Books I've Read

Book Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of MidnightTitleCrown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy

SeriesThrone of Glass #2

Edition: Kindle e-book

Blurb: “A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Review: Slight spoilers for book one, because it’s hard to avoid them at this point.

I love when reading the first book of the series and thinking that the story showed promise, and then reading the second book and being extremely satisfied. This was a great book two! It followed up on the events of book one (particularly the tournament in which Celaena becomes the King’s Champion) and added whole new levels of excitement and intrigue.

Celaena is such a great heroine. She is feisty, doesn’t take crap from anyone, but is still deeply, deeply flawed. And she knows it. The final reveal at the end of the book was not necessarily a surprise (I had my suspicions), but it was still so satisfying to see the evil powers confronted the way that they were. I won’t say more, or else I’ll really spoil things. It was a great finale for the second book, but things are definitely not tied up neatly. So much is happening, threatening Celaena’s relationships/friendships with both Dorian and Chaol, and testing Chaol’s loyalty and Dorian’s sanity.

And yes, there is a love triangle a bit, which can sometimes annoy me, but this one was done nicely. It didn’t bother me.

This book was hard to put down. I had to know the next steps. Has Celaena turned loyal to the king? Or is she playing her own game? What is going on with the magic in Adarlan? Who are these rebels? All things we need to know!

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Throne of Glass

throne of glassTitle: Throne of Glass

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Throne of Glass #1

Edition: Ebook

Blurb: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Review: I picked up this book after being emphatically told that I must read this series by my very dear friend and former podcast co-host, Jess. Actually, what she said was more along the lines of, “I need you to read these books right now because I really really really need to talk to someone about them before I lose my mind!!!” She has done this to me before, and usually, she recommends good stuff. Our reading tastes are very similar, which is why we get along. I also noticed that, back in 2016, I had read this book and gave it a 4 star review on GoodReads, but never read the rest of the series. This makes it eligible for my “Complete the Series” challenge, an added bonus.

I have to say, I read this book very quickly. I was immediately pulled into this world and these characters. Maas is very good at making the story seem simple at first, but leaving little hints of the depth of the world behind it all. It is very easy to be captivated by Celaena’s story and struggles to win the competition, but it is also very clear that there are deeper mysteries that she will need to contend with.

I really liked Celaena as a character. She is feisty, sarcastic, and does not take any crap. While the love triangle thing is played to death, especially in YA, I also really like the two men who in her orbit. Dorian is the son of a terrible, cruel king, but Dorian does not want to be like his father. He is kind and compassionate and will hopefully survive to become a benevolent ruler. Chaol is the captain of the guard, keeping his feelings close to his chest, but you can also tell that his grudging respect for Celaena will grow into something more.

The plot and pacing of the story was good, very exciting. The competition aspect was good, but adding the whole intrigue layer with champions being attacked and killed just upped the ante. The final battle, both of the competition and of the book itself, we both satisfying and open enough to make you want more.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars, but probably more like 4 1/2

Books I've Read

Book Review: Crow Flight by Susan Cunningham

crowflightTitle: Crow Flight

Author: Susan Cunningham

Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery

Series: none

Edition: ebook ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Gin trusts logic a little too much. She even designs programs to decide what to eat and how to spend her time. All that changes when she’s paired with a new transfer student, Felix, on a computer modeling assignment to explain certain anomalies in the behavior of crows.

As she enters Felix’s world and digs further into the data behind crow behavior, Gin uncovers a terrible secret. And the wrong decision could equal disaster squared . . .

Review: Another review for NetGalley, and it was a very pleasant surprise! I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. Not that I had a bad expection, but I had no expectations at all.

Let’s start with our main character, Gin. I absolutely loved her. More stories about nerd girls, please! I could relate to her on a level that I did not expect. She loves computers and making these models and apps to help her with her life. She is awkward and has trouble making friends at school, but she is also very confident and knows who she is. She doesn’t expect to find her self-worth through other people. Her goal is to get a very prestigious internship and then go to Harvard.

She doesn’t quite know what to do with Felix, and for most of the story, I didn’t either. He was a big part of the mystery, even though he seems like mostly a normal, nice guy. A big part of this story was trying to figure out what was going on with him and, of course, with his family’s pet crows. In the beginning, their behavior seems almost magical (to the point that I almost thought this had fantastical elements at one point, but it doesn’t – they weren’t actually “talking” to the crows, they are just very well trained).

The story itself did drag in some places, but it also really kept me invested. I didn’t want to put it down. I was a bit disappointed in the ending, as I was expecting more of a final confrontation, but if there was one, it happened offstage somewhere. It was a satisfying ending, I just wish we had seen it more on the page, especially since so much time was spent leading up to it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It was interesting and fun to read with some really good characters.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

an absolutely remarkable thingTitleAn Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: This is the only book so far, but GoodReads shows a book two is planned.

Edition: Hardcover, pre-ordered as soon as I heard about it

Blurb: The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship–like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor–April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Review: First, a disclaimer. I was a huge fan of both Hank and John Green since I found their Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube. I liked their funny videos that made me laugh, their serious videos that made me cry, and everything in between. This drew me in to reading John’s books, which I absolutely loved. So when I heard Hank was also writing a book, I knew I would buy it immediately and that I would love it too, no matter what.

What I’m saying is, I am not the most unbiased reviewer where the Green brothers are concerned.

That said, I thought this book was really, really well done. First off, the Carls are just plain cool. Giant metal beings that just appear across the globe, they are both fascinating and slightly sinister at the same time. You never know exactly what they are or where they came from (until the end, sort of – this book is screaming for a sequel). I don’t want to spoil too much, but there was one instance where something April and her friends did caused the hand to fall off of the Carl in New York. The statues are completely still, but the hand falls off and skitters away AND NO ONE CAN FIND IT. It ran into a restaurant or a club, but then just seemed to disappear. The weirdest bit – the hands on all the other Carls across the world vanished at the same time.

So that’s the gimmick. Let’s talk about our main character. April is very relatable. She had big hopes and plans, but is stuck working in a dead end job she hates. She finds this amazing thing, makes a video that goes viral, and has her entire life upended. She is now a media sensation, the target of both adoration and hatred. We watch her personality change, how she suddenly becomes obsessed with the numbers of hits and followers, of trying to stay relevant in a growing number of people talking about the phenomenon. It does go to her head, and one thing that I liked was that Hank was not afraid to make April a little bit unlikable during part of this time. She becomes very selfish, and that takes its toll on her relationships and friendships.

It made me wonder if this was something that Hank (and John) had to deal with once they started getting some acclaim as YouTubers (it really took off after Hank made a video of a song he wrote anticipating Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows –  wow, that was a long time ago). If so, it never showed on the outside, but that’s kind of the point. April tries to present herself in a very positive light, no matter what is happening on the inside, so that none of her followers ever really see the real April. What I really liked about this book was how it not only covered the fantastical story about the Carls, but also showed the very real issues of dealing with social media and Internet celebrity culture.

This book is a very unusual book, but I enjoyed it very, very much.

GoodReads Rating: 5 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

let's pretend this never happenedTitleLet’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

Author: Jenny Lawson

Genre: Autobiography/Memoir

Series: none

Edition: Hardcover, borrowed from a friend

Blurb: For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 New York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

Review: Ugh, you guys. I cannot love Jenny Lawson more.

My friend had loaned me Furiously Happy a while back at a time when I really, really needed it. I was going through some difficult mental health issues, as were some family members, and reading Jenny’s writing really helped (you can see my review here). I’ve noticed on several people’s lists recently that they have also found Furiously Happy and enjoyed it, but I haven’t seen as many folks mention Jenny’s first book, which is just as good.

This one delves a bit more into Jenny’s childhood – not that her second book didn’t, but this one had a bit more stories about her parents, her sister and growing up in a very, very weird household. Of course, there are also stories about Victor, particularly about when they first met and got married. All delivered with Jenny’s unique voice and outlook on life in general, which is awesome.

If you haven’t read this one, you should definitely check it out, especially if you already read Furiously Happy. Of the two, I probably enjoyed Furiously more, but Let’s Pretend is also excellent. You should also follow Jenny on The Bloggess, just because.

GoodReads Rating: 5 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Anger is a Gift

Anger is a GiftTitleAnger is a Gift

Author: Mark Oshiro

Series: none – standalone novel

Edition: Hardcover that I preordered as soon as I heard about it

Blurb: A story of resilience and loss, love and family, Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift testifies to the vulnerability and strength of a community living within a system of oppression.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Review: Y’all. This book. I just can’t.

Let me back up. I first discovered Mark Oshiro probably in 2008. He was writing a blog for Buzznet at first, but then branched out on his own, writing daily posts where he reviewed books a chapter each day, usually popular books that he had never read. He started with the Twilight series (oh, how he hated those) and his reviews were hilarious. Then he reviewed Harry Potter, expecting it to be boring kiddie books, and it changed his life. After that, he started his own website, Mark Reads, and has reviewed tons of books this way. His posts are funny, insightful, at times heartbreaking, and always unprepared for the next plot twist.

So of course, when I saw that he was writing a novel of his own, I had to get it. When I saw the title and heard what it was about, I knew that this wouldn’t just be cute and adorable. This would be serious. This would be tragically timely. I was both excited and terrified to get started.

You will absolutely love Moss and his friends. They are sweet, wonderful kids who are beautifully written, facing issues that kids that age shouldn’t have to face. In short, they grow up way too quickly, especially Moss ever since the death of his father. At times, the plot points felt way dramatic and over the top, except that I know for a fact that this stuff happens all the time. And that made it, at times, very hard to read, but also very important to read.

Mark is bearing witness to issues that affect many different underprivileged communities and people of color. In the book, Moss has a friend who was adopted and goes to the “rich school” and it is important to see how she doesn’t quite understand the struggles that Moss and his friends deal with at his school. She is sympathetic and wants to help, but she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get it. This is so relevant right now, it almost hurts. Many people, me included, have never had to deal with these struggles – racism, classism, other-isms – and while we are sympathetic, we will never fully relate to these experiences. It is important to recognize that, especially since it can make people unintentionally insensitive to certain situations.

I think this is a book that should be read by everyone, especially high school students. It will probably end up being challenged or banned by people who don’t read it and think, just by the title, that it promotes anger and violence (which it absolutely does NOT do). That just means that it should be read more. Everywhere. This book will lift you up, break your heart, and the last sentence will bring you to tears. Read it.

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Radium Girls

The Radium GirlsTitle: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women

Author: Kate Moore

Series: none

Edition: e-book borrowed from my library

Blurb: The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives…

Review: First and foremost, I will say that this is NOT the type of book I usually read. I picked this up to read along with the Seasonal Reading Challenge’s book picks for Fall. They had three books to choose from. This was the only one my library had available immediately. And I have to say, I am very glad that I did. This is a story that will stick with me for a long time.

Kate Moore paints a picture of these women, some of them very young girls when they started working in the factories, that is haunting and inspiring. Her attention to detail and the amount of research that went into telling this story is unbelievable. You really get to know these women and feel a punch in the gut at their hardships and struggles. They are much stronger than I ever will be, knowing that their fight would probably not help them in the long run, but would help other workers facing similar fights in the future.

The details of their illnesses are gruesome and not for the faint at heart. It was very hard to read at times, but it was also very hard to put down. It’s a fairly long book, almost 500 pages, but it reads very quickly. Also, if your blood isn’t boiling with rage at the heads of these companies willfully denying their fault in any of these womens’ health problems, then I don’t think we can be friends. It is abominable what they did, especially since they knew that what they were doing was dangerous, but getting that sweet, sweet money was more important.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. This is a book everyone should read.

 

Books I've Read

Book Review: Furiously Happy

Title: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy

Author: Jenny Lawson

Series: none

Edition: Hardcover, borrowed from a friend

Blurb: In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest:

“I’ve often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people’ also might never understand. And that’s what Furiously Happy is all about.”

Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny’s core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family—and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let’s Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it’s about joy—and who doesn’t want a bit more of that?

Review: Oh my stars, you guys. Have you ever had that moment when the right things just collide? When there was something you needed to hear and, miraculously, the words were delivered right to your door? That was my experience with this book.

I was stuck in a rut, feeling very down about a lot of things (you can read about some of these feelings here – there was just a LOT going on in a relatively short period of time). Basically, I felt lost. Very lost. The problem with these feelings, which for me stem from my problems with anxiety and depression, is that it is very easy to feel like you are the only one. Everyone else is fine, aren’t they? Just look at them! They’re fine!

My stepson’s mom had heard some of this and sent this book to me. It sat on my desk for a while as I suffered through my reading slump and finally got shoved into my purse for a book to read during my lunch breaks at the new job. And boy, did I suddenly feel enlightened! If any of you have read Jenny Lawson’s posts over at The Bloggess (and if you haven’t, get thee over to that site, pronto!), you will know that she is a very . . . different . . . individual. I mean that in the best way possible. She is a very strange, very flawed, very unusual person, and is very unapologetic of that fact! The way she shares her battles with anxiety, depression, and all-around survival of the world we live in are hilarious and inspiring.

I laughed my way through this entire book and read the last two chapters with tears in my eyes. Not tears of laughter though. Tears of relief. Tears of “thank-the-gods-someone-understands.” This book is wonderful if you are dealing with these issues, or if someone you know is dealing with these issues, or heck, even if you just need a really good laugh. This book feels like catching up with an old friend over coffee – you know, that old friend who always has the great stories to tell from her life and can make any experience one that you will always remember. Jenny Lawson has become that friend for me and I will always be grateful for that.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. Would give 10 if it let me.

Books I've Read

Book Review: RoseBlood

Title: RoseBlood

Author: A.G. Howard

Series: none

Edition: Hardcover

Blurb: In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Review: First off, this review is going to have a LOT of spoilers. You’ve been warned.

To start, a bit of a story. I first fell in love with the Phantom when I was eleven years old. I found the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and spent hours upon hours listening to it. I had a crush on Michael Crawford. I wanted to BE Sarah Brightman.

I may have been a little obsessed.

As the years went on, I delved deeper into my Phantom obsession. I read the original novel by Gaston Laroux. I watched many movies and saw many Phantoms – Lon Chaney, Claude Raines, Charles Dance, Gerard Butler. I read fanfiction, both professionally written (Susan Kay’s book is genius) and amateur (FanFiction.net is a crazy, crazy place).

So I know this story quite well. I am almost protective of it, and very particular. I don’t like stories where the Phantom is scarred by outside means (acid, fire, etc.), for example – it has to be from birth, with his mother being terrified of him. He has to have some time in gypsy camps and spend a great deal of time in Persia. And, of course, he has to be a master architect, who has some involvement in the building of the Paris opera house.

Oh, and his name has to be Erik. Nothing else will do.

RoseBlood has most of these things, which is good. The fact that it doesn’t take place in the actual Opera Garnier was a disappointment – instead it takes place in another opera house that has been converted into a music school. The school is called RoseBlood, which to be completely honest, I didn’t like at all. It was too hokey for the name of a school. There were roses and there was blood, so they didn’t need to use it for the name of the school.

Also, just FYI, Thorn is not the Phantom. Thorn is Erik’s adopted son.

And it’s a modern story, not taking place in the actual original timeline. Is it the same Phantom? Why yes, yes it is. How does that work? Well . . .

The Phantom is a vampire.

Ugh . . .

This isn’t a new idea, especially since the Phantom likes to stay hidden (so clearly not in the sunlight). I just really don’t like this idea. I want the Phantom, who does do horrible things, to at least be somewhat sympathetic. In this story, he isn’t really. It’s not just that he was born disfigured and was hated – he is an actual monster. It cheapens the character, I think. Makes him less complex.

But the main problem I have with this is that none of the characters are particularly complex. Rune, our main character, is a bit blah, although she is also a vampire (these are psychic vampires, not the blood sucking kind). She doesn’t realize that she’s a vampire until she learns about it when she’s at RoseBlood. Her and Thorn are supposed to be the couple we cheer for, but they just don’t really do much for me. The other characters, mostly students and teachers at the school, are all very one dimensional and don’t leave a lasting impression.

I hate even saying all of this, because I absolutely love A.G. Howard. I’ve talked to her on Twitter a couple of times and she is a lovely person. Her Splintered series was amazing, the characters complex and unique, the world building beautiful and intricate. RoseBlood just doesn’t have this. I’m not sure what went wrong, and maybe I’m just too picky, but it really didn’t do it for me.

I’m not saying to not read it. It isn’t a terrible read, but I just didn’t care for it. GoodReads rating: 3 stars

Books I've Read

Book Review: Armada

Title: Armada

Author: Ernest Cline

Series: none

Edition: Trade Paperback

Blurb: Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, books and video games he’s spent his life consuming – and too often he catches himself wishing that some fantastic, impossible, world-altering even could arrive to whisk him off on a grand spacefaring adventure.

So when he sees the flying saucer, he’s sure his years of escapism have finally tipped over to psychosis.

Especially because the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of his favorite video game, a flight simulator called Armada – in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from aliens invaders.

As impossible as it seems, what Zach’s seeing is all too real. And it’s just the first in a blur of revelations that will force him to question everything he thought he knew about Earth;s history, it’s future, even his own life – and to play the hero for real, with humanity’s fate in the balance.

Review: First and foremost, I want to say that I love Ernest Cline. I read Ready Player One back in 2012 and absolutely loved it. I read that book  really fast, not quite in one sitting, but it was very, very hard to put it down. I still pull it out and just turn to a random page if I want to read something fun and exciting. So you can imagine, I really wanted this book to be great. I wanted to love it as much as Ready Player One

And I didn’t.

Ugh, I hate saying that. I really do. I can’t imagine how hard it was to try and follow up such a successful debut. And this was a good book, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t have that same spark, that same feeling of wonder. I did enjoy the story and the characters. Zack was a good protagonist with a lot of issues and a lot to learn. I really liked the alien world and technology – it was really interesting and fun.  Who wouldn’t want to find out that their favorite video game was real and you could play it in real time in real life? This would be a dream come true for a ton of people, so it was cool to see how that would play out. It wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

There were also several good plot twists, some a bit predictable, some that caught me completely by surprise. Of course, no details there so I don’t spoil anyone.

There were elements of other stories that I enjoyed. Definite hints of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. You could also tell that the story was heavily influenced by Contact by Carl Sagan. And lots of other pop culture sci-if staples: Star Wars, The Last Starfighter. Cline loves infusing his stories with all these elements that he enjoys, and the excitement he has for them really comes through on the page.

So while it wasn’t as good as Ready Player One in my opinion, Armada is still a very good book. I recommend it for any sci-if fan who has ever dreamed of getting to be part of the story.

GoodReads Rating: 3 Stars