Have you ever read a book that was so good, you were sure you’d have no trouble remembering the title or author? Weeks later you want another book by that author; it turns out that the jumble of words you’re able to recollect don’t add up to anything that’ll retrieve the book.
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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is set in the year 2044 when technology has reached a peak and people don’t interact much in the real world anymore. Instead, they interact in the OASIS, a virtual reality utopia where you can be whoever and whatever you want. Created by wealthy programmer James Halliday, the OASIS has become the real world to many people, since the actual real world is in shambles following the great energy crisis. After Halliday’s death, a video will is released with a challenge: whoever can find the hidden “Easter egg” that Halliday left in the OASIS will inherit his company and his entire fortune. The hunt quickly becomes an obsession for the whole world, including teenager Wade Watts. Wade has lived in a trailer with his drugged-out aunt ever since the death of his parents and has studied Halliday’s life relentlessly in hopes of figuring out the clues Halliday left behind in order to find the Easter egg and create a better life for himself.
If you like advenuture and quest stories, Ready Player One is a really fun and unique one, since it basically all takes place inside a video game. It’s especially fun if you have fond memories of the pop culture of the 1980s. Halliday was obsessed with ’80s pop culture and included a lot of it in his clues, so all the best movies and video games of the decade are very well represented. It’s also really fun as a fan of “geeky stuff” to hear pretty much all of your favorite things referenced (I couldn’t help but get excited that Wade’s OASIS character was riding around in a Firefly-class spaceship).
The book also has a lot of suspenseful moments as Wade tries to become the one to find the Easter egg. One of the biggest corporations in the world, called IOI, has entered the quest for the egg in an effort to gain ownership of the OASIS and start charging for use of it. Wade and his friends (including love interest Art3mis and his mysterious best friend Aech, neither of whom Wade has ever met in person) are racing to beat IOI to the Easter egg in order to preserve the OASIS that they have known and loved for so long. Overall, Ready Player One is an inspiring story about the little guy trying to overtake Goliath and make a better life for himself and the people around him. It’s very affirming for fans of “geek culture”, and it teaches that being yourself and having a little perseverence can get you pretty far. And of course, it’s a really fun story that I would highly recommend.
I had long been attracted to the fun and stylish covers of Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, and finally decided to give them a try when the Davenport Public Library’s new Youth Services Librarian, Liza Gilbert, told me they were some of her all-time favorite books. There was just one thing I needed to know before I curled up with the mystery series: how oh how do I pronounce the heroine’s first name?! A quick search online and I learned that “Phryne, rhymes with Briney” which is now stored safely in the corner of my brain right next to “Rowling, rhymes with Bowling.”
Phryne Fisher is the classic 1920′s saucy heroine; she has style, confidence, cleverness and unlimited funds to do with as she pleases, and apparently what she pleases to do is fly planes, outwit lovers, and investigate crimes. In Cocaine Blues, the first in her series, Phryne arrives in Melbourne, Australia to check on the condition of an English aristocrat’s daughter who had been writing worrisome letters home to her parents. Although she assumed her Melbourne visit would mostly involve watching a neglectful husband and testing the girl’s food for poison, Phryne quickly finds herself searching out heavyweight cocaine dealers and criminal abortionists (who are assaulting their patients and depositing them in taxicabs to die).
Despite the gritty, heavy subjects of these investigations, Miss Fisher still manages to wear fabulous gowns, make snarky conversation and have a sexy romp or two. Hurrah! My absolute favorite part about Kerry Greenwood’s writing was the fascinating setting of the growing city of Melbourne, Australia during the 1920′s. Since most of my favorite Twenties novels seem to take place in New York, Chicago or London, it hadn’t even occurred to me that other exciting locales were also having a roaring good time. I highly recommend the Phryne Fisher series to those readers who can’t get enough of bobbed haircuts, silk stockings and smart female characters.