Category Archives: science fiction
(I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All comments and thoughts are my own).
Aaru is one of those books that you think you understand but by the last page you realize you were wrong. There are two stories here but one is much deeper than the other.
Rose is a 16 year old who is dying of cancer. All the treatments have failed and she is being made comfortable for her last days. As a last ditch effort to save her, her parents sign Rose up for an experimental new system called Aaru.
Aaru is a computer system that copies and uploads a person’s brain and personality into a computer system. The person is able to live on digitally even though their body has died.
As Rose adjust to her new “life” her sister Koren is finding a way to live a new life of her own. She is made the spokesperson for the new technology but quickly learns what happens when you are forced into the spotlight at a young age. She is thrust into this role that begins to destroy who she is and puts her life and well-being in danger.
What I loved/enjoyed:
Aaru was a beautifully created world. I had no problem imaging this new place. It was vivid and alive. I felt like I was inside this computer program as they built it into a new home. I liked the system even though I didn’t quite understand why some aspects were chosen. Why there were Lords and Ladies or rankings didn’t quite get adequately explained but that didn’t keep me from sinking into this new world.
I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of what could be done and how things were made and changed. There was one scene in particular where Rose and her friends play a game of soccer that was exciting. I was enraptured by the game and how they used their new home and powers to make it more than just a simple and easy game of soccer.
I also liked the way life, personhood and afterlife were spoken about in this story. Is Rose still Rose without a functioning brain and body? Without the brain to create new pathways and links, can she evolve beyond who she was when she died? Who is she in this new setting?
Also if you become part of this place are you excluded from a traditional afterlife? Can you die again and move on to either Heaven or another place you believe in? What if your family is unable to join you? Is it worth staying in this place then? I liked asking these questions as we read because it put this new technology into a stark and real perspective.
Koren’s story was handled well. I can’t say I “liked” it, because of the way it went but I respected it and its part in the story. Her side of the tale explained how thrusting a child into a spotlight can do irreparable harm to them. Putting them on TV, or in magazines all dressed up can cause people to view them beyond their age. We saw how dangerous this concept can get. It was a good look at the dangers of child celebrity, even if it did disturb me into almost stopping reading at times.
What I was was okay with (didn’t love/hate):
I had some trouble with the way accents were written. They felt out of sorts, almost forced. There was only one character who was written with an accent while a number of them were supposed to be foreign. I found his speech difficult to follow at times and it threw me out of the story at times. I don’t know if his speech was needed to be written the way it was.
What I was wished was different:
My biggest issues in Aaru was with a handful of decisions that were made. Koren accepts the role as spokesperson without a minute of thought. Her parents never step in and demand a contract. There is no waiting period to think it over, she shakes hands and that is it.
Koren and her parents just trust a company they know next to nothing about. It was hard for me to believe they wouldn’t want details. Even beyond protecting their daughter’s well-being they don’t verify the money or the details of the deal. Her parents don’t even speak up during the exchange and decision process. There was also no later indication that they ever talked the contract over with a lawyer or verified everything that was as they were told it would be.
I also had an issue with the fact that there were cameras throughout the house. I can’t see anyone being okay with that idea right off the bat. Maybe it would have made more sense if there had been a discussion about it. Koren’s parents were intent on gaining the power and money that comes with being celebrities. I think I would have bought the idea more if there had been a scene where they were convinced to allow the cameras to be set up everywhere from the living room the the bedrooms.
Koren doesn’t even seem to know about the cameras. She states multiple times she doesn’t know how they got the footage. Shouldn’t she have at least known they were there? I don’t think it is even slightly legal to set up cameras without the owner’s knowledge and permission. I wanted more discussion about that fact.
I also would have liked more background on Rose and Koren’s parents. The story is about the girls but the parents felt flat. They were almost cliche’s. All her mother talks about it things “happening as they should” or “that is how things are in show business.” Her father falls into drinking, quickly. We have no foundation for them so watching them fall is hard to follow. I wanted to understand them better and why they allowed certain things to happen as they did.
This wasn’t something I hated but what I found hard to read. The way the Magic Man’s actions and desires were written were difficult to read. I understood why his storyline was there but I did almost stop reading because of his chapters. The first time he appeared I didn’t know where the story was going and I wasn’t sure I could continue. I did end up finishing and I understood his part but I would say that anyone reading the story should be made aware of the thoughts and actions that may be triggering to some people.
I gave Aaru 4 stars on Goodreads. It wasn’t the story I was expecting but it was well written and did tell a story with an important warning about the dangers of celebrity.
I picked up Vicious because it was by V.E. Schwab. She has quickly become one of my favorite authors of this year and I am working on getting through all her books. I have heard this one is one that is recommended for those who want to start reading her books. I didn’t know much about the story, other than it was a revenge plot. But I have been impressed by her other books, and the depth she brings to her characters, and this one did not disappoint me.
The story itself is pretty basic. Victor and Eli are college friends. They are working on their thesis’s and Eli decides to do his on EO’s or ExtraOrdinarys. ExtraOrdinarys are basically people who have super powers. The thesis becomes an experiment. The experiment goes wrong and Victor ends up in jail. After ten years he gets out and he is set on revenge against a man he used to call a friend.
If this story did not have strong characters I would have lost interest fast. The plot is not one full of twists or turns. There is nothing too innovative about the plot itself. The addition of the super powers makes it a bit more interesting but nothing too new. Victor blames Eli for what happened and Eli blames him. At the end of the day it is a story about simple revenge.
What makes it more complex and what held my attention was Victor and Eli. These two are complicated people. To start off they aren’t two people who are real close friends. They are tolerate friends in the beginning. They find a kinship in each other. Both of them are selfish. They both don’t trust others and they both don’t trust each other.
We learn quickly that while they get along they still hold each other at arms length. Victor resents Eli for getting a girl they both liked. Eli starts to resent that Victor became part of his experiment. They both state that they can tell there is something not quite right about the other one. They can see in each other the darkness that is in their hearts, but it doesn’t make them run.
Neither one of these men are “good” people. They both make some pretty bad decisions and they both hurt people. I think this is what made the story. I knew that because we primarily focused on Victor that we are supposed to be on his side. He is our primary narrator so we should want him to win, we should understand him. The thing was that even though I understood him, I didn’t actually like him.
Victor has a soft side, which is needed because otherwise there is no way we could relate or want to listen to him. But that soft side doesn’t last long term. He makes one good decision and then runs backwards ten feet. The man is set on his plan and in the end people will get hurt, he can’t stop that. He cares about Sydney and Mitch (his sidekicks) but he doesn’t care enough to turn away from what he wants.
Eli thinks he is doing what is right. I understood where Eli was coming from but I couldn’t sympathize with him. He comes off as delusional most of the story. I found it interesting that I didn’t hate him. Usually in these type of stories you take sides. You choose either the hero or the villain, usually the hero. But in this story there was no side to take.
Both men made choices to help themselves and only themselves. Both of them hated each other for a series of events that really both of them could be blamed for. I didn’t want Victor to “win” or for Eli to “lose.” I wanted them to find a way to see the darkness inside themselves and realize that what they were doing would do nothing for anyone, even themselves.
The end of the book was a bit of a let down. I expected a major confrontation between the two men. I expected them to go at each other, or to have a long talk; one that laid everything out and put who they were out there in the open for everyone to see. The book led up to that point and it took a handful of pages to complete. I predicted it from half way through the book. I wanted more from the ending. I wanted it to end with a bang and what I got was more a whimper.
I enjoyed this book. It is not my favorite by V.E. Schwab (that is still This Savage Song). I liked the characters and that neither were good people. I liked not knowing who I was supposed to like. I liked the way it was told by flipping between past and present, it made the story feel like it was always moving. I just wish the end had had more of an impact.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera was another book I saw a review for on Youtube. The premise intrigued me, someone having the ability to erase memories as a way to deal with a tough situation. The reviewer also mentioned it was an emotional read, and I was curious to see if that was true. It was true, this book was heartbreaking. I am not a person who gets emotional easily. It takes a lot in a book or movie to make me feel heartbroken, but this book managed just that.
Aaron is a sixteen-year-old whose life is not the greatest. His family is poor. At the beginning, you find out that his father has recently committed suicide. Aaron himself has also has had a suicide attempt.
There is one light in his life though, his girlfriend, Genevieve. They have a very cute relationship. They tease one another and have little rituals. She is what Aaron needs in order to be able to handle what is going on with his life at the moment. She makes him happy and he does love her.
For three weeks in the summer, Genevieve goes to an art camp, leaving Aaron by himself. While she is away Aaron meets a new friend, Thomas. They become close very quickly. Their growing closeness makes Aaron question his sexuality. He realizes that he is falling for Thomas. This creates a cascade of events that has a bigger twist that I won’t reveal here.
The events lead Aaron to consider a new technology at the Leteo Institute that can erase memories. Aaron has to decide whether he should get the procedure, whether it will help him at all. Does erasing your memories really change your life, or does it just cover up an issue you don’t want or know how to deal with?
The main of the idea this book revolves around the idea of what makes someone gay or straight. Does it have to do with memories? Is it a nature or nurture idea? Can you make someone straight by erasing their past actions and memories?
Now, I believe that being gay, straight or bi is not a choice. It is the way you are born. It is a part of you just like any other aspect of yourself. It is not something that can be changed. It can be ignored and covered up. But like when you dye your hair the roots always show through sooner or later. You can pretend as long as you want, convince yourself that you aren’t but at the end of the day it is a part of you.
This story took an interesting look at that idea. It presents you with a young man who is trying to navigate his world. He is lost. He has no one to go to talk about what he is feeling. There is no one with experience around him. He tries to navigate his new world but it becomes too overwhelming. He ultimately has to make a choice between erasing his memories and becoming “straight,” or not going through with the procedure and trying to find a way to make people understand who he is. As a teenager, this is a very overwhelming and confusing situation. He has support around him but not much knowledge.
I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading it, praying and hoping things were going to work out for him. I desperately wanted Aaron to end up happy and feel content with who he was. I wanted him to have a revelation about being gay and how it is not something to be ashamed of scared of. But this was no Happy Ever After book. As I stated before this whole thing broke my heart.
I just wanted to be the support system that Aaron needed. I wanted him to be able to get away from the negativity in his life, to find somewhere where he was accepted but that would have made the book too neat. Everything working out perfectly, all his friends accepting him and understanding would have been too easy. This was much more like real life. I think that if everything had worked out with a smile, I would have felt cheated and annoyed. This isn’t a situation that is fixed with a few words and a handshake or hug. It takes time and it is a process and Silvera portrayed that well.
If you like science-fiction with heart you will enjoy this book. Don’t expect a light uplifting read, though. Expect a story that goes deep into your heart and will stay there leaving a lasting effect on you.
I have been putting off reading this series for a long time. I kept hearing about it through blogs and Booktubers but it hadn’t been finished yet. I have read too many series with disappointing endings that I was afraid this would fit that bill. But then the last book came out and all I heard was positive reviews about the way the series ends. So, I finally picked up the first book and I had trouble putting it down.
Cinder (first int the series) is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg who lives in a future society. She can’t remember any of her life before the age of eleven when she was made into a cyborg. She lives with her harsh and cruel stepmother and two stepsisters. One stepsister is actually very nice and loving towards Cinder. While the other is just as mean and cruel as her stepmother.
Cinder is a well-known mechanic and one day the prince (soon to be emperor) Kai comes to her to fix one of his androids. This one meeting changes everything about Cinder’s life. She learns about her past and gets caught up in an intergalactic problem that involves the Lunars, the people who live on the moon.
The story is fast paced, there is very little downtime between events. The characters are lively and relatable.
I loved Cinder’s character. She has a sarcastic attitude which is one of my favorite character types. Cinder has not had an easy life. She believes that her parents were killed in a crash that injured her so badly she had to become a cyborg. She has been an outcast her whole life. No one wants to be around her because of her cyborg nature. She is seen as less than human, which influences her view of herself.
I wrote a post about storylines that drive me nuts, one of those being a character hiding a part of themselves from someone else because they are afraid of what will happen if they tell their secret. Usually, this storyline makes little sense and makes the character holding the secret weaker as well as the other person. But in this story it was different and I didn’t hate how it was used.
Cinder is afraid to tell Kai that she is a cyborg. All her life people have looked down on her because of this condition that she had no control over. She did not choose to become a cyborg, that was a choice made for her. No one respects her. She is seen as less than human. So her holding onto that secret makes sense. This is how she views herself. She doesn’t see herself as worthy of affection or respect. She doesn’t understand Kai’s kindness towards her. She is sure that once he learns who she is, he will run. For this story, this all makes sense. I wanted her to tell Kai everything but I understood why she didn’t.
Both Kai and Cinder are thrown into an adult life. Both have to grow up fast. Kai has to rule his people, keep them safe and try to find a cure for a plague that is destroying their lives. Cinder is thrown into a new life that she isn’t sure how to navigate.
I liked the way both of the characters were written. They don’t become rational adults right away. They have to make some huge decisions that they shouldn’t have to make at their age, but at the same time, they hold onto a youthful view of the world. Kai and Cinder both hold onto a youthful naivety about the way their lives are and should be.
Their story doesn’t wrap up neatly in this book. Everything is left hanging and I loved that. I was worried that they would finish up their story, and only be side characters in the rest of the series with no more real growth or extension of their story. But that doesn’t happen. We are left wondering what will not only happen in their lives but between the two of them. It made me go right out and buy the next book. I am eager to see how not only does the story progress but what is in store for Cinder and Kai’s characters throughout the rest of the series.
(Slight spoilers for those who have not read the novel.)
Brave New World was always one of those books I wanted to read but never got around to it. When I was in school I left it off my to-be-read list mostly because I figured sooner or later I would have to read it for class. But it never appeared on any syllabus. Now I am out of school and walked past it in the bookstore and figured it was time for me to finally read this one.
All I knew about the book was that it was a “classic,” dystopian genre novel. I knew it involved the idea of basically cloning people, but that was all I knew. What it is truly about is what makes a human, human and how in our pursuit for everything to be perfect and happy we may lose the essential elements of what it means to be human.
Brave New World takes place in a future where human life is literally manufactured. There are no more natural births in “civilized,” society. Every person comes from a test tube. They are then conditioned to fall into a certain place within the society. No one questions it because they are raised to understand their place and like it. There are no issues, everything just operates at a steady pace without question. If anyone begins to doubt life or is unhappy they are able to take a drug called “soma,” that drugs them up and makes them forget their problems. Society operates like a machine, all the parts moving together without an issue. Life is about consuming and producing and that is all.
Bernard is an Alpha-Plus, one of the highest ranks, that does not quite fit into the mold that he is supposed to fit into. He questions aspects of society and wonders if their way of life is actually right. At first, it seems like Bernard is going to be the one that fights against society and tries to change things.
But then he takes. Lenian, to what is called a Savage Reservation. Here is where those who are not “civilized,” live. They are native people who are not manufactured but are born. There they meet John, who is actually a product of two members of “civilized,” society. His mother came out to the reservation with a man from the society and was left behind. She happened to be pregnant and gave birth to John and was forced to live on the reservation. John was raised on the reservation but never fit in because he was an outside. So when Bernard offers to bring him back to civilization he jumps at the chance.
John loves the idea of civilization until he actually experiences it. His mother has lost all connection to life and when she is back all she does is drug herself up. She can’t bear to live life anymore so she doesn’t. John hates that the “doctors,” let her constantly use the drug. He doesn’t understand why they won’t help her. They don’t understand why he cares so much about her.
John is at her bedside when she dies and he sees first hand the way this new world works. Her death is barely registered. The children are being conditioned to not care about death. He can’t understand why no one is upset or shows any real emotion. He is furious at the way the whole thing is handled and he freaks out. He tries to force everyone to understand that they are nothing but slaves to drugs and this society, but no one listens or cares. They have no idea how to listen to his words because they can not think for themselves.
After his mission is aborted he is brought into the office of the Controller who tries to explain this new way of life to John. He tries to explain that what they have done is taken the responsibility of living away from everyone and created what they consider a utopia. No one worries, no one hurts and no one cares. This allows the world to just keep moving forward without incident.
John does not think this is the way life should be. This is not the way he grew up and he does not understand this way of life. He knows that for life to have meaning, there has to be a yin and yang. There has to be bad to make the good worth something. And good in itself has to mean something.
The Controller points out to John that wanting inconveniences in life is a slippery slope, it opens the door for so many others things to happen as well. Asking for the right to be unhappy is also asking for, “…. the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; and right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” (pg 240).
All of those above things are a human right. This sums up the idea of the novel well. Life is literally manufactured in this world so does that mean that these people are actually human? What makes someone human? Is it just the biology of a person? Or is it free-will and the ability to have a meaningful life full of happiness and sorrow? These people are alive, but they aren’t truly living. They are just existing. Nothing happens to them. Nothing means anything to them. No one person means anything. John can’t understand that idea. Life to him has to have more meaning.
It was interesting in this novel because Bernard started it seeming to be the one that was going to question everything. He didn’t understand why things were the way they were, but that didn’t last too long. Once he returned with John and introduced him around he became a pseudo-celebrity and was no longer an outcast. That is what Bernard ultimately wanted. He wanted to be accepted into society. He stopped caring about the inconsistencies and questioning anything. He couldn’t step out of society because he didn’t have anywhere to go. He didn’t know any other way of life. This one way of life was literally ingrained into him and trying to walk away was not something that was possible for him.
It is not uncommon for people who move from one culture to another to have trouble adjusting. Life is different, values are different and that change is something humans have a hard time adjusting to. You have to understand that life is not the way you know it and that is has changed. Neither John nor Bernard had the ability to adjust with their surroundings. They both have a set way of living in their minds and trying to change is no possible.
John can’t get used to a world where nothing truly means anything. For him, that is not living. He wants to run, but he has nowhere to go. There is no life left for him to live.
This novel as an interesting read. It made me think of what exactly makes a human, human. While it also shed light on why cultures clash and the difficult of changing a known way of life.
“The Maze Runner,” series by James Dashner is a post apocalyptic novel series. The first book, The Maze Runner, has been made into a movie recently. This keeps on the track of dystopian novels that have gained popularity since “Hunger Games,” came out. What this series does differently is that it is extremely action packed, there are very few moments where the main characters aren’t running from someone or trying to save themselves. It also keeps us in suspense for the entire series. You get small tidbits of information, and believe that by the end you will have all the answers you desire to fully appreciate the choices made and the course of the story, but unfortunately you get few answers and are left hanging at the very end of the series.
The series starts with Thomas showing up in the maze. He is brought in like many of the others through a metal box. He has no memories of his life before the maze. He is in this place, and has to survive with a number of other boys; all who are determined to find a way out of the maze and back home. What we learn is that the maze is only the first trial on the list. They are all being used as experiments to help find a cure for what is called, the Flare, a diseases released after sun flares devastated much of the planet. Thomas and his friends spend the series trying to survive in order to get to some type of safe life back.
Dashner knows how to write very plotted out action and suspense. I kept turning page after page because I had to see what was going to happen next. I had to make sure everyone got out of the current situation or that we might get some type of valuable answer. Someone was always on the edge of danger. Every chapter ended with a moment where you were holding your breath. I went through each book always waiting for that moment when we were going to lose someone else.
Not only was I always afraid of losing someone, I was also eager to get answers. What was WICKED’s ultimate goal? What did the trials have to do with finding a cure and blueprint? How would a blueprint cure the disease? What did Thomas do for WICKED before the trials? Why did he work with them? Why did he go into the trials without his memories? Did he know everything? Or only a part of the whole situation? What was his true relationship with Aris and Teresa?
So many questions and I was disappointed because I never got any answers to those questions, at least none that satisfied me. The end just left me hanging and confused. The actual physical ending was even a question in and of itself and made me scratch my head wondering what was the point? I am a reader who loves to have questions through out the novel that keep me wondering. I am perfectly fine wondering about something until the last page but I expect the last few pages to give me enough answers. Not all questions will be answered but I want most of them to be. Unfortuneatly this series gave few if any answers.
Dashner started off with two very strong characters. Thomas was lost without his memories but he was courageous and determined to do what he could to save everyone. He was caring and he was strong. Then the next two books never built on his strength in the first book. I felt like never knowing his true past made it very hard for him to grow. He was so determined to not remember that he became single minded. He wanted to save his friends and get away from WICKED and that was it. Though we kept being told that he had some part in starting the whole ordeal.
I really wanted to see Thomas have this crisis of consciousness moment. He did not have to think what he did in the past was right. He could have seen it with new eyes now that he survived both trials and could have changed his opinion. But without his memories he was just purely hating WICKED because of very little information that he had. I wanted to see Thomas have to figure out what to do with his past and present since they seemed so vastly different.
Teresa was the same way. She was the outsider in the maze, being the only girl and the reason that the whole place started falling apart. But she never gave up on getting out and she formed a connection with Thomas. A connection we know they had before the whole thing started. But then after they escaped that whole thing crumbled. We barely saw her in the other two books. They never had a real talk about their pasts, even after Teresa got her memories back. She drifted back and forth so much that I lost interest in her.
It would have been great to see these two stand together to overcome their pasts and rescue everyone. They knew what happened and they were the only who could be able to really relate to one another and understand what they did and why. I would have loved to see them play off each other and keep each other going. Instead of having Brenda randomly show up and sort of take that role. But again she had a significant past that we never got to truly understand. I was left wanting more from everyone.
Dashner knows how to write suspense and action very well. If you want a nail-biting novel series that keeps you wondering after every page this one is for you. Unfortunately I wanted more answers then I got, and got less character development then I usually like.
There is nothing I love more than a book that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the very last word on the very last page. A book that you contemplate when you aren’t reading it and are constantly wondering what is going to happen next, is the best. A book that makes you think, is even better. I haven’t found a book in a while that holds me captive, but with Ready Player One I found that magic once again. This book reminded me of why I love to read, it has a very intriguing storyline, a great protagonist and it leaves you thinking at the end.
In 2044 OASIS is a virtual world that is an escape for everyone around the country. The real world is a complete disaster. The energy crisis has destroyed the economy along with the planet. People are desperately trying to scrape by and make it one day to the next. Life just seems absolutely miserable. OASIS is where everyone goes to escape and hide from the deteriorating world around them.
James Donovan Halliday, an avid gamer, is the creator of OASIS. He dies and leaves the most epic of treasure hunts in his will. He sets up a contest where everyone who uses OASIS can hunt down three keys and pass through three gates to ultimately find the “Easter Egg,” and win his fortunate; which is billions of dollars.
Wade is an orphan who is forced to live with his despicable aunt. He is determined to find the “Easter Egg,” and escape from the horrible reality that surrounds him. Wade ends up in a race to find the egg, where he learns what is means to have friends and learns what about the value of reality.
Halliday was a huge fan of the games, music and movies that he grew up with as a kid in the 1980s. I was born at the very end of the ’80’s, so much of things referenced in this story I only know about from my parents or from specials on TV. I imagine that if you grew up in the ’80’s with all of these things this would be a fun trip down memory lane for you. He references movies such as “Wargames,” and games like “Pacman.” If you know these games, movies or songs I assume it would be even more fun to find the clues and puzzles alongside Wade. Even if you are not from that generation, like me, it is still fun to go along on the journey. You can follow along and keep track of what is going on just fine.
I love these type of stories that have puzzles built in. I even like them more when I recognize the references and can make connections to what is going on. While this aspect of the story is fun and keeps the plot moving really well (except for one small portion in the middle), the development of Wade’s character is what really made me love this novel. The process of watching Wade change throughout this journey was very well done and was paced very well.
Wade, at the beginning, is a kid who has nothing left to him in the world. His parents are dead, he has no real life friends and no one to help or support him. OASIS is where he escapes to. It is the one place where he can feel like he belongs. He goes to school there and meets his one friend, Aech there. He is out to find the “Easter Egg,” initially so he can take the money and run away. He wants to be able to escape this world that he sees as dying and pointless.
Wade is the one who finds the first key, after five years of no one making any progress, and sets off this great race that becomes extremely dangerous for everyone involved. He spends the first half of his hunt driven by the desire to win so that he can get out of the life he is stuck in. Soon the tables turn and it is no longer just about him trying to escape. It becomes about him trying to save OASIS for everyone, as well as learning what reality really can mean.
There are a few points that are turning points for his character. One of the main ones is when he meets with Sorrento, the leader of the corporate bad guys Sixers. The Sixers are only out to win to be able to fully control OASIS and exploit it for their own purposes. They want to take it from being a sanctuary for people and turn it into a corporate controlled land. Wade refuses every offer they throw at him, even ones that will set him up with money for life.
I loved his interaction with Sorrento because we saw Wade stand his ground and refuse to give in. Even when he is given a chance to have what he always wanted; the ability to escape his miserable life. Here we see that he is out to win for other reasons. Even though he wants to the money he isn’t willing to sell out to get it. He still has morals and values and he isn’t willing to let those go just for money. I loved watching him stand up and fight back. I knew right away that he was going to be someone I could understand and stand behind throughout the whole book.
The other point where we see him changing is when he falls in love with Art3mis. She is another avatar that is out to find the egg, and is matched in skills with Wade. He almost stops hunting the keys and trying to puzzle out the clues because he spends more and more time with this girl. He wants to get close to her, even if it isn’t in the real world. For a brief time he seems almost willing to walk away from the hunt to have her. Though that falls apart when she rebuffs him stating that he doesn’t really know who she is. He then becomes determined to win, not only for the money but to be able to meet Art3mis in real life. Finally he has a reason to want to live in the real world, even if it is just to meet this girl face to face.
At the end of the novel there is a quote that I feel really sums up the story and what it is trying to tell us. “I created OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world… I was afraid, for all my life… That’s when I realized as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it is the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.” (Cline, p. 364). Wade learns by the end of the novel that reality isn’t the desolate land he always assumed that it was. Being able to escape, whether it is into a book or a video game, is great. We all need that escape and place to hide sometime but you can’t live in that place forever. Reality is where life happens and where life thrives.
This idea echoes so well for our day. We all can escape so easily into the Internet through our phones or computers. We hide online where it seems safe, which is again fine for a time but life is always waiting. The open air with real solid Earth beneath your feet and real people with all their emotions, good and bad, are waiting. Waiting to be experienced, understood and appreciated. Throughout the novel Wade learns, that yes, the world has its problems and can really suck sometimes, but it isn’t completely destroyed and hopeless. Reality is still valuable and irreplaceable and always will be.
I picked up this book for really one reason. I am always intrigued by stories set in futuristic worlds where machines and computers rule our lives. I am interested because it hits close to home in this day and age or because I like to see people fight this system. I love to see people defy an oppressive world, and even if they don’t always win I like to see them fight with everything that they have. I love dystopian type novels where people consciously fight against a system that they know isn’t right.
This story had that element of someone fighting the systems but is was more a tragic love story and a coming of age story. There is no big fight that changes the way the world works for everyone. The only real change we see is in our main character Titus. Whether he takes action after the novel ends we will never know. But a fire is ignited inside of this young man and that is what is most important. By the end this lost teenager is ready to move forward, he has a reason and drive to begin to fight.
Titus is a teenager living in a world where almost everyone has a “feed,” directly put into their head. Computers are with you at all times. In this world you can chat someone by just thinking about them. TV runs inside your head.The feeds are integrated into every aspect of your body, which is where the major conflict comes from for this story. Take your current Smartphone and have it implanted directly into your brain and you have what the feed is like.
Titus comes from a wealthy family. He has had a feed ever since he could remember. On a vacation on the moon he meets Violet. Violet is the opposite of Titus. She is poor, she has none of the privileges that Titus has come to see as routine. Her mother left her family and her father is very anti-corporation and a tad bit detached from reality (or it would seem). Violet got her feed late in life, because her parents were told she would have to have it to live in this world. A hacker breaks down their feeds for a time and leaves them vulnerable. Violet’s feed is damaged permanently. Over the course of the novel we watch as Violet deteriorates. The feed breaking is like cancer, it slowly destroys her body, leaving her helpless.
Titus is our main character and our narrator. We watch as he not only tries to deal with Violet essentially dying but we also struggle with him coming to terms with the failures of the world he lives in and trusts. Up until his trip to the moon and meeting Violet he lived a perfectly simple life. His parents paid for everything and his feed kept him connected to the world, very simple and safe. He didn’t have to do much of anything for himself.
Then he falls for Violet and she changes how he sees the world. First she shows him how to defy the feed. Violet constantly shops around, shows interested in items but never actually buys anything. She tries to keep the feed from getting a real hold on her. She doesn’t want them to be able to control her. She doesn’t want them to determine what she wants, how she acts and what she knows.
Titus finds it amusing at first but once Violet’s feed starts shutting down and her body starts breaking, it is no longer a joke. Because of this act of defiance no one will help Violet get the help she needs. Violet petitions for free repairs but is denied because the corporations (that run everything), can’t get a handle on her. She isn’t seen as a “reliable investment” (Anderson, 247). This is a turning point for Titus. He sees just how out of control his world is. Because a corporation can’t get sales from you, you don’t deserve to live (essentially).
Titus cuts off contact with Violet after they have a major fight about what they mean to each other and what is happening to Violet. Titus feels Violet is getting too serious. He tells her, “I didn’t sign up to go out with you forever when you’re dead,” (Anderson, 274). Titus is a kid, who wants to stays locked in his ignorant bubble. Violet’s life is ending and the last thing she wants to do is pretend everything is perfect. Titus can’t handle that mentality. He can’t handle knowing that the world is at war, that they are all losing their skin and are being destroyed by corporations That is a lot for a teenager to handle.
I loved how this all dealt with everything in such a real and believable manner. A teenager, especially a privileged one, isn’t going to change their out-look on life so easily. Teenagers are stubborn and the last thing they want is to be told how big and scary the world truly is. Reality about life is the last thing they want to deal with. In a world where you can escape into the feed it makes sense for Titus to hide and run away from Violet and her problems.
He ignores her because he doesn’t know what to do or say. She is right, he knows this but he doesn’t want to know it. He doesn’t want his life to be upturned and confusing. He wants to be able to move forward without having to question every move he makes. Violet makes him wonder what is real, what he doesn’t know about the world and if the feed is something that should be feared. Violet is dying because of a very broken system and he doesn’t know what to do or where to turn.
It ends with him realizing the truth about this corrupt system. He cries as he tells her their story. A story about an ignorant man meeting a woman who shows him the truth and the man realizing that he has to fight the feed. The last words are from an advertisement that says, “Everything must go.” For Titus this means moving away from this reliance on the feed and to stop letting it rule his life. He couldn’t save Violet but you get a feeling that he is determined not to let this ever happen to anyone else. His friends are falling apart before his eyes and now he has the fire inside of him to fight for them. He watched the feed destroy this girl he might have loved and he that motivated him to fight this system.
I picked up Ghost Country because it seemed like an interesting dystopian type novel. I have always loved novels that explore what life would be like after the world has come to an end. There are many different ways this has been done and I was very interested to see what angle this book would take. Disease? War? Some nature event? In the end it was none of these but a new, kind of complicated, idea.
This is the second novel of Patrick Lee. I have not read the first one, The Breach, but I was able to follow the story line regardless. Though I am sure it would explain better what The Breach is and what the entities that come through it really are.
In this novel an entity comes through, two black seemingly plain cylinders. When turned on they give a glimpse into a future seventy plus years from the present. A future that is desolate and dead. Travis gets dragged into a fight to find out what happened and how to stop the events that lead to the destruction of the planet. It is a constant, on the run adventure to get away from the corrupt leaders while working towards saving the world.
Normally when I read it is the characters that I fall in love with. Strong interesting personalities are what usually keep me turning the pages. This novel was very different. The characters were decent but they were not what kept me invested in the story. It was purely the plot that held me captive. Lee slowly reveals the details of what happens in the future and why the world has ended. Each revelation takes you an inch closer. You don’t get an information cascade pushing you off the cliff and into the whole dilemma. You get small pieces that give you more questions until you have all the pieces and fully comprehend what has transpired. As if you were actually part of this race for answers.
I liked getting pushed further and further into the story but the descriptions used sometimes took me out of the story. The descriptions of where people were standing or how they were looking were very precise and, too me, a little over complicated. Such as, “They moved east across the southern span of the building,” (Lee, pg 205). He uses very specific directions that I had a lot of trouble envisioning. It felt very military and scientific and unfortunately that isn’t how my brain functions.
The reason for the destruction of the world is a very different, very scientific idea. It is an idea I had never even heard about. It is a little bit hard to comprehend if you don’t have a good grasp of science, but you can get the basics of it and it still makes you squirm a little thinking about what it could mean in the context of our world. What happens when a seemingly good, save the world, idea goes horribly wrong.
Ghost Country is a chilling tale of what a few high powered people can do if they put their minds and effort into it. Though the characters don’t remain with you, the plot and revelations will, making you wonder and ponder what is all means at the very end.