Category Archives: dystopian novel

Ready Player One

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This novel is pure nostalgia in a lot of ways. While I didn’t grow up in the ’80’s, the movies, music, and television from that era are so pervasive in American society and pop culture. John Hughes movies are still shown on television as are TV shows like Family Ties and Square Pegs. Turn on any classic rock station and you can find Pat Benatar and Foreigner. I really enjoyed reliving many of the classics I grew up watching and finding out new ones. Ernest Cline knows the decade well.

I loved how the novel incorporated so many elements. It’s like playing a real video game at times in your head as the characters battle it out in the OASIS. The theme of the blurring of reality and fantasy was so well done. And is just as pervasive in our world. This is the reason many people read. To escape their own reality for a little while and enter someone else’s. And in the OASIS, that’s exactly what happens. Your world erases and you are allowed to build a new one. You can create a character to be anything you want. There are no limitations.

That is why, in Cline’s Ready Player One, the OASIS is so popular. The real world around them has crumbled and they’ve retreated into the comfort of the OASIS. Enter the main character Wade, better known as Parzival. He’s a self made gunter, a person hunting for Halliday’s famed Easter Egg and his fortune. Halliday was the creator of the OASIS and when he died he left behind him the greatest game he ever made, the hunt for the Egg and for his massive fortune.

During the journey for the Egg, Wade begins to realize that perhaps virtual reality is not all it’s cracked up to be. Nowhere is perfect. It may be easier to hide behind your avatar but rarely does the easy path lead to change.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy reading!

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Coming Soon!

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Next up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a book that is going to be an upcoming movie. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to read for this challenge. A lot of the “books becoming movies” I’ve read before or came out last year. Finally I found Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. When I worked in my local bookstore we could not keep this book on the shelves. Customer after customer would tell me how amazing the novel was and how much they liked it. I finally got my hands on a copy of my own and decided why not.

The premise of the novel sounds spectacular. I love the ’80s, though I haven’t played many video games myself. I can’t wait to see how ’80’s pop culture is incorporated into the novel and what quest the characters will find themselves on.

Stay tuned for the full review of Ready Player One. Happy reading!

The Handmaid’s Tale

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Since I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood I’ve seen this book everywhere, maybe in part because it’s banned books week. I just saw The Handmaid’s Tale on a pin of the 50 scariest books of all time. And I must say it fits on that list. It’s not a horror novel or a work of supernatural terror. This novel is unsettling. It’s prophetic. It’s terrifying because it could possibly happen and has been happening, in varying degrees, around the world.

The Handmaid’s Tale centers on a woman known only as Offred, literally meaning belonging to Fred. Through Offred we learn that the United States government has been overthrown by a totalitarian Christian theocracy. This Christian theocracy, known as the Sons of Jacob launches a revolution in the U.S. where they kill the president and Congress and manage to suspend the Constitution under the pretext that they are trying to restore order in the chaos they created. Quickly this group takes away all of women’s rights through use of their credit and debit cards, which to me is terrifying because it could be so easily done. After taking away women’s rights each woman is assigned a specific task in this new society. Offred becomes a handmaid, which is a nice way of saying baby machine. That’s her entire purpose in this new regime is to produce offspring for Commanders and their wives to rebuild the population.

The women in this new regime literally have everything ripped away from them. They no longer even have their own names. They belong to a man and that’s their role. They are no longer able to read or write because the male commanders feel that this would give them too much power.

In an interesting scene between Offred and her commander, he explains that the theocracy felt this new society would be better. But better never encompasses everyone.

I really enjoyed Offred’s narration. You can feel her isolation, her longing, and her fear. You are totally encapsulated in her world. You see, feel, and hear everything she does. But with her narration you have to realize that she is human. All that she sees and reports may be tainted by her own thinking. Especially at the end you realize how much Offred took control of the narrative, perhaps even chaining a thing or two.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a truly breathtaking work of fiction. It makes me want to go out and read more Margaret Atwood. If you’re looking for a dystopian novel to read, or a book for banned books week, give this one a try. It’s truly terrifying in it’s implications.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!