She had raven hair, styled Joan-of-Arc short...Overall, she seemed to be going for a sort of mid-’80s post apocalyptic cyberpunk girl-next-door look. And it was working for me, in a big way. In a word: hot.
This is light, easy, full of '80s nostalgia and fun. An eighteen year old kid living in rough conditions IRL has essentially retreated completely into an MMG in the US in year 2045. He finds himself in a deathmatch with a huge evil multinational, falling in love, and fighting battles we can only dream of. He's conveniently brilliant, and we feel for him because he's charming despite himself. I once spent an inordinate amount of time playing an online text adventure game called "Kingdom of Loathing" - which is not at all like OASIS, but also very much like OASIS in that it lives on pop-culture nostalgia. That's where I first learned about this book.
Nevermind that. There's nothing amazing about this one beyond pure pleasure. I do wonder, if you're too young to have seen Monty Python or played on your Atari (I played Pong for hours on end b/c my father said we couldn't afford more games) or booted up a Commodore 64, would the book be as interesting or funny? I dunno. I really enjoyed this. It was like taking a bath in my younger life.
If you want to read this, treat yourself to Will Wheaton's performance. It's worth it alone to hear him say the following lines when it's time for the elections:
It was also time to elect the president and VP of the OASIS User Council, but that was a no-brainer. Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.
That made me giggle so hard - at work, while running statistics. Normally not a funny task.
While this book tries to broach some larger topics, it's probably best to leave those aside. It won't change your life, it won't make you think super hard. It may, however, delight you.
I don't remember if I've ever talked about my fondness for Stephen King before on the blog. I know that I've mentioned that horror is a genre that from time to time I thoroughly enjoy. There was one summer in particular that I found myself binge reading some of King's works. I read through Carrie, The Tommyknockers, The Shining, and Needful Things that summer but that wasn't where my love affair started. It actually started with It: King's novel about a group of kids who face an unspeakable horror while growing up that comes back to haunt them as adults. I've actually re-read this one a few times simply because I find something new each time that I read it. There are all of the elements of horror as well as a healthy dosage of psychological thriller which King is known for. It's all set in Derry, Maine which I for one would love to visit as it seems to be the epicenter of King's works. It is not for those who suffer from Coulrophobia or the fear of clowns. The nexus of evil in this novel is a shape-shifting entity that primarily takes the shape of a clown so that it can lure children to its lair. (Not sure what kid would willingly follow a clown but these kids seem to be into it.) The main group of children that this book focuses on were outcasts who formed the 'Losers Club' and because of their combined strength they were able to provide a united, threatening front. The book flips between the present day (1984-85) and the past (1957-58) and tells each of the main characters stories. You get to know them and root for them all to various degrees. If you've never read any of Stephen King's books and you want a good place to start then I definitely recommend It. (Warning: There are adult themes and coarse language so keep that in mind.) If you'd like to delve into horror but you're a little overwhelmed with all of the choices then I recommend this one to you as well. :-D (Warning: Likely to induce nightmares for the faint of heart.)
There are some books that I can re-read over and over again. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is one of them. Some of you (or most of you who knows) are aware that the 1980's film of the same name was based off of a book. I can say with absolute confidence and conviction that the book is superior in every way. The story is centered around a little boy named Bastian Balthazar Bux (one of the most fantastic names in literature) who is not your typical hero. He's chubby and spends the majority of his time buried in books. He has a strained relationship with his father and he is bullied at school. This character is real. He is tangible. I empathized with this character on a lot of levels. He comes upon a book (I'm definitely leaving a lot out here on purpose) titled The Neverending Story and from this moment on he is changed forever. This isn't a regular book. It's alive. The reader (us) is taken on a journey with the reader (Bastian). We are introduced to the land of Fantastica with characters that range from the Childlike Empress who is the ruler of the land to Atreyu who is on an epic quest. This might be one of the first books that caused me to weep with grief...or maybe it's just the first one that I remember. Whatever the case, I still cry every single time I read this book and I try to read it once a year. It's an adventure story that is layered with magic, friendship, and self-discovery. There's a reason why it's one of my favorite books of all time.
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf is a graphic novel which was used as the basis for the documentary film of the same name which came out in 2017. This is the account of Jeffrey "Jeff" Dahmer during his adolescence in Ohio from the point-of-view of his friend, Derf. [A/N: I would say "friend" is pushing it as it was frequently noted throughout the book that while a group of boys dubbed themselves The Dahmer Fan Club and imitated him/quoted him on multiple occasions Jeff was rarely (if ever) asked to hang out with them.] Derf talks about Jeff's home life which was as you'd expect: turbulent and troubling. His parents had an argumentative, unhealthy relationship and his mother in particular monopolized much of the attention in the home making it possible for Jeff's habits to remain under the radar. Jeff was an alcoholic from a very early age and somehow this went unnoticed by the adults in his life including his teachers. However, Derf says that it was common knowledge among the kids at school that he was often drunk in class and looking back it was most likely a coping mechanism against his darker impulses. Besides his unhappy home life, he was struggling with his sexuality as a gay man and his sexual fantasies which revolved around having total (i.e. sexual) control over male corpses. He managed to keep this urge in check by murdering animals, skinning them, and keeping their bones in a shed behind his house. And yet no one had any idea this was happening. Hindsight is 20/20 and Derf seems to employ this readily when explaining that he and the other boys in the Dahmer Fan Club "knew" something wasn't right with Jeff which is why they often didn't invite him to be a part of their group activities. His parents were too caught up in their imploding marriage and his teachers seemed to have turned a blind eye even when he imitated people having epileptic fits to comic effect in their classrooms. (This bothered me a lot by the way.)
I found the informative background knowledge on a serial killer that I knew little about quite interesting but the artwork (remember this is a graphic novel) was not my cup of tea. It was the faces which I really didn't like. Perhaps that was artistic license since Dahmer tended to dehumanize his victims. I just know that it brought me out of the narrative more often than not. I'll give it a 7/10 overall because it was almost too unbelievable to be true. If you enjoy true crime and find the evolution of serial killers to be fascinating then you'd be remiss not to check this one out.
|The fits. [Source: American Book Center]|
What's Up Next: Mine Own Executioner by Nigel Balchin
What I'm Currently Reading: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty