Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
So I haven’t been reading that much of late – mostly because the books I’ve picked up recently have just not been awesome enough to hold my attention – but being the way I am I feel obligated do trudge through til the end even if I’m not all that into the story. This means I can get stuck on a book for far longer than need be.
Until this one. In desperation I asked the girl at the bookstore to recommend me something and she handed me this little gem. Short review: I couldn’t put it down.
I fear that anyone younger than my mid thirties self might not enjoy it as much as I did since it’s so stuffed with 80’s trivia and video game nerdery as it is, but being an 80’s child is not a requirement to get the story. It’s tightly written, with excellent pacing which more than I can say for the last few books I’ve read. It combines high adventure (it is a quest tale, after all) with science fiction seamlessly (massive Japanese mecha, 8-bit video games, wizards and starships in all shapes and sizes!). There was a bit of a lack in some of the character development of characters outside of the narrator, but I don’t think it detracted from the story. Honestly that wasn’t why I was reading – his friends were background, filler, mirrors.
So for a novel that lives up to the promise on it’s back cover, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is one you should probably pick up. And if you need some nostalgic nerdporn, definitely pick it up!
So I entered a contest at Penguin Canada and I won (I won!) a book that came via FedEx this week. I have read the little blurb on the back and I am excited to read and review this book – as soon as I have finished the excellent so far Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
This is the third time I have won books. I won a couple from Goodreads contests and another from Penguin a couple of years ago. But this is the first time that a book has been sent to me via FedEx. I should know better than to use my home address, because they always try to delivery on weekdays during business hours. Anyway, I got the sticker thing on my mailbox and thus had to bribe the man with Tim Horton’s coffee to take me to the FedEx office (which is really strangely set up, if I may say so) to pick it up. Of course, I had forgotten which books I had entered to win, so it was like Christmas opening the package.
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.
Listening to: Hurricane Waters -Citizen Cope
Watching: Orphan Black
Word Count: 560
This was my least favourite of the series for one reason; it seemed to end right when it was starting to get good. The kids finally get the grail and then wham, that’s the end. They get a piddly little amount of money from the museum and Uncle Merry’s real identity is just hinted at. When I picked up the next book I was hoping that Jane, Simon and Barney would get to make an appearance again. I remember being disappointed that they didn’t – at least not right away and I actually put off reading through The Dark is Rising for quite some time. When I got back to it though, I was in for a lovely surprise The tone is different and less Swallows and Amazons-ish. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that about the first one, which is probably why I had some trouble getting into the next one. The Dark is Rising is the start of the epic fantasy part of the series.
“I had stopped going to confession right after my mother died. Even as a young boy I had performed it grudgingly and with no payoff I was ever aware of. But in writing those words I felt at least an intuition of gracious release. To strip yourself of pretense is to overthrow a hard master, the fear of giving yourself away, and in that one sentence I gave myself away beyond all recall. Now there was nothing to do but go on.”
Thomas Wolff, Old School, 2003
China Mieville does it again. Railsea is the tale of Sham Yes ap Soorap, a young man who sets out to make his fortune by joining a moletrain. I love the world building in Mr. Mieville’s fiction and this is no exception. In this world, the sea is composed of rails stretching over dangerous stretches of ground inhabited by monstrous moles, carnivorous rabbits and massive beetles. The known world is limited only by how far the rails stretch and the terribly poisoned soil over which the rails run. Rocky outcrops mark the world’s ports and cities. Sometimes the world, peopled as it is by such strange and wonderful creations, take over from the actual story, Sham’s story, but the reader is never disappointed. In a nod to Melville’s Moby Dick, Sham’s train hunts a giant white mole, but Sham’s discovery of some mysterious photographs may lead to the most startling, and perhaps lucrative, discovery yet.
I admit I devoured this book in record time and I can’t resist giving it a full 5 stars.
Here’s one of my favourite quotes from the book:
“There was a time when we did not form all our words as we do now, in writing on a page. There was a time when the word “&” was written with several distinct & separate letters. It seems madness now. But there it is, & there is nothing we can do about it.
Humanity learned to ride the rails, & that motion made us what we are, a ferromaritime people. The lines of the railsea go everywhere but from one place straight to another. It is always switchback, junction, coils around & over our own train-trails.
What word better could there be to symbolize the railsea that connects & separates all lands, than “&” itself? Where else does the railsea take us, but to one place & that one & that one & that one, & so on? & what better embodies, in the sweep of the pen, the recurved motion of trains, than “&”?
An efficient route from where we start to where we end would make the word the tiniest line. But it takes a veering route, up & backwards, overshooting & correcting, back down again south & west, crossing its own earlier path, changing direction, another overlap, to stop, finally, a few hairs’ width from where we began.
“I mean that you are making things to be more difficult than they are, or need to be. The facts of life are very simple. In the beginning we feared everything – animals, the weather, the trees, the night sky – everything except each other. Now we fear each other, and almost nothing else. No one knows why anyone does anything. No one tells the truth. No one is happy. No one is safe. In the face of all that is so wrong with the world, the very worst thing you can do is survive. And yet you must survive. It is the dilemma that makes us believe and cling to the lie that we have a soul, and that there is a God who cares about its fate. “
“Civilization, after all, is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit.” P 52
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