Category Archives: audiobook

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready-player-one As a child of the 80s (having been born in 1979), this book felt so much like coming home.  All of the references to 80s pop culture, especially geek culture, were just so spot-on!  I was not an arcade kid, since we didn’t have an arcade close enough to my house, but I definitely played more than my fair share of video games on personal gaming consoles like the Atari 2600 and NES.  I also have fond memories of playing puzzle and sim games on the Commodore 64 and Mac Classic in “computer class” at school.  I also watched waaaaaay too much TV and too many movies, so most of Cline’s references felt like a conversation with an old friend.  It’s beyond obvious that Ernest Cline was a fellow geek and that he loved all the cheeseball 80s stuff just as much as my friends and I did.  For real…  If you are a fanboy/fangirl of geeky 80s pop culture, you NEED to read this book!

Even better than the reminiscing, though, was the foreshadowing of what could come to be if we (citizens of the world) don’t change our reliance on fossil fuels and unplug a little from the world of “social media” to actually interact with the people and the world around us — in real life!  Imagine, if you will, a future in which most people around the world are so immersed in a virtual reality “utopia” known as the OASIS that they rarely leave their houses.  Since most people no longer have their own vehicles or even the financial means to utilize public transportation, the OASIS was the closest thing they would ever get to traveling.  Kids even started to attend school in the OASIS because the virtual world created it’s own schools to let pressure off of the failing public school system.  When I read one quote, I wondered if Cline was really just that attuned to the forthcoming changes in our society back in 2011 or if he somehow traveled through time to 2016 before he finished his story — “Now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists.”

One of the creators of the OASIS, James Halliday, had very few friends and never married or had any children.  By the time of his death, he had even been estranged from his former business partner and one-time best friend for about a decade.  So, before he died, he crafted an elaborate “Easter Egg” hunt within his virtual world to determine who would receive his fortune.  Halliday’s last will and testament was announced to the world with a video chock-full of 80s references and explained that his heir would need to use their knowledge of Halliday’s favorite things to puzzle out the location of three keys and three gates/trials he had programmed into the OASIS.  Everyone went nuts at first, but excitement waned after the first five years and only hardcore Gunters (a condensation of “egg hunters”) like Wade kept up the hunt.  When Wade finds the first key and his name shows up on the leader board, though, the OASIS is suddenly hopping again and the competition stirs up adventure, danger, and even romance. I can’t wait to see how the movie of this book turns out…

Happy Reading!

 

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

stars-aboveA while back, I decided to stop posting about the subsequent books in the various series I’m reading.  This was for a variety of reasons, but the two most important reasons were because (1) it was just too tough to keep up with all of the series I am interested in finishing and (2) I wanted to provide more variety for my blog readers. Well… I am going to have to break that rule today because I just have to tell y’all about Stars Above!

First of all, I think it’s important to note that some of this story takes place before Cinder, and some of it takes place after Winter.  If you haven’t yet read the other books in the Lunar Chronicles yet, do yourself a favor and GO READ THEM FIRST!  😉

I really enjoyed the opportunity to look at the stories we’ve already read through the eyes of different characters (like when Kai first meets Cinder, as told through his perspective), and the fact that readers have a chance to get a little more background on characters like Michelle Benoit and Carswell Thorne.  But I think my favorite story in the collection was “The Little Android,” which was a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”  Meyer’s unique adaptation of fairytale characters (Cinder from Cinderella, Scarlet from Little Red Riding Hood, Winter from Snow White, and Cress from Rapunzel) is one of the things I love the most about this series, so I was glad to get a “bonus” tale in this collection of stories.  It’s hard to believe I waited almost a full year after it was published to actually get around to reading it, but I guess that is what happens when your TBR pile is out of control…  😉

Happy Reading!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

the-rest-of-us-just-live-hereIf you’re a Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) fangirl like me, you will probably agree that Patrick Ness must be a huge BtVS fan too…  I mean.  You can’t help but get a Sunnyview/Hellmouth vibe from everything going down in Mikey’s small town!  (I can’t seem to recall where, exactly, it was other than some hick town in Washington state…  Did he ever mention the name of the town?  Anyway…)  I don’t make this comparison to BtVS lightly, by the way, because there are just so many parallels.  Between all the supernatural creatures that randomly show up and attack the teenagers in their town, the fact that the adults seem to be in complete denial of what has been and is currently going on, and the fact that the story is a tongue-in-cheek offshoot of the classic “chosen one” theme, I can’t imagine a BtVS fan who would be disappointed in this story.  Mikey even reminds me of my favorite BtVS characvter, Xander, who once said, “They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me.”

That being said, I don’t want people to think I’m saying this was just a BtVS ripoff, either.  The characters in this story are most definitely unique, as is the plot of the story.  I enjoyed the fact that the supernatural elements of the story were almost periphery to the main plot.  I honestly think that the interpersonal relationships, dysfunctional families, and personal struggles of the characters could have kept this story afloat even without the battles between the chosen ones (who all seemed to be “indie kids”) and the supernatural creatures like vampires, werewolves, and the Immortals.  It was rather ambitious of Ness to merge teen angst and tough issues with a lighthearted, satirical supernatural story — but it worked very well.

Happy Reading!

The 100 [series] by Kass Morgan

the-100To be very honest, I originally read the first book in this series when it was published back in 2013 and somehow forgot to review it back then.  (I  seriously checked and  couldn’t believe it wasn’t on here yet!)  I really liked it and thought that it was an interesting concept, but I didn’t really realize that the series had become a whole *thing* until I was recently talking to some people who mentioned the CW television series.  I am one of those weirdos who doesn’t really watch TV — I know, it’s hard for most people to comprehend — so I didn’t even know the television series existed until after they had started airing the 4th season!  Yeah…  That whole “not working with teens in the public library anymore” thing probably played a large role in my oblivious nature as well, but I digress.  I decided that I was going to “binge listen” to the audiobooks and, as it turns out, my lack of knowledge about the continuation of the series has paid off nicely.  Instead of waiting a year or more after one book ends, I can literally head on over to OverDrive and download the next audiobook from my local public library  as soon as I am ready (as long as it is checked in — and I was extremely lucky in this instance).

So, who were The 100?  They were 100 juvenile delinquents who were scheduled to be executed on their 18th birthdays but, instead, were allowed to be guinea pigs for re-settlement of Earth.  Why did they leave Earth in the first place?  Well, *they* didn’t.  But about 300 years prior, when a “cataclysm” (i.e. nuclear war) left Earth uninhabitable, a few hundred people were herded onto The Colony — a space station of interconnected ships that orbited the Earth — to keep the human race from dying out.  For centuries, people lived and died in The Colony and could only dream of a day when the radiation would wear off enough that it would be safe to live on Earth once again.  After it became clear that The Colony’s life-support systems would not last much longer, though, it was decided that The 100 could be sent to Earth as advance test subjects.  When I heard the premise of this book, all I could think was “futuristic Lord of the Flies” and I was sold.  If you enjoyed Across the Universe and/or These Broken Stars, you should definitely check out this series.

Happy Reading!

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

challenger-deepCaden Bosch was a really nice, really smart guy, but mental illness took quite a toll on his life and his relationships.  To readers, it was immediately evident that Caden had split from reality because he alternated between life in the “real world” and a journey on a pirate ship.  To his family and friends, though, it simply appeared that Caden was becoming more distant and acting strangely.  How so?  One perfect example is the fact that his family thought Caden was on the track team.  While he did, in fact, intend to go out for the track team, he ended up quitting after only a few practices.  So, why did they think he was still on the team?  Because he would be gone for hours at a time and returned with worn shoes and sore feet.  Instead of attending track practices, though, he was walking around town for hours on end, utterly absorbed by his own thoughts.  Aside from the walking, Caden’s mental break was also evident in his art work.  As a gifted artist, he began to struggle with the fact that he could no longer create artwork simply because he felt like it but, rather, because he felt that he HAD to get the images out of his head.  How awful that must have been!

This book was amazingly well-written.  Though confusing at times, the pacing and structure were very clearly intentional.  And by the end, it was also clear that the “real world” had inspired the delusions Caden experienced.  As someone who has had plenty of personal experiences with depression, anxiety, and obsessive thoughts, I still had no concept of what life might be like for someone living through the delusions and hallucinations associated with schizophrenia until I listened to this story.  One important clarification, by the way, is that although this story was inspired by the mental health challenges and experiences of Shusterman’s own son, Brendan, it was by no means intended to be a memoir.  Fans of Shusterman’s Unwind dystology (dystopian series) will be pleased to see that this departure from his standard writing style still contained plenty of humor and adventure.

Happy Reading!

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

the-compoundEli and his family have been living in the compound for 6 years now.  Even though his father had enough money to build and furnish a compound that is practically a luxury mansion, Eli is far from happy.  First of all, there is the fact that his twin brother, Eddy, and his grandmother never made it into the compound — and that he feels at least partly responsible for Eddy’s death.  Second, there are the problems with their food supply that make him wonder whether they will have enough food to get them through until the end of the 15 year containment.  Third, and most importantly, there is the fact that Eli isn’t sure if anyone else has even survived the nuclear war that prompted his father to lock them all inside the compound in the first place.  When Eli’s father suddenly starts to behave more erratically than normal, the rest of the family wonders how many secrets he has been keeping from them and exactly what it means about their future…

Mystery and adventure?  Check.  Dark family secrets?  Check.  If you are looking for a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, you will definitely want to check this one out!

Happy Reading!

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

furiously-happyAlthough Jenny Lawson is technically writes for “adults,” I think there are probably a great many teens who would benefit from reading this memoir.  Although some adults might cringe to think of teens reading or listening to Lawson’s cursing, I know that most teens probably wouldn’t be the least bit bothered.  I mean — I know, from experience, that many teens’ speech is peppered with “f-bombs” to the extent that they don’t even realize they are swearing… But, I digress.

As someone who personally struggles with OCD and depression, I think this book is very important for at least three reasons:

  1. People who live with depression and anxiety might find some solace in knowing they are not alone (and will likely experience a feeling of hope that their own lives can improve if they are feeling low);
  2. People who do not know what it is like to live with depression and anxiety can get a no-holds-barred look at the realities of living with mental illness…  you know, #EndTheStigma and all that; and
  3. Jenny Lawson is freaking hilarious and will help all readers recognize that even the most dire of situations can be improved with a little perspective and a lot of levity.

I often find myself wanting to share quotes and little snippets with my husband, but I find myself compelled to play so many parts of this audiobook aloud that he really just needs to listen to it himself.  Aside from the fact that I am sure he will find it absolutely hilarious, I think he will find solace in knowing that the author’s husband, Victor, has been dealing with someone just as crazy as me and seems to be doing just fine.  😉

Happy Reading!