Tag Archives: Ready Player One

Guest Post from Jenna Does Books: Crossover Book Recommendations for Brittany & Other YA Readers

Hi, friends! I just got MARRIED and am now on my honeymoon in Aruba!!! I won’t be able to attend to my blog this week since Shane and I are having fun in the sun and relaxing, but not to worry — I’ve left my blog in good hands. All this week, I have a series of guest post-ers (and they all have some pretty great posts!

Today’s guest post is from Jenna at Jenna Does Books. She came up with some wonderful book recommendations (and you know I love some good book recs!)

Crossover Book Recommendations for Brittany and Other YA Readers

By Jenna DeTrapani from Jenna Does Books

cover-pb-ready-player-oneFor the inner-geek…
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – 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. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is towin. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?

Why the Recommendation?
Outstanding – Outstanding – OUTSTANDING. A geek’s or 80’s pop culture fanatic’s dream. Now if only they would make progress on the film. If you read this, make sure you “read” it via the audio book courtesy of Wil Wheaton. It’s extra awesome/hilarious because Wil is briefly mentioned in a book for which he narrates. And there are NUMEROUS parallels between himself and the main character. Such a wonderful homage to geek-dom.


cover-girl-all-the-giftsOr your inner-freak…
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey – Not every gift is a blessing… Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. The Girl with All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Why the Recommendation?
Oh my goodness, The Girl with All the Gifts is disturbingly awesome. It terrified me, but I’m alright with that! I have a feeling that if this book is ever made into a movie, I’ll be too much of a wimp to go see it. Sad truth. But reading the book was one amazing experience! Read it. Now. Prepare to be… honestly, I have no idea what. But you’ll understand once you’ve read it yourself.


cover-confessions-shopaholicFor the fashionably chic…
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella – Becky Bloomwood has what most twenty-five-year-olds only dream of: a flat in London’s trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season’s must-haves. The only trouble is, she can’t actually afford it — not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn’t pay much at all. Still, how can she resist that perfect pair of shoes? Or the divine silk blouse in the window of that ultra-trendy boutique? But lately Becky’s been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank — letters with large red sums she can’t bear to read — and they’re getting ever harder to ignore. She tries cutting back; she even tries making more money. But none of her efforts succeeds. Her only consolation is to buy herself something … just a little something… Finally, a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life — and the lives of those around her — forever.

Why the Recommendation?
The Shopaholic series is one of the few adult contemporary series that I’ve read. Admittedly, the quality of the story has declined with each new release, but my love for this first, ingenious, flirty-girl comedy installment will likely lead me to frequently reread the book for many years to come. (Also, what obsessive book nerd cannot connect to the main character’s dilemma in one way or another?)


cover-the-princess-brideOr if “twoo wuv” is what you seek…
The Princess Bride by William Goldman – What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams? As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears. Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere. What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex. In short, it’s about everything.

cover-as-you-wishWhy the Recommendation?
Who can possibly resist this tale that has become a timeless classic for book and movie buffs all over the world? A whole lot of everything plus the kitchen sink, The Princess Bride is proof that any genre can be for anyone, young and old. Goodness, I love it. Additionally, check out As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes – best experienced as an audio book!


cover-the-beesOh, if only these animals could speak…
The Bees by Laline PaullThe Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut set in an ancient culture where only the queen may breed and deformity means death. Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous. But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds. Thrilling, suspenseful and spectacularly imaginative, The Bees gives us a dazzling young heroine and will change forever the way you look at the world outside your window

Why the Recommendation?
Undoubtedly the most unusual book I have read in at least a decade (or more). The story does for bees and religion, “group think” and society roles what Animal Farm did for barnyard animals and government. It has transformed this reader. I have a deeper curiosity and respect for an animal that I once looked at with nothing more than revulsion and fear. I’m not saying I’ll be going out and making friends with my neighborhood bees anytime soon, but at least now I can understand their position.


Thank you so much for guest posting on my blog today, Jenna! I LOVE the book recs! READY PLAYER ONE and THE PRINCESS BRIDE are two I hold near and dear to my heart and I really can’t wait to get to AS YOU WISH! 😀

Don’t forget to stop by Jenna’s blog after seeing all of her recs today! She runs the fabulous blog, Jenna Does Books so be sure to stop by and show her some love there too!

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You can also see my own selections for some crossover recs (for both adults who want to try YA and YA readers who want to try adult fiction) on my Book Addict’s GUIDE to Crossover Books!

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Ready Player One – Ernest ClineTitle: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Publishing Info: August 26, 2011 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 6, 2012
Related Posts: Armada

    In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

bookreview1

I absolutely loved READY PLAYER ONE. It was geeky to the core and it was awesome. The endless 80s references were a blast and really even though I’m just a little young to appreciate ALL of them (I was a child of the 90s, after all). It didn’t really matter that some were over my head because the book was so enjoyable all around! It was funny, it had serious action, a romance, suspense, death, battles, intrigue. It was so well written that I can easily see anyone enjoying it, even if you’re wary of the 80s theme being a little out of your norm.

Another thing I hadn’t expected is really enjoying the fact that it’s so integrated into video games and computer culture. Honestly, I’ve never been a video game person. I’m not good at them (I get way too stressed out haha) and I don’t really know much about them, but if you don’t know, all of the older games are explained for you. I was easily sucked into that world and didn’t really feel like all of it was going over my head at all. Ernest Cline does a great job to make sure that anyone who reads the book will be able to not only understand what’s going on, but enjoy it. I also think it was great the way everyone interacts in the Oasis because it allows for a lot more action sequences like battles and quests as well as magic, because that’s a lot more easily explained as a computer game than it is occurring in real life. I got totally sucked in to the world of the Oasis, so much so that at times I forgot that the Oasis wasn’t actually real and the characters were still out there somewhere in the real world even though their “real” world is essentially the Oasis since they spend so much time there.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

When I heard how awesome Wil Wheaton was with this narration, I thought that I had to get this book as an audiobook to see. I was totally not disappointed! He was great at narrating, keeping you interested, great character personalities, accents, etc. It was definitely some of his narration in combination with the story that led to a couple of “laugh out loud” moments (for instance, if you ever want to hear how some narrates a smiley face in an email 🙂 That positively cracked me up). I’d definitely recommend the audio to anyone!

character_breakdown1

Wade Watts/Parzival: Wade was a really likable MC for me. The way he was written just seemed so natural and real. I felt like Wade was a real person and not just a character…. Although since Wil Wheaton was narrating, I kind of pictured him as Wil Wheaton haha.
Aech/H: By the way, totally had no idea that’s how “H” was spelled since I was listening to the audio…. Oops! He was comical, brave, knowledgable, and a great best friend to Wade, even though they only knew each other through the Oasis and hadn’t met in real life. I think it’s kind of cool the point that this brings up in the fact that they’ve known each other for years, but since it’s only through the Oasis, it may seem like they’ve never met; however, I think it was Wade that says really they know each other in the best way possible — on a pure intellectual and mental level. Since they don’t know what each other really looks like, all they know of each other is pure personality and I kind of like that. It’s like the best way to get to know a person.
Art3mis: Although I understand her hesitation about opening up to Wade and letting him get to know her “true self”, I kind of found it annoying at times! But what can you say… After spending all of your time in the Oasis as only an avatar, I’d totally suspect it’d be weird and scary letting someone know who you really are!

addiction_factor1Buy it! (And listen to the audio!)

Oh my gosh, the audio was just SO GOOD for this book. I really loved the whole book too. Gah, this was just soooo much fun!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE READY PLAYER ONE

Discussion: From Appropriate to Taboo: Where to draw the line in YA

In the spirit of Banned Books Week (and the fact that my Top Ten Tuesday was horribly boring this week), I decided to stir the pot a bit with a discussion post. Here I want to ask the age old question: How far is too far when it comes to young adult novels?

You know what I’m talking about – the sex, the drugs, the drinking, the swearing. They all play a major part in our lives, obviously for some more than others, and despite the controversy, also in the lives of teenagers. I often wonder if I were to write a book, how would I feel on including these controversial subjects? Would I sensor myself in order to reach a wider audience and younger teens? Would I have a tell-it-like-it-is attitude and keep my novel gritty and heavy? Obviously this is going to vary from author to author and the reception of this will vary from reader to reader. Technically, there is no right or wrong answer on exactly what is appropriate for young adult readers and what is not, and I’m more so talking about the inclusion of these elements in general, not quite the severity of them (I think the majority of us can agree that graphic sex scenes, rampant cursing, and very heavy drug use is generally inappropriate for teen novels. This is meant as an interesting and fun discussion so please understand what I mean when I’m talking about what’s “appropriate” to include in YA).

Swearing: 
I don’t know about you guys, but I swore like a sailor as a teen (I guess I still do. Oops). A lot of times there are ways to avoid using curse words to make a book a little less harsh in language and a little more friendly to the younger teens (I’m not a parent, but I would venture to guess the parents would be happier about this too). The best example I have right now for this Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’m in the middle of the audiobook (gotta love Wil Wheaton’s narration…) and I’m actually quite surprised at not only the frequency but the selection of curse words throughout the book. Now it doesn’t bother me in the least – if anything, it enhances the story for me a bit because it makes it seem more real. With plenty of surprising moments, bouts of frustration and anger, etc, swearing not only seems appropriate but naturally how I would react in these situations too. I can easily see where people would say it’s too much an unnecessary. For my tastes, it really works with the story. Another thing to think about here is that the main character Wade is also eighteen. It’s not like this is a book where the main characters are on the younger side of adolescence. If they were thirteen, fourteen, fifteen year-olds, I’d actually say the cursing would be a bit excessive for what I’d like to read from that age group. Obviously this is all my personal opinion, but for me, it fits. The more I think about it, the more I’m starting to see that it really depends on the age range of the characters and the age range of the target audience that seems to be swaying me in either direction. Another example that comes to mind is Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. Emmy has quite a different approach to swearing in her book: if ever it’s a “harsher” curse word, she actually censored the characters herself. Sometimes it was just “Screw you” or “you’re such a jerk” instead of the more crass language. A lot of the time, that actually took away from the story for me because it felt so unnatural. If I was that angered to the point of insulting someone and yelling, let’s face it. I’m not gonna use the word “jerk”. When the actual swear words were used, it was the bare bones of the swear and letting us fill in the rest of the letters to figure it out. From this method, I would guess that the target audience for Monument 14 may be a younger one and this would be a way to stretch the audience down to younger teens, even pre-teens considering we have characters that range from around 5 years old to 18; but then comes my issue with that balance. Throughout the book, we also have teen drinking (and a lot of it by the “cool” kids), nudity, sex, and violence (although the violence isn’t severe). So then I was left with the question, how subjective are one of these “taboos” to another? Personally I thought it was pointless to censor the swearing if we’re also reading about underage drinking, sex, and teenage fantasies. I thought those ranked a bit more severe on the taboo scale, but of course, that’s just another opinion. Which leads us to….

Sex:
Sex in high school was kind of a non-issue for me. I didn’t really have any relationships that lasted in high school so I was never really in that situation and I never had to think about it. I guess if I had to say how I felt about it back then, it was towards the negative side because I heard the negative stories: the wild parties, the teenage pregnancies, etc. So when I read YA books where the characters are sexually active or losing their virginity, I’m never quite sure what to make of it. Okay, here’s my confession: I was raised fairly conservatively and despite the mass amounts of movies and TV shows where sex is no big thing and everyone’s doing it in high school, it wasn’t like that for me. I grow a bit hesitant at the amount of young adult books I read with the same kind of situations. Is sex included because that’s the ultimate step to take as a teenager? That’s how you know the characters have finally committed to each other and fallen in love? I can see some books including it, but I’m afraid at just how many there are out there that all included a sex scene with their characters at 16, 17, or 18 years old. I don’t want to bring up books that may result in spoilers so I’ll try to use more familiar ones, like the Twilight series. I was crazy surprised that part of the main theme in Eclipse/Breaking Dawn is sex. Let’s be real: That’s the main reason Bella even marries Edward, right? Let’s get married so we can have sex? It didn’t seem like she really wanted to marry him otherwise (especially the way they portrayed it in the movie! I haven’t read the books in a while so that part is a little fuzzy). Am I right in saying that at least a little bit? And then Breaking Dawn happens and okay, so they’re married at this point, but the big moment finally happens and Bam! Immediate pregnancy. I guess that does really set up the plot for the rest of the book, but still. You just barely graduated high school, throwing away the college experience, begging to be a vampire just so you’re A) not older than your boyfriend by one year and B) so you can get it on. I don’t know. The more I think about it, the sillier it sounds. And don’t get me wrong – the Twilight series is still one of my favorites, but when I really stop to think about it, you can’t deny that sex shaped the entire second half of this series. Another series I loved but was still left with my jaw-dropped: The Chemical Garden by Lauren DeStefano. When I finished Wither, I was so excited to finish and really, really enjoyed the book, but at the same time, I was slightly appalled in a way. Whatever crazy mutation that this was that killed boys at 25 and girls at 20 (okay, what virus is really that specific and could really do that? – I overlooked it…) created a crazy teenage pregnancy break out. In order to keep the human race alive, there has to be teen pregnancy. Some of these girls are picked as young as they can so they can produce the most amount of babies for their teenage husbands, and poor little Cecily who is either 13 or 14 in Wither (I think maybe she turns 14 in the book?) is the first to get pregnant. And she’s excited for it. Wait, what? I mean, when I stop and think about it, I’m not sure how I ended up liking this book so much because how is that okay in any way? But again, this theme is something that shaped the entire plot of the whole series.
There are plenty of others of my favorites where the guy and the girl finally get together and then have sex. And sometimes, as much as I’ve loved the book, I just roll my eyes. Is sex always necessary to prove that this relationship is valid? For me, sometimes it’s the absence of sex that makes the book even better. I love the slow burn relationships and the sexual tension that pulls you along the whole story – and the characters don’t even have to hook up to make for a great ending – and sometimes I think that’s even better writing than having them jump in the sack together. Perfect example: I just finished Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and it instantly became one of my favorite books and one of my favorite literary relationships. No sexy times involved there (in the euphemistic sense…. because there were PLENTY of sexy moments between Anna and Etienne) and honestly, I think it was so great and perfect without the two of them hooking up.

Alcohol/Drugs: 
Another thing we can’t deny is part of the lives of teenagers is the presence of drugs and alcohol, although I’d say more often alcohol. I still frowned upon drugs pretty hard when I was in high school (again with the conservative upbringing), but I’d say by junior and senior year, the vast majority of kids were breaking into their parents liquor cabinets and having their older siblings buy them some booze. I’d say alcohol and some forms of drug use (I guess most commonly marijuana) are bound to slip their way into young adult fiction because they really are that present in so many people’s social circles. For me, I’d say their presence in YA books aren’t quite as controversial to me when it’s the “upperclassmen” (junior and senior aged high school kids) drinking and smoking pot. I think it’s fair to say that drug use more than marijuana isn’t commonly seen in YA lit (at least I can’t think of drug use like that in books that I’ve read – let me know if you have) due to the fact that once drugs like that are introduced into the story, I think the story immediately takes on a much more serious and controversial tone that aren’t necessarily relevant to the plot at hand. Alcohol, however, plays a much stronger role. It’s what makes the classic party scene and seems much less taboo to include. I was actually quite surprised to see such a strong presence of drugs and alcohol in one of my favorite books, Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins. The story goes that Anna is a nephilim of one of the Dukes (that is to say, a higher demon) and along with others that represent the Seven Deadly Sins, Anna’s father is the Duke of substance abuse. His job as a demon is to lure people into alcohol and drug abuse and Anna as the super-innocent Southern girl has never touched the stuff. So long story short, we see Anna get familiar with these substances, learn how to control them, and has the classic battle between good and evil and whether to lead these people astray or keep them clean. I actually found the plot line extremely interesting, but really, once we were talking about serious drugs and those drugs showed up on the scene (although not actively used by the characters), it still brought up a serious turn in the tone of the book for me. It was instantly transformed into something that was just a little bit darker and a little bit more for “maturer” audiences (for lack of a better word). In Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, the pot usage by Noah and his tight group of friends didn’t really seem that off-putting. It’s a lot more common to see that show up, even among teenage crowds. Not to say I’m always in favor of its presence in YA novels, but I think it’s much more acceptable – in a way – than any other drugs. Then as far as alcohol goes, I think that’s a very real part of teenage life, like it or not. Where I think it really starts to get taboo is the age of the alcohol drinker. Like I had mentioned earlier, the norm for the kids that I knew at that age  was drinking at 17 and 18 years old. I think if the drinkers in the story are younger than 17 (for me at least) it starts to cross a line a little more and begins to raise red flags   the younger the drinkers get. I think I start to feel uncomfortable when the main characters are under 17 and drinking. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my personal experience so I’m interested to see what other people have to say about that!

This turned into quite the long winded post so I’ll start to wrap it up. All of these situations are clearly my personal opinions – and really, that’s what makes all of these situations so touchy. Everyone has their own personal experiences that shape their reading experiences as well. What’s taboo for one person is on the fence for another and is crossing the line for the next. It’s really all on the perception of the reader. I’m sure my opinion (as a 20-something) on these topics can vary extremely from someone who is a parent and has children who are reading the same books, as well as varying quite a bit from the actual teen. Mostly I’m really interested to hear what you guys think! I know a lot of us are adults reading YA novels because they’re fun, there are so many great ones being published, and they’re so enjoyable. So here are my questions for you:

How do you feel about these topics?
How controversial do you find them?
If you’re a parent, how do these themes affect how you feel towards the books?
Would you tell your kids not to read any books because of these themes?
Do any one of these elements turn you off from a book just because of their 
presence? 

Let me know anything I missed, any opinions you want to throw at me, and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!!