalith must be left behind, it is discovered that Yalith is so pure, she can be given a free pass into heaven body and soul because she’s that pure.

        I don’t hate the character of Yalith, but it just annoyed me at times at how she’s presented as the most pure thing in the world and everyone must love her unconditionally. Okay that’s enough ranting about Tiglah and Yalith.

        Concerning the story itself it was very interesting at how ideas and themes presented in the book are actually a very big deal for some people today. One issue frequently brought up is Sandy’s agnostic views and how he needs to “see it to believe it.” At first he treats the story of Noah and the Ark as the equivalent of Norse and Greek mythology, stories told to people that aren’t true, of course with L’Engle being a religious woman, Sandy does believe in unicorns (there is no way I can cover the topic of the importance of unicorns in this book and keep the review brief), but this belief is a result of seeing a unicorn and then believing they are real.

        Sandy also points out in annoyance how many of the women he met on this journey are adapted out of the Bible because the Bible was written by men who viewed the male presence as more important than the female presence.

        Along with this Sandy has comparisons with the unkind people who aren’t part of Noah’s family and terrorists who hijack planes, which in today’s world is a very scary reality that has happened more and more regularly with new forms of shock and horror.

        I’ll end this review by saying that parts of it did hit close to home, particularly since during my time reading this my dad was in the hospital (he is fine and recovering) and one of the biggest plot threads in the book is Noah and his relationship with his dying father Lamech.

I give Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle three out of five cute mini mammoths.

Also small announcement and explanation for things; I will participate in Write a Novel in November this year, so this blog post was partially for me to see if I can write 1667 words in a day. It is something I’ve considered participating in and I hope I can pull it off. This review was 1293 words long meaning I clearly have some improving to do, but book reviews and amount of words written in a day are two very different things. Wish me luck, my theme for this novel will be…mermaids.

Six of Crows Review

Things will be a little different for this review; for the first time I have listened to a story rather than reading it. In an effort to try to read all of Six of Crows before my friend and I could go to Texas Teen Book Festival I purchased the audiobook of Six of Crows. I must say it was an interesting experience.

At first I had thought I could listen to the book while doing schoolwork, but I realized that was not the case with how my mind works in terms of concentration and stories. I did find that listening to the book while cleaning, walking, and waiting was a more enjoyable experience rather than listening and doing work.

The act of listening to a story was a little hard to get use to, especially considering how thick the book is, I actually appreciated that multiple narrators were used for the story rather than relying on one narrator, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of them had background as voice actors in anime at some points. I will admit it was a little more difficult to retain what I listened to and felt things came along far more easily halfway through the story when I started reading the hardcopy book while listening to the story.

Now for the Actual Book Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect when my friend lent me her copy of Six of Crows, all I recall is that she asked me to take a photo of it alongside some lgbt books I had. At the time I took the photo my head was in a whirlwind of life concerns and a week later I wondered what was in the book that it had to have a photo taken alongside my lgbt books.

I was very pleased with the story; I had never really read a heist type of story, especially one like this with nearly all the protagonists ready to kill with only a few of them with actual heroic qualities (Matthias, Inej, Nina) and our primary protagonist Kaz being far from a hero. There’s also Jesper a gambling addict and Wylin who is the only protagonist not to get his own point of view chapter.

There are many moments of cross and doublecross between the protagonists as they are all hired to kidnap a scientist behind a powerful drug that can turn gifted people known as Grisha into nearly unstoppable forces and become addicted to the drug known as parem. The book is a nice relief of uniqueness in the YA I’ve read recently with many high points and my particular favorite character being Nina the Grisha.

My only regret is not being in the best mood when I met the author Leigh Bardugo at the Texas Teen Book Festival as I got her to autograph the copy I purchased for a friend of mine. Unfortunately waiting in lines constantly brought out the worst in me and if you ever read this Leigh Bardugo, I really am sorry for my attitude and please forgive me for not being happy that you took the time to speak with your fans about your book and what they loved about it. Sam I am sorry for bitching half the time while waiting in line.

I give Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Six knives named after saints out of Six.

Star Wars Ahsoka Review

20161017_170720I haven’t kept it a secret that Ahsoka Tano is my favorite character from the Star Wars universe going from annoying token kid character inserted into Clone Wars to appeal to kids, to broken hero, to rebel alliance merger, and beyond. I was excited to discover that my favorite character would be getting her own YA novel this year and was ecstatic to discover I’d have the opportunity to meet the author at Texas Teen Book Festival earlier this month.

I made E.K. Johnston fangirl over a drawing I did of Ahsoka Tano that day and in a complete surprise of kindness she gave me a custom name tag and signed it to me for when I purchased my own copy of the Ahsoka YA book (we both went into bigger fan mode when she told me Ashley Eckstein would be joining her on tour with book signings for the Ahsoka book).

Spoilers from this point on, no I can’t Jedi Mind trick these out of your head.

Ahsoka takes place exactly one year after the events of Order 66 and Empire Day with Ahsoka laying low and trying to live her life as a civilian as opposed to a soldier or Jedi she once was. The aftershock from the betrayal of her friend Barriss Offee still close to Ahsoka’s heart despite Ahsoka participation in the the liberation of Mandalore (for more info on that click here).

The book focuses on Ahsoka’s attempts at helping people fight the empire while addressing her own mixed feelings about being a child soldier in the Clone Wars and having the knowledge that nearly all of her loved ones are dead.

Ahsoka spends a good portion of the book trying to put an end to the military mindset she had during the Clone Wars and trying to remember what was taught to her before the war started. I thought this was an interesting approach brought up in the book since it was a conversation Ahsoka and Barriss had in the early days of the war where Ahsoka wasn’t sure what her life would be like post war and Barriss was under the impression the Jedi would return to a life of peace and meditation.

The book also shows just how Ahsoka got her position as Fulcrum in the rebellion and where she got her white lightsabers. I won’t spoil where she found the kyber crystals and what led to their creation, but I feel it’s very fitting for this portion of Ahsoka’s character arc and life. I was also very pleased to see the topic of Barriss Offee addressed and that it didn’t take up the entire book. It was a topic that I had wondered about for a while and glad to see how Ahsoka recovered from it and became stronger because of the events that caused her to leave the Jedi order.

I think many fans of Ahsoka Tano and Star Wars will enjoy this book very much, E.K. Johnston did a great job of tying the bridge between the Clone Wars tv series and the current Star Wars Rebels series and did justice to such a beloved character.

I give Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston five white lightsabers out of five.

Thoughts on The Lunar Chronicles: Winter

WINTER IS HERE! And has been here since November, and yes it’s been two months since I finished winter, but once again higher education takes higher priority than this little blog I do.

Before I get to the spoilers let me say that I was heavily satisfied with the book, the pacing was very well done with an equal amount of screen time dedicated to each protagonist and chapters ending on deadly cliffhangers for each character making me frequently have mini heart attacks one of my favorite characters may die. Now then onto the spoilers.

Spoilers from this if you do not wish to be spoiled do not read beyond this bold text.

First, EVERYONE LIVES YAY! And although my horrible fear of Iko dying or something horrible happening to Cress, or any of the other main protagonists did not happen, this may be a flaw, but I will get to that later.

As I said earlier the pacing between each character was very well done this time, we even got new characters Winter and Jacin enough development to fully flesh out they were and what their motives are in this science fiction adaption of Snow White (also bonus points for making Scarlet the Ruby Red to Winter’s Snow White).

Winter would be a near Mary Sue character for being not only the perfection of beauty both body and soul, but being skilled in not only crafts, but also restoring a home (no really, she rebuilding a house for about two weeks), the thing that keeps her from being a Mary Sue though is the fact that she’s slowly going insane from not using her Lunar Gift and these arts and crafts she does keep her mind occupied thinly preserving her sanity. She’s also resourceful, a little insane in her war strategies, but resourceful. Jacin is a combination of Prince Charming and the Huntsman from the Snow White tale.

We also meet Wolf’s mother, as one would expect she lives long enough to meet Scarlet and dies violently and tragically as any other kind mother would in any other YA book.

As I said earlier each chapter ends with a dramatic cliffhanger for each character giving us the thought that literally any of our protagonists can die with Cress, Cinder, and Iko having the largest amount of cliffhangers that could have lead to their demise.

Unfortunately although I am happy everyone made it out alive (granted they are beaten down pretty bad physically by the end of the novel), that is the primary problem I have with Winter. There is a lot of build up that there will be sacrifices, loved ones will die, ships will be destroyed by death and killing and that there will indeed be consequences for the actions of Cinder and her friends would have to face that just doesn’t happen. Excluding the entire city of Lunar refugees and those killed during the lunar civil war we only have about six named protagonists die.

I give The Lunar Chronicles Winter four and a half lunar apple flavored candies out of five.

The Fault in Our Stars (yo, where you been?)

First, let me say that higher education has higher priorities than this little blog where I write about books and television shows I like. It has been a tough semester, but it’s over and I can enjoy my winter break. Now on with my little blog.

I reluctantly read The Fault in Our Stars, mainly because judging from the way the movie was advertised it seemed like one cheesy ass romance novel involving a girl with cancer as it’s main gimmick. Then again I managed to avoid all commercials for the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars because I was busy with school and family issues to watch normal tv. I bought it because a friend guilted me into it. I will admit, I like the constant snark between Hazel and Augustus so much more than any other romantic couple I’ve read ever!
I also thought a lot about someone I knew who had leukemia and passed away when I was nine. I’m not going too deep into that subject, but I wondered what kind of individual he would have grown into based on reading what Hazel, Augustus, and Isaac go through.
I like that John Green chose to make Hazel more of a fangirl rather than a girl who is ‘so damn educated, but pale and unusual to fit in or have a guy ever notice my plainness’. I mean Hazel still is plain, but she’s beyond being the Mary Sue of YA novels thanks to her snarky ways and fangirl tendencies toward her favorite book and unusual enjoyment of America’s Next Top Model (do they even show that anymore?).
I also like that John Green didn’t make Hazel and Augustus the typical ‘we believe in God, but we’re not religious’ couple and had them both as agnostics with Hazel leaning more towards atheism and Augustus acknowledging that there is a creator rather than the God of Abraham.
I will recommend it, but not because of how popular it is, but because of how good it is without all the hype surrounding it.

The Lunar Chronicles part 1-Cinder

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Here is the first official blog concerning my thoughts on books/entertainment. What better way to do this than with the Young Adult genre (nevermind that I’m in my mid twenties…) I discovered the book via the webshow Booze Your Own Adventure (formally 50 Shades of Green), at first I was reluctant to read along with our two lovely hostesses because the Spring Semester for classes had just started, but after a while I gave in.

Despite the size of the hardcopy book itself Cinder is a pretty fast read. The actual story is a retelling of Cinderella, with a twist to actually make the book readable. Cinder is a cyborg, the scum of society because society needs discrimination one way or another, she’s also a mechanic and earns the money for her household of the typical wicked stepmother and stepsisters, one stepsister nice and the other following in her mother’s footsteps.

For the first two thirds of the book the story loosely follows the usual Cinderella story, unlike the majority of Cinder’s counterparts the ball and Prince charming/Prince Kai aren’t the highest priorities for her. Her highest priority is her own freedom from her stepmother and the health of her stepsister Poeme who has been infected with a deadly virus that Cinder is immune to.

At this point I will warn that there will be spoilers, please do not read on if you hate them or intend on reading the books.

One of the different things between Cinder and it’s Cinderella counterparts is that aside from being set in the future is that there is political friction between the earth alliance and the moon government. Lunars are humans that have evolved to ‘glamor’ not only themselves, but the naked eye of regular people. The moon queen desires to rule both the moon and the earth by any means necessary. She desires to pull this off by marrying prince Kai and killing him and the only person who can stop her is the long lost moon princess.

Does this story sound familiar to you? Well if you grew up in the nineties it should because it’s the plot for the first arc of Sailor Moon, and just like the first arc of Sailor Moon it’s pretty obvious who the moon princess is if you’re older than the target age group. In fact that’s the only flaw I could find in Cinder was that it was predictable. Not in a bad way like most ‘Twilight clones’ are where ‘muggle meets X and has their world turned upside down and discovers an amazing life’. But predictable in sense that you know that Cinder is the moon princess, the emperor of China will die, Kai will have to take over and the Lunar queen is evil for the hell of it. It’s also predictable who will die and that Cinder has to go to the ball.

There are a few flaws in the story aside from the predictability. Mainly my questions of why are the Lunar’s so evil? What happened that there is harsh feelings between the earth alliance and the moon kingdom? Why is the royal family of the moon kingdom so blood thirsty? How did Lunar’s gain the ability to glamor? (sorry Marissa Meyer, evolution doesn’t work like that).

The Pro’s outweigh the cons though. Do you wonder why this story sounds alot like Sailor Moon? Well here’s the reason, Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles is a Sailor Moon fan and wrote Sailor Moon fanfiction. And unlike most people these days who wrote fanfiction and eventually got their work published (some of them partially cheating and self publishing (THAT MEANS YOU E.L. JAMES!)) Meyer produced very GOOD fanfiction. She took two stories, one known to nearly every person around the world and the other known to all who watch anime and read manga and she created her own original story out of it.

If you want a fast read, then please pick up Cinder! You will enjoy it greatly! I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars 🙂