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Guest Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Series: N/A

Genre: Adult Fiction w/ YA Appeal

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Overview: It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.  -Goodreads

The Guest Review
by Petrik

Ready Player One is a Fiction/YA/Dystopian hybrid that takes place in the year 2044 where our world is suffering from global energy crisis and everyone needs a means to escape from this harsh truth. This is where OASIS, a genius MMORPG utopia created by James Halliday arrived as the solution to their need for escapism. I’d be lying to myself if I said this book isn’t something that’s written for me. The whole concept and tributes featured in this book are exactly my thoughts and hobbies of the past, some of which still persist to this day.

The plot of RPO itself is actually really simple. Before his death, Halliday leaves a will that stated, if anyone is able to solve the puzzle he hid in OASIS, that person will receive all his wealth and power. This is literally the plot and where the story began for our main character, Wade, who has devoted his life into this treasure hunt.

“You’d be amazed how much research you can get done when you have no life whatsoever.”

Honestly, I have two main problems with the book:

1. First, almost all problems that appeared in the book were… how do I say this? Too convenient for Wade. It’s like he’s some Gary Stu who can do literally everything that relates with not only OASIS but every software and hacking, out of nowhere.

2. The excessive details hurt the pacing a lot of times. When the plot really starts, I couldn’t put down the book but most of the time, there was way too much unnecessary repetition to the details. This made the book as something that was more written for a movie adaptation (there will be one coming in 2018 and it’s directed by Steven Spielberg so I’m hopeful for it).

Despite these problems, I still enjoy reading RPO very much and it’s because the main strength of the book lies not within its plot or characters but within the concepts and tributes to every single popular entertainment media in the 80’s and 90’s. The whole concept and world building of the book is something that resonates with me so much even though the concept itself is not actually original. If you’ve been following anime and video games like me, you’ll probably know about this franchise called “.hack'”(2002) or this popular anime called “Sword Art Online” (2012) and they’re pretty much the exact same thing as what OASIS is about. Even the way to access it via a VR consoles is the exact copy, the only differences is that .hack and SAO have more dangerous real life repercussion in playing the game. However, it’s the tributes and crossovers with every single popular media in the 80’s and 90’s that made RPO a unique experience to read.

Every single elements in RPO revolves around those tributes, this book is pretty much a utopia for geeks and nerds (don’t take this as offensive, I think geeks and nerds are awesome). Video games, anime, movies, music, movies, cultures that were popular in the 80’s and 90’s were featured here and I mean every popular one from western and eastern culture.

Look at this picture for example:

[borrowed from http://orig02.deviantart.net/4941/f/2… (click link for full resolution)]

This is from a scene in the book and trust me, I can tell you the name of every single thing in this picture and their stories cause I watched and played all of them growing up. Mobile Suit RX-78 Gundam, Macross, Leopardon, Kurosawa from Cowboy Bebop, the list goes on and on. This picture featured only a tiny fraction of what medias were featured in the book, there are still so much more for you to find out for yourself if you decide to read it (or watch it next year when the movie come out). With the book revolving around this concept and world building, it made reading it a really fun experience and a palate cleanser from my usual “Adult Epic Fantasy” read, don’t get me wrong, it’s my favorite genre but we all need a break sometimes.

What made the book even better for me however is the theme that was explored, escapism.

“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.”

This quote is in the book but I’m not kidding, I actually said this quote word by word back when I was in middle school (around 15 years ago). RPO provides a solution to a harsh reality and now, imagine if this solution really exists in our world and by that, I mean something as huge as OASIS. I’m almost quite sure that a lot of people, including me, would be playing that game like we’re obsessed. Mute people can speak in the game, anyone disabled can function perfectly, weak person can be strong, an introvert can be outgoing, the list goes on but most of all, you can actually make a living out of playing the game. Who wouldn’t want that?

I’ve been playing video games since I was 5 years old. Name every popular actions, FPS and RPG from Playstation 1 era until this year, I can guarantee you I’ve played almost all of them. Final Fantasy series, Suikoden, Metal Gear Solid, Wild Arms, Dark Souls, The Legend of Dragoon, Devil May Cry, Pokemon, etc or even anime, TV series and manga that I won’t mention here, the list is way too long. The point is, other than mandatory school and colleges, I spent most of my time escaping from reality with these entertainment.

Guess which one I sacrificed? Good grades. It’s not bad, I rarely study but I passed every subject with average results. Do I regret it? No, the thing is, my form of escapism shaped who I am today. In my opinion, gaming and reading is one of the best forms of entertainment to increase your sense of empathy since you experienced thousands of different lives from different worlds and circumstances. However, these hobbies do cause loneliness if you do them excessively and this, in my opinion is what the book tried to convey. Too much of anything is never good for you, even if it’s something you love.

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”

I faced major loneliness last year when I played video games way too much, it almost ruined my life. Gaming can be a really lonely hobby, especially once you finished a game and try to talk about it with someone. The community is too cancerous and childish, where you can’t state an opinion without getting any of them riled up. What I meant is something really simple, for example “hey, I think this is the best game I ever played” and the reply you’ll get will be something like “your gaming taste is shit.” I figured, I can’t spend my life on this too much anymore. Don’t believe me? Search on Youtube any new released games such as “Legend of Zelda” or “Horizon Zero Dawn,” look at the comment section and you’ll see more comments bashing Xbox community more than praising the game itself.

It’s one of the reason I tried reading again, starting with Mistborn back in September 2016 and oh boy my addiction to gaming decreased by a LOT. I’m much happier now since I started taking reading seriously. The main reason is this, I have people to share my experience with, in the forms of reviews or discussions. In the end true happiness lies in our world. Balance your life, to quote the Beatles, “all you need is love”, every wealth you have, every hobbies amounts to nothing if you don’t have someone to share it with and that, is what I think the book tried to convey the most to us. Everything must be in balance, besides, let’s face it, without our mundane reality, we won’t enjoy reading or playing video games that much anyway.

Overall, I had some problems with RPO but despite them, I really enjoyed reading it and I find the concept and the theme of the book something that’s really important and resonates with me. It induced a lot of nostalgia factors and again, a really great standalone and palate cleanser. Right now it’s one of the best of its kind I’ve ever read.


I’d like to welcome Petrik to The Obsessive Bookseller as an occasional guest reviewer! He’s responsible for some of my favorite book review over on Goodreads, so I’m thrilled he decided to share some thoughts here. His reviews are always awesome assessments with a very relatable personal touch. Aside from a couple of outliers, we tend to rate titles very similarly. I’ve always enjoyed his reviews, and I hope you will too. :)

Petrik has been a gamer and reader since he was five years old. Not once did he think back then that his two passions would last a lifetime. His favorite genres are Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Grimdark, and Science Fiction.

You can follow his reviews on Goodreads here.

 

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Escape Reality Book Club: November 2014’s Nominations!

Escape reality book club

Hosted by The Obsessive Bookseller and Apathy and Rhetoric

The Escape Reality Book Club is monthly feature where members take turns nominating the Young Adult titles they most want to read…Or rather, it used to be. You see, the book club has been undergoing a bit of the reconstruction (hence the lateness). The general feedback has been, while we all love and appreciate YA, many of us are getting tired of reading them exclusively. Because of that, I’ve decided that going forward nominations from any fiction genre will be allowed. As I’m particularly partial to speculative fiction, this change makes me nervous, but luckily most of our members seem to have similar tastes. Anyway, back to what the book club is all about:

We started it because we love geeking out about books, and knew a lot of other people who liked to too. This is a very low-pressure book club where anybody is invited to join. All you have to do is click here to be directed to our official Facebook page and asked to join the group. We host meetings here in Southern Utah, but all of you out-of-towners are invited to participate in a facebook book club meeting (which consists of a Q&A and hopefully some discussion). Although, due to some very lonely meetings, these are now by request only… I talk to myself about books too much as it is. ;).

 Behold! The Nominations (Via Kierra):

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Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter

In a time and place not too far away, Mia Snow is an alien huntress for the New Chicago Police Department. Heading up her expert team of Alien Investigation and Removal agents, Mia’s unmatched at battling the elusive enemy among us, and she’s the perfect girl for the job. She’s seen her brother die at the hands of aliens. She’s earned each of her scars. And she’ll die before she cries. Now, a series of killings have Mia and her partner Dallas tracking alien suspects — but a sudden blast of violence leaves Dallas fighting for his life.

The chance to save Dallas appears in the form of a tall, erotic stranger. An alien. A murder suspect. Kyrin en Arr, of the deadly Arcadian species, holds the power to heal the injured agent but not without a price. For Mia Snow, that price is surrendering to Kyrin’s forbidden seduction…and embracing their electric attraction. She’s walking a knife’s edge, risking her badge and even her life. The closer she gets to Kyrin, the more Mia learns about her own heart, her human needs — and the shocking secret that will shatter everything she’s ever believed.

Hardwired by Meredith Wilde

Determined to overcome a difficult past, Erica Hathaway learns early on to make it on her own. Days after her college graduation, she finds herself face to face with a panel of investors who will make or break her fledgling startup. The only thing she didn’t prepare for was going weak in the knees over an arrogant and gorgeous investor who seems determined to derail her presentation.

Billionaire and rumored hacker Blake Landon has already made his fortune in software, and he’s used to getting what he wants. Captivated by Erica’s drive and unassuming beauty, he’s wanted nothing more than to possess her since she stepped into his boardroom. Determined to win her over, he breaks down her defenses and fights for her trust, even if it means sacrificing a level of control he’s grown accustomed to. But when Blake uncovers a dark secret from Erica’s past, he threatens not just her trust, but the life she’s fought so hard to create.

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her widowed father, Andrew, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiance, and her own search-and-rescue bloodhound, which she uses to find missing persons. But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can’t recall. And then a policeman knocks on her door, revealing a secret that changes the world as she knows it.” In shock and confusion, Delia must sift through the truth – even when it jeopardizes her life and the lives of those she loves. What happens when you learn you are not who you thought you were? When the people you’ve loved and trusted suddenly change before your eyes? When getting your deepest wish means giving up what you’ve always taken for granted? Vanishing Acts explores how life – as we know it – might not turn out the way we imagined; how doing the right thing could mean doing the wrong thing; how the memory we thought had vanished could return as a threat.

 Comfort of Lies by Randy Meyers

Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption. / Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother. / Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him. But when Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband from Tia that contains pictures of a child with a deep resemblance to her husband, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. / And before long, the three women and Nathan are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted. Riveting and arresting, The Comfort of Lies explores the collateral damage of infidelity and the dark, private struggles many of us experience but rarely reveal.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex, especially when she compares herself to her slim, brilliant, picture-perfect family. But that’s before a shocking phone call — and a horrifying allegation — about her rugby-star brother changes everything. With irreverent humor and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine who speaks to every teen who struggles with family expectations, and proves that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.

Which book would you like to read?

Voting is closed – check back in January for more fun!

by Niki Hawkes

Book Releases: 12/10 – 12/14

I don’t know what possessed me to create a new releases feature during the slowest time of year. December is the month where publishers focus all their resources on meeting the incredibly high demand of holiday shoppers. Understandably so, as book retailers make a huge chunk of their yearly income within this short season.

In any case, I did manage to find a few noteworthy titles out this week. Enjoy!

bonesTitle: The Bones of the Old Ones

Author: Howard Andrew Jones

Series: Desert of Souls #2

Overview: As a snowfall blankets 8th century Mosul, a Persian noblewoman arrives at the home of the scholar Dabir and his friend the swordsman Captain Asim. Najya has escaped from a dangerous cabal that has ensorcelled her to track down ancient magical tools of tremendous power, the bones of the old ones. To stop the cabal and save Najya, Dabir and Asim venture into the worst winter in human memory, hunted by a shape-changing assassin. The stalwart Asim is drawn irresistibly toward the beautiful Persian even as Dabir realizes she may be far more dangerous a threat than anyone who pursues them, for her enchantment worsens with the winter. As their opposition grows, Dabir and Asim have no choice but to ally with their deadliest enemy, the treacherous Greek necromancer, Lydia. But even if they can trust one another long enough to escape their foes, it may be too late for Najya, whose soul is bound up with a vengeful spirit intent on sheathing the world in ice for a thousand years…

2Title: Two Graves

Authors: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Series: Special Agent Pendergast #12

Overview: For twelve years, he believed she died in an accident. Then, he was told she’d been murdered. Now, FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast discovers that his beloved wife Helen is alive. But their reunion is cut short when Helen is brazenly abducted before his eyes. And Pendergast is forced to embark on a furious cross-country chase to rescue her. But all this turns out to be mere prologue to a far larger plot: one that unleashes a chillingly-almost supernaturally-adept serial killer on New York City. And Helen has one more surprise in store for Pendergast: a piece of their shared past that makes him the one man most suited to hunting down the killer. His pursuit of the murderer will take Pendergast deep into the trackless forests of South America, to a hidden place where the evil that has blighted both his and Helen’s lives lies in wait . . . a place where he will learn all too well the truth of the ancient proverb: Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.\.

2.1Title: Opal
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Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
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Series: Lux #3
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Overview: No one is like Daemon Black. When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well… There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on. But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love. After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different… And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever. Together we’re stronger… and they know it.

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22Title: Falling Kingdoms
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Author: Morgan Rhodes
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Series: Falling Kingdoms #1
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Overview: In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined. The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
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23Title: Princess of the Silver Woods
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Author: Jessica Day George
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Series: Twelve Dancing Princesses #3
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Overview: When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor’s twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it’s not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.
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24Title: Foretold
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Author: Jana Oliver
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Series: Demon Trappers #4
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Overview: In the fourth Demon Trappers novel, Riley faces the final battle for humanity and Beck’s heart—and Hell is the least of her problems. Now that Riley’s managed to (just barely) fend off Armageddon, everything’s changed. Well . . . most things. After their passionate kiss before the big battle in the cemetery, Beck is back to treating her like a little girl, as if nothing ever happened. While she’d love to just tell him off and move on, Riley vowed to take care of Beck the way he’s taken care of her since her father’s death—but she’s about to get a whole lot more than she bargained for. When she’s commissioned to go with Beck to his hometown and help him care for his dying mother, they stumble too close to a dark and murderous secret, one that Beck fears will drive Riley away from him forever. As chaos breaks loose, Riley may be Beck’s only hope for redemption . . . and survival. Meanwhile, up in Atlanta, it’s quickly becoming clear that Heaven may have won a battle, but the war is far from over. Riley and Beck face a stormy future, as Lucifer’s ex-right-hand-man, Sartael, proves himself to be more resilient than anyone thought. He has Atlanta in his grip and is about to begin a brutal war with the prince of Hell. As the seconds tick down toward a final confrontation, it’s up to Riley and the man she loves to finally defeat their old enemy, or lose everything they’ve fought for.