Category Archives: bookreview

Book Love: Ready Player One

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A science fiction classic in the making, Ready Player One immediately grabbed my attention by being completely plausible. “I could totally see this happening,” I thought to myself during the first chapter. Cline seemed to effortlessly cast a protagonist who anyone would feel compelled to root for while simultaneously casting his counter-part to be The Corporation and Big Business we all fear will take over our meager existences and cause worldwide unhappiness by diminishing our personal rights and freedoms. Basically, my jaw dropped early in the prologue and continued to hang open for the remainder of the novel. I respect any author who can set up a plot and create an entire dystopia so successfully during a time in literature where imperfect dystopian worlds run rampant and are often not thought out enough. Ready Player One embodies many modern themes that plague the human race, however I won’t mention them all as to avoid spoilers. Similar to previous dystopian novels, Cline perfectly tackles the world’s current problems through his words; we of the world are destroying its energy while constantly seeking refuge in our own realities rather than living in the world itself. This notion along with the countless 80s references and relatable geeky characters littered throughout Ready Player One have boosted it to my high score table of Best Books Ever.

The novel follows protagonist Wade Watts (a.k.a. Parzival) throughout Cline’s virtual reality game of the OASIS, which is what all of us video gamers dream of coming true. Despite the limitless possibilities and worlds within the OASIS, it sheds both a positive and negative light on reality. Because our future selves have destroyed many of the earth’s resources, many have decided to use the OASIS as an escape from the tragedy and brokenness of society. For kids like Wade, who are poor and have no real family, the OASIS gives them an identity they can shape for themselves, which I believe is an excellent concept.

The creator of the OASIS, Halliday, was born in the 80s and amassed an unreasonable amount of money from the profits of it, even though there was no fee for joining the OASIS community. He died with no friends or family, so in his will, he created a giant Easter egg hunt full of riddles and 80s trivia. So, although Cline’s world is set in the 2040s, there are 80s references everywhere, giving the story plenty of relatable nostalgia. The unpaid “professionals” who spend all of their time online hunting for these eggs are known as Gunters, and Wade, who has no money to do anything else, has spent the last 5 years gathering knowledge for the hunt while playing through 80s video games. Several years after Halliday’s death and still no one has been able to crack the only riddle he left behind. This is where we put on our own haptic suits and insert ourselves into Cline’s dystopian world to watch the plot unfold.

I am anxious to see the movie and read the sequel when they are completed. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone. Everyone has something to gain from reading it, and this is especially true for anyone remotely geeky over the age of 25. 5/5 stars.

Ernest Cline also just announced that pre-ordering is available for his new book, Armada, which I expect to be just as amazing as Ready Player One. It is available for pre-order here: Amazon

Joe and I will be filming an in-depth video discussion of this book very soon, which will contain spoilers.

Goodreads rating: 4.33
Recommended for: 80s kids, Video Game Lovers, Everyone

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The Iron Trial Review

The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My thoughts before opening this book: “Yes, I have reservations about this book “ripping” off of Harry Potter, however, there were plenty of books about magic that came out before the HP series. J.K. Rowling was not the first to write about worlds involving magic, and she will not be the last.”

After finishing the book, which only took me a couple days, I’ve been really wondering how I want to write a review of it and what points I would hit on. It would be easy to touch on the many parallels it had to the HP series, but that’ s been done and will continue to be done. Also, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. It was most definitely written for the same audience, and it will continue to be compared and most likely viewed in a negative light. That being said, I think there will be several people out there who will disagree with the following statement: It was a good book. Let me add to that: Despite the ever-so-obvious parallels to HP, it was good book, nonetheless.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain. Kids who like to read about fantasy worlds often read books in the same genre. Some of these include Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Eragon series, and His Dark Materials series, among many others. Each of these books has similarities that cannot be ignored, which doesn’t have to be viewed as a negative characteristic. The Iron Trial is no different, however, I did think there were too many similarities between it and HP. Had I been the author of this charming, quickly paced book, I would have made sure that I either thanked J.K. Rowling for the wonderful inspiration or changed the obvious parallels so the bloggers and HP fans in the world wouldn’t constantly call me out for copying. I use “copying” lightly because The Iron Trial is NOT a carbon copy of HP, and I don’t want anyone walking away believing so.

This novel, told in collaboration by the esteemed Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, had some major plot differences that are worth noting. It was also not nearly as predictable as HP, which I can appreciate (even though HP is absolutely my favorite series of all time).

I would recommend this book to fans of the HP series because:
1. You need to read it and see the differences and parallels for yourself in order to make your own judgments.
2. It puts us older fantasy fans back into a child-like mindset and reminds us why we adored the genre so long ago.

For anyone who is still living in a cave and not familiar with the Harry Potter series, you actually have the advantage here and should go ahead and read The Iron Trial with no reservations. Following your completion of this first book, you should pick up Harry Potter and open your eyes. I do plan on reading the next book in the series in hopes that the plot continues to surprise me. My rating currently sits at a 3.5/5 (in my mind since Goodreads won’t give us half stars), but much of that rating is due to the fact that I thought there were many things left unexplained. As for reading a book that will be deemed by others to be an HP “knock-off”, I have no regrets. If you would go into this book with the mindset that it is HP fan-fiction, then you will probably love it.

I would love to discuss this book further, so feel free to comment and share.

Goodreads rating: 3.88
Recommended for: Harry Potter fans, Cassandra Clare fans, Middle Schoolers

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Book Love: The Running Dream

The Running DreamThe Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The overwhelming amount of love I have for this novel is making it difficult for me to write an accurate review of it. For me, someone who has been a runner through and through for more than half of my life, this was much more than just a book. I am by no means a realistic fiction reader, but sometimes I make an exception. Not only would I normally avoid a book about running due to the fact that most authors can’t relate their plot to what it’s really like, but I would normally stay far away from anything having to do with illness, amputated limbs, or any of life’s other physical woes. Despite all of this, I picked up The Running Dream. The Running Dream is about Jessica, a 400 meter runner in high school, whose track team suffers a collision on the way home from a meet. She loses part of her leg, and since her greatest passion and focus is on running, she’s devastated. Even though I knew that would happen based on the summary on the back of the book, it still hurt me to read it on those first few pages. The rest of the novel is Jessica’s journey back to the track, which is told in a really unique and profound way. So, here’s what Wendelin Van Draanen got right about running: You can’t keep a real runner away from it. Running is so much more than a sport, and most of the time, runners are competing against themselves. In this sense especially, the characterization was spot on. Sadly, this is a fact that many other writers ignore. This novel got it right in so many ways and is an exceptionally quick read with short chapters that make you want to keep on flipping. If you are a runner, you need to read The Running Dream because it is relatable, inspirational, hopeful, truthful, and loyal to the spirit of running. If you’re not a runner, you should read The Running Dream because it is heartwarming, thought-provoking, and encapsulating of so many YA themes. It deals with friendships, family relationships, and school struggles in the most realistic way. It teaches perseverance, identity, courage, and faith among other things. Whether you are an avid reader or one who is normally reluctant, you must give this book a chance.

Goodreads rating: 4.30
Recommended for: Athletes, Realistic Fiction Fans, Reluctant Readers

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