What a disappointing series! First of all, super cliche! It was effectively a love story (between teenagers) set in space, and repeated over and over again throughout the series. Also, I found it quite distracting when the story kept switching POVs back and forth between both main characters. It really took me out of the story. Those little poems or whatever, at the start of every chapter, were so unnecessary as well (felt more like fillers, really). I finished the first book, took a break from the series for a couple of months (after I realized that the second book had a different set of main characters, which was annoying) but ended up enjoying the second book the most, out of the entire series, and seriously struggling to finish the final book. Personally, I’d say skip the Starbound Trilogy.
Come for the apocalypse. Stay for cupcakes. Die for love.
Phew! I finally finished reading And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host and I say finally because it really was a struggle! The first part was alright. In fact, it started off pretty strong! However, after the halfway mark (when the Blue’s “Super Powers” started to manifest) I found myself quickly losing interest because the author was focusing way too much on the mechanics of the “Super Powers” (in grave – and quite frankly, boring – detail). I only purchased this on my Kindle Paperwhite because it was found in the recommended list (Readers Also Enjoyed sidebar) on goodreads when I was searching for something similar to The Razorland Trilogy (reviewed here). Plus, the picture on the cover looked intriguing… and with a tagline like that, how could I resist?
The story takes place on a future Earth. There’s an ongoing energy crises. Catastrophic climate change. Widespread famine, poverty and disease. Half a dozen wars. Basically, the “real world” sucks! Ironically, the only time our teenage protagonist, Wade Watts, feels alive is when he enters the “game world” also known as Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation (rolls of the tongue don’t it?) or OASIS (a virtual reality simulator accessible by players using visors and haptic technology such as gloves) which was created by James Halliday. Almost everyone spends a significant amount of their lives logged on to The Oasis (which is free) to escape the harsh reality of their everyday lives. I mean it’s pretty much an MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) except credits in the “game world” are the most stable form of currency in the “real world”. Kids can log on (from their homes) and actually go to school in the “game world” because the public school system has been coded online. People can socialize and hang out with other people in the “game world”. People can also go out on quests together, earning credit and experience points (XP). Anyone can do whatever they wanted (provided they had enough credits to do so and were sufficiently leveled up). James Halliday (eccentric 80’s fanboy) as the creator of The Oasis, obviously amassed a vast fortune. Prior to his death, Halliday inserted an easter egg in The Oasis promising his entire fortune to whomever found it, ensuring a world-wide egg-hunt or The Hunt as the contest came to be known. Just like winning the lottery, finding Halliday’s Easter egg became a popular fantasy among adults and children alike. The Hunt quickly wove its way into global culture, even creating its own subculture (egg hunters or gunters for short) comprised of people who devoted every free moment of their lives searching for the Easter egg. Halliday did leave a few clues behind that seemed to indicated that a familiarity with his various obsessions would be essential to finding the egg which in turn, led to a global fascination with 1980’s pop culture.
Ready Player One is every geek’s wet dream! The entire book is basically nostalgia porn with reference after reference to the 80’s (music, movies, videogames, tv shows, fashion, literally everything)! There are several references to the 70’s and 90’s as well (pop culture in general really) but mostly the 80’s. Even the way the story plays out is like an 80’s movie (at least in my mind). I won’t go into it too much but if you grew up in the 80’s, (or listened to 80’s music or watched a handful of 80’s movies) you’ll know what I mean. There’s a morale (or message) to the story and everything, but most importantly, just like all things 80’s, it’s got heart! I even found myself tearing up a few times (for real). Don’t get me wrong, the story itself isn’t that mind-blowing as the premise is pretty much the same as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Also, I kinda’ got annoyed at times because I just wanted to know what happened next in the story, but I had to sift through pages and pages of descriptions, which took me out of the story. I’d appreciate all that attention to detail if it was a movie but as a novel I feel like the author kinda’ overdid it. For me, what drew me in and made it enjoyable was that Ready Player One was saturated with references! As a geek myself (or nerd, whichever you prefer), so much of it just spoke to me and I could totally relate! However, geek or not, gamer or not, 80’s fan or not, pop culture fan or not, you will find Ready Player One enjoyable regardless!
“What if life as we know it was just a game?
What if, instead of traditional schools, children learned by participating in a virtual reality simulation, one that allowed them to experience “life” from birth to death — multiple times?
“Here’s the basic idea; you log into the Game and you’re born. You live your life as best you can and, when you die, you return to your real body taking the lessons you learned and the memories of the experiences you had. Many return to live multiple lifetimes, many do not. You have no memory of the real world, or at least you’re not supposed to.”
In 2008, DARLAH which was written by Norwegian author Johan Harstad was published. In 2012 (incidentally, also the same year the story takes place), DARLAH was translated into English and that’s how we got 172 Hours On the Moon.
Another chilling novel from Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, The Running Man takes place in a dystopian future (the year 2025) in the United States where people are hooked on reality tv shows! The government controls everything including entertainment. As such, the government-sanctioned “Games Network” showcasing ultra-violent game shows (where contestants end up being maimed if not dead, all for a chance at the prize money) broadcasted on Free-Vee (Television) which are pretty much located everywhere – from the streets to the Development apartments – and going off the name, we can surmise that Free-Vee is free (they want you to watch). The differences between the rich and poor are vastly disproportionate; the rich being ridiculously rich whereas the poor are desperately poor. Life is very bleak for the poor. Even air is poisonous on ground level and isn’t breathable but the rich live in a high Tower and are therefore unaffected. The sadistic game shows are the only chance the poor have at changing their lives for the better.
As I said before (in this post Book Club) after reading The Razorland Trilogy I was inspired to start a “Book Club” series on my blog, where I’d review books and you guys could provide your input in the comments section and we could hopefully start a dialogue, or at the very least, you guys can enjoy reading the review and possibly even go out and purchase your own copy of the book in question. The first book I actually reviewed on this blog was The Long Walk by Stephen King (reviewed – here). Now, on to my review of The Razorland Trilogy (Enclave, Outpost, Horde) by Anne Aguire.
The story takes place in the future. A long time ago, something horrible had happened above-ground, forcing people to live below-ground, in enclaves. We are introduced to a group of survivors, a community of sorts, who live in such a place. Their living conditions and their chance of survival is so terrible that they aren’t even given a name before they reach the age of fifteen. Until then, their names are their gender and and an exclusive number (for example, Girl15) or collectively referred to as “brats”. Nobody lives to see forty. In fact the oldest person living in the enclave with a withered face and shaky hands is only twenty-five years old. They do have a “healer” whose crackpot ways does more harm than good. If a brat manages to make it to fifteen years of age, they go through a ceremony of sorts and are not only given a name, but also a assigned a job, of which there are three; Breeder, Builder, Hunter (and get the matching number of scars signifying which group they belong to). Hunters seem to be held in the highest esteem (which is understandable since they not only provide food but are also expected to protect the Enclave with their life) whereas Breeders seem to command the lowest respect even though people with any birth defects and such were not allowed to become Breeders (lest they pass on their less than stellar genes to the next generation) and finally Builders are somewhere in between the two as they provide everything from medicinal salves to weaponry for the rest of the Enclave. That said, a Hunter/Huntress or a Builder can always be demoted to a Breeder for disobeying the rules.
The story is told through the eyes of Girl15 who has wanted to be a Huntress ever since she could remember. She is named Deuce (based on the “artifact” which was a playing card her blood had dripped over when she was cut as part of the naming ceremony) and luckily assigned to the job she wanted. As a Huntress, her job is to leave the enclave, go into the dangerous tunnels, and bring back meat to feed the group. Anything found in the tunnels (artifacts or remnants of the world “before”) should immediately be given to one of the elders upon arrival back to the enclave, otherwise the Hunter or Huntress risks being accused of “hoarding” which is unforgivable. Simple enough except there’s a dangerous threat known as “Freaks” lurking in those tunnels and she has to evade them. We’re not really told what freaks are, but we know that they are mindless beings who eat human flesh, and they vaguely resemble humans. Not hard to suss it out, is it?
Deuce was a good little soldier, all about honor, duty, purpose, all that. She was all about following the rules… unquestioningly, until she meets Fade, a mysterious Hunter (I know you guys are rolling your eyes). Deuce can’t quite understand Fade but she admires the way he fights. Then he says some stuff to her and at first she thinks he’s crazy but little by little, even though she fights it at first, she begins to understand what he’s been trying to tell her.
I have never been outside the enclave, of course. This space compromised the only world I’d ever known, cast in darkness and curling smoke.
Basically, Deuce has been conditioned to blindly serve and obey whereas Fade is so “woke”. The reason why I found Enclave so intriguing was because it takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. The premise alone is endlessly fascinating! Generations and generations of people who have never been above ground, can you imagine? They’ve never breathed fresh air. They’ve never experienced the weather topside (wind, rain, snow). They’ve never even seen the sun! They eat, they sleep, they work (or in the case of the brats, they learn, until they are fifteen years old), that’s it. That is their lives.
People in the world before seem obsessed with objects that existed simply to look pretty.
Their reactions and even their thought process comes across as people truly living in a post-apocalyptic future who are genuinely baffled by the remnants of a more advanced past. You really get the sense that these people have no clue about the world that came before them. At times it can be quite sobering but at other times it can come across as somewhat comical (albeit dark). When Deuce comes across items from the world before she can’t even begin to comprehend the fact that they serve no practical purpose (other than looking aesthetically appealing) which kinda’ remind me of the show Kyle XY.
Another reason why I was so enthralled by this story was because of the overwhelming sense of urgency. Death was always looking over their shoulders. The only thing separating these people’s home from the freaks lurking outside in the tunnels was a makeshift barrier. A minimal injury you wouldn’t even blink at in today’s world, can easily lead to death (once the infection sets in) in their world. Lack of proper hygiene can lead to sickness and eventually death. Lack of food can lead to hunger and eventually death. Lack of water can lead to dehydration and eventually death. Even if a person managed to survive through all of that, they’d still end up sorta’ withered and wilted and die at a young age from the horrible living conditions (lack of sunlight, proper nutrition, smoke inhalation, etc…), such a bleak existence.
If anyone disobeyed the rules, they’d be banished by the elders, which out in those freak-infested tunnels was pretty much a death sentence. Fade wasn’t born in the enclave as he just sorta’ showed up one day (many years ago) and would have been sent right back out into the tunnels (even though he was effectively a child) but he had impressed the elders enough with his aptitude for fighting (they figured he’d be useful) so they let him stay and he received a name, a profession (Hunter), the scars, all that, once he turned fifteen. Somehow Deuce ends up getting banished from the enclave and Fade decides to leave with her. With no sense of purpose anymore Deuce feels lost but Fade has an idea of where they should go next.
<!–Warning Spoiler Alert Warning Enclave, Outpost and Horde reviewed here. Warning Spoiler Alert Warning–>