Tag Archives: suspense

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 Library at Mount Char

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Wow, just wow. This was honestly like no book I’ve ever read. At first I didn’t know if I liked it or was just confounded by it. In a roundabout way, The Library at Mount Char is a story about creation, with definite biblical tinges. The world is now in the fourth stage of creation and ruled by Father, a heartless monster of a person who is training his “children” in different catalogs of knowledge. All of these children and their father live in the Library, a kind of metaphysical limbo. Each child is in charge of their own catalog and cannot share or will face extreme punishment. The catalogs are wide and varied from mathematics to resurrection.

The story itself starts off with a bang. You’re introduced to Carolyn who is walking the street covered in blood. So many, seemingly unconnected things, happen in the beginning. It’s not until you get closer to the end that you see what the novel is about.

Carolyn is the central figure. She’s the key to unlocking this mystery. But it’s a kind of slow burn to figure out how everything ties together and how these gruesome events all serve a greater purpose.

By the end of the novel, I was devouring the pages. I couldn’t wait to see how the story unfolded and see how much Carolyn grew throughout. Even as smart as she is, Carolyn has important things to learn if she is to control her destiny in a positive way.

This novel reminded me very much of the Golden Compass trilogy. Not so much the story line but in the dealing of large and weighted topics. In the destruction of the world and the building of new beliefs.

Rating: 4.5/5

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

Don’t Stay Up Late

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I’m not sure if I’m just too old or if I held these books up on too high of a pedestal but I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this novel nearly as much as I remember enjoying the Fear Street novels. The plot was unstructured and left quite a few holes. It seemed to me like there was so much build up that the final reveal was a let down. It just didn’t quite all mesh together as smoothly as I remember.

The plot centers around Lisa Brooks who has just recently moved to town with her family. Very soon after the move her father dies in a horrible car accident and Lisa is left with a bad concussion that causes her to hallucinate. She starts seeing a therapist to help her get through her father’s death. It’s the therapist that recommends that Lisa should take a job to get her out of the house and recommends the babysitting job on Fear Street.

At first everything is fine. The little boy is adorable and takes an immediate liking to Lisa. However, it’s not long after Lisa takes the job that things begin to happen culminating in some seriously chilling murders.

The explanation for the murders unravels so quickly and is so loose that it left me unimpressed. This was much more like a mash between Goosebumps and Fear Street than a pure Fear Street novel. After reading this I do want to pick up an old novel to see the difference, if there is one. All in all, I’m sad to say this wasn’t one of my favorites. Hopefully the Fear Street books just haven’t hit their old stride yet.

Rating: 3/5

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

 

The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen

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Memory is an elusive thing. Do you ever remember a thing exactly as it happened? Or do you remember it the way you want it remembered?

That’s the main question posed by The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen. And it’s a good one. Can you really rely on your own memory of events? It’s undoubtedly skewed by your own feelings of the event. Can you trust a camera lens? Again, it’s all perspective. Perhaps a blending of the two lends more to the truth.

The novel starts off with Wes attending NYU summer school from Wisconsin. He feels much more comfortable seeing things from behind the camera than without. With the camera he has a barrier between himself and the world and a control. He can control the scenes he sees and the people that populate his lens. His life is pretty uneventful until he sees Annie by chance at a seance his friend Tyler is filming. Wes then has to hunt Annie down to get her to sign a release form to be in the film and once he finds her that’s when his simple life gets a lot more complicated. Annie has secrets. Dark secrets from the past that she must confront in order to move on.

I really did enjoy this novel. Though I do have to say the plot had quite a few holes in it that never were cleared up. And the “big reveal” is pretty obvious from the beginning. But I did like the way the story unfolded and the connection between past and present represented by the characters. I especially loved the idea of memory and how one little fact can change the way everyone remembers a certain event. How everyone remembers things differently and how memories are more subjective than we like to think.

Rating: 4/5

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

Luckiest Girl Alive

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Ani FaNelli is leading what she thinks is the perfect life. She has a blue blood fiance, a high powered job in NYC working at a magazine, and a killer figure. But underneath all of the facade lies something not so pretty from her past that continually gnaws at Ani. But nothing can stay buried for long, no matter how hard we try to repress them.

I have to say, this novel kind of disappointed me. I was expecting something different than what I ended up with. I found it hard to like the main character. Ani is like a high functioning sociopath. She seems to revel in the fact that she’s “damaged” and feels the need to damage those around her. I imagine the characters as grown up versions of the cast of Pretty Little Liars. They’ve grown up in the same area, the Main Line in Pennsylvania, and all care about wealth and status.

Ain does have redeeming qualities and some very horrible things happen to her that she manages to survive and even, in some instances, to thrive. She refuses to let anyone see her for who she truly is, most of all herself. She keeps a lot of things pressed down tightly. In a way this is a coming of age story. Ani does find herself at the end and finds out what she truly wants and what she doesn’t. But it’s a bit of a slog to get to that realization.

Final Rating: 3/5

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

NY Bestseller

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First up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a New York Times Bestseller. I’ve seen this book everywhere lately and have been dying to read it. And, according to the cover the book was an instant NY Bestseller. That novel is Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

From the description, it’s supposed to be very much like Gone Girl but with it’s own twist. The teasers on the flap definitely drew me in. I can’t wait to find out what’s hidden in Ani’s past and how that past might jeopardize her future. I’ve been trying to avoid reading any reviews online so as to avoid spoilers. This seems like one of those books where the twist ending pulls the whole plot together.

Stay tuned for the full review of Luckiest Girl Alive. Happy reading!