Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “holy god is this good”

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #15: John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

 

This book. This freakin’ book. I tweeted it as my Friday Read a couple weeks back and the lovely MsWas told me to get the tissues. While I didn’t out and out cry I did want to curl up with a blanket and hug something or someone when I got to the conclusion. But I was warned about that (h/t narfna).

This book has been reviewed a few times for cannonball, but it’s my first experience with John Green, and although this is YA, and to a certain extent reads that way (there’s a lot of  extremely lucky turns of events that are written off as cancer perks. Cancer perks are real but occasionally it felt a bit convenient), it was good times. Green kept me on my toes even when I was pretty sure I knew what was coming. It should be known that this book’s main characters are all cancer patients at various stages and their families. You definitely need to know this before you sign on to read it, because as I said before – you might need tissues or a blanket to get through the end.

Our narrator through the journey is Hazel, she is sixteen and cancer has gone ahead and settled in her lungs. There is a miracle drug (just in the book) that has stopped the growth and for the time being she’s holding steady but required to bring her own oxygen wherever she goes. However, her mother has decided that she’s depressed and with her doctor’s direction, Hazel is forced to attend a support group. Hazel doesn’t want to go, stating that depression is merely a side effect of dying and not to be worried about. But, as it is in the world of fiction, it turns out to have been for the best that she attends.

At support group we meet Augustus and Isaac. Isaac is a known quantity to Hazel. Augustus on the other hand is something new altogether. I appreciate that Green wasn’t afraid to write the meet cute in a cancer support group. Life doesn’t stop just because you have cancer.  On a lark Hazel shares with Augustus her favorite book and they begin their relationship from there.

I won’t devolve into a plot summary. But the relationships these characters share read and ring true. You get it all with them: hope, love, sorrow, tragedy, triumph, humor. The whole deal. 

Green is careful to point out in his Author’s Note that this book is not about anyone, and is strictly speaking a work of fiction. I respect that. I will however point out The Fault in Our Stars was dedicated to Esther Earl, who’s picture reminds me of what I thought Hazel looks like. Her family has set up a foundation in her honor to support cancer families, This Star Won’t Go Out and is worth a visit, particularly if you have some dollars you can afford to donate.

faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #13: Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One

I just want to say, at the top of this review that I am eternally grateful for all the Cannonballers who have reviewed Ready Player One already this year. Without you, I may never have found my way to this book. And what a loss that would have been.

 

When I first started reading Ready Player One I was afraid I was only going to like it because of the hype. I am pleased to report that this was not the case. If you’ve read anything or heard anything about this story you’re aware that it is a love letter to growing up in the 1980s. It’s also a confession of a love of all things gaming. However this is not a book which aims to exclude. It is a book which aims to include the relatively uninitiated (while also being an homage for those who are in the know). My non-gamer heart feels gratitude for that.

 

Cline’s protagonist’s world is our own, if our world follows a particular downward trajectory over the course of the next few years. Fossil fuels have been depleted, the economy has crashed, and celebrities are now the only people popular enough to get elected to political office. But, this matters little as most people spend the majority of their lifetimes hooked up to the most massively multiplayer game ever created – the OASIS. Every aspect of your life can be accomplished in the OASIS, it’s a complete virtual reality universe. There are planets and sectors for all of the most popular sci-fi and fantasy worlds out there, as well as a planet just for schools, and a commerce district, and anything else you care to program.

 

We meet Wade, or Parzival as he is known in the OASIS after the death of the creator of OASIS, James Halliday.  Halliday has left the ultimate Easter Egg hunt in lieu of a Will. The first few chapters of the book function as an enormous info-dump which outlines that the person who wins the hunt also wins the inheritance of Halliday’s mega-fortune and control of the OASIS. Parzival is our portal into this world. He explains the culture of the time both inside and outside the OASIS as well as the culture that has erupted in the hunt for the Egg, in which he is most immersed as a gunter (an egg hunter). We follow Wade/Parzival and others through the hunt for the Egg, their fight against the Sixers – an organization hell bent on winning the prize and in turn corrupting the OASIS, and Parzival’s journey into relationships with other people.

 

There were times when I wasn’t completely sure this was the book for me. But, miraculously, Cline is able in his first novel to bring such a clear and original voice to life that you immediately consider yourself a friend of the friendless Wade. This is a truly engaging story in every sense of the word and once things get going, an incredibly quick read. I found myself slowing down on purpose while reading the last forty pages knowing that once I got there, I could never un- get there.

 

So read this book, particularly if you love both Ladyhawke and Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. I promise you don’t need to understand gaming to truly love this book.

(p.s. the audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton if you’re into that sort of thing)

this review is cross-posted

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