Ready Player One

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $22.74
Paperback $16
Hardback $19.07
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780307887436
9780307887443 — Paperback
9781524755614 — Paperback
9780307887450
9781451752335 — Glued Binding
9780606264129 — Glued Binding
9788466421140

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 5P

Readers Annotation

Whoever wins the game will change the world

Summary

Welcome to the Dystopian Future (again)! This time its because people used up the fossil fuels (and are idiots) and corporations suck. The internet/web/Oasis is where people escape/work/go to school. There’s corporate slavery (indentured), and tons of espionage.

At the beginning of our story, the Oasis is free for everyone to access. When the creator (Haliday) dies, he sets up an “egg hunt” in order to find the successor to his empire. The game is simple: find the three keys, open the three gates, pass the tests and get the egg. There are individuals trying for the egg (“gunters”), groups of gunters (clans) and IOI (an evil corporation trying to win and charge people for access).

SPOILERS AHEAD!!! Highlight to read.

Our main character is on Wade Watts is a teenager living in the stacks, a ghetto where trailers are literally stacked on top of each other. He lives with his aunt and her boyfriend and several other tenants. Wade is a “gunter,” and spends all of his free time looking for the egg. Wade goes to school online. Wade sneaks out of his trailer and climbs down the stacks daily to hide away in a broken down car in a junkyard to go to school. He heats his space with a bike powered heater. Wade has one friend: Aech. Aech is a professional gamer and travels, and is a high ranking avatar.

Wade has an epiphany one day in Latin that gives him an idea on where the first key is. He gets a pass from the school to travel to the area on the school planet where he’s sure the key will be. It’s a skull shaped grove and he goes through the cave of traps (insert all the 80s things here that I can’t remember) until he reaches the end. It turns out that the game he needs to play is the game Joust (80s game). He wins eventually and gets the copper key. The copper key has the hint for the copper door. 

Just after he finishes, Art3mis shows up. Wade has a crush on her (she’s a geeky gunter blogger). She asks if he’s failed the Joust. He says he has. They chat for a while, Wade hiding the fact that he’s beaten the gate until Art3mis checks the scoreboard to find his avatar name (Parzival). She gets pissed and keeps him in the cave until all the traps have reset. Once free of the cave, Wade gives a hint to his friend Aech on where to find the Copper Key.

Wade continues on to where he knows the copper key to be: on a planet full of recreations of Haliday’s hometown. He goes to Haliday’s childhood home and knows he needs to play Dungeons of Daggerath. Once he completes it, he finds that a poster of War Games has turned into the Copper Gate. In order to pass the Gate, he needs to recite the words to the movie and do the actions correctly. He does everything and passes the first test.

Wade checks the scoreboard and finds that Art3mis has also made it through the Copper Gate and so has Aech, and two Japanese characters: Daito and Shoto. IOI has taken over the cave where the Copper Key is, and has sealed it off so that no one else can get a key and is churning out keys for their own players. Eventually the gunter clans come together and take out the IOI barracade.

Wade agrees to do corporate sponsorships in order to make money. He also gets an email from IOI. IOI wants to recruit Wade to work for them. Wade goes to the meeting with the head IOI seeker Sorrento. IOI offers him everything he could ask for, but Wade shuts them down. Then IOI reveals that they know who he is and where he lives. They threaten to blow him up. Wade believes they’re bluffing and still tells them no. He leaves the Oasis and then sees his trailer blow up.

Wade goes on the run. He assumes a different identity, and moves to Columbus, Ohio. He gets all the latest gear and devotes himself to finding the next key. He steadily gets more involved with Art3mis, and falls out with Aech. He’s never really officially dating Art3mis, and it all comes to a head at Og’s (Haliday’s best friend) birthday party. Wade tells Art3mis he loves her, she says he doesn’t really know her so he can’t love her and IOI attacks. 

After, Wade falls into a bit of a funk. He eventually gets out of it by forcing himself to become physically active. He re-focuses on finding the keys. Art3mis finds the Jade key and Wade plays a perfect game of Pac-Man. He earns a coin he cannot get rid of. Aech gets the Jade key and then sends Wade a hint in order to pay him back. Wade goes to Frobozz and plays Zork to get the Jade key. Then IOI takes over and starts farming Jade keys. They find the Jade Gate, and start getting Crystal Keys. 

Shoto finds Wade and tells him that IOI found Daito in real-life and threw him off a building.

Wade unlocks the Jade Gate (via Blade Runner) and plays Black Tiger to complete it. He then plays a riff from Rush on a guitar which gives him a clue that Sorrento overlooked. IOI makes public the knowledge of where the Crystal Gate is, and locks the place down with a special item.

Wade sends a message to Art3mis, Shoto and Aech and goes offline. He sets up a fake scenario to get captured by IOI in order to become an indentured employee in order to infiltrate IOI. He is captured and destroys his rig. He’s taken to IOI headquarters and placed in customer service. He backdoors his way into the surveillance system and then hacks into the servers. He plants a program to disrupt IOI’s force field. He learns that IOI knows who Art3mis and Shoto really are and are planning on kidnapping them. Wade makes a hasty escape and goes to a public Oasis station in order to contact his friends.

Wade lets them know that IOI is watching them and that they need to run. This is when Og appears. He offers them sanctuary at his home on the coast in order for them to safely attempt to complete the Crystal Gate. Og sends a plane for Shoto and Art3mis and tells Aech to pick Wade up and that they can catch a plane together. 

When Aech comes to pick Wade up he discovers that his best friend isn’t the dude he thought he was but a black lesbian. Aech tells Wade that she learned from her mother that it was better to have a male avatar because people would take a man seriously but not a woman. She also says that she left when her mother wouldn’t accept that she was a lesbian, so she drives around the country in an RV. Wade accepts her and the two reconnect on the way to Og’s house.

Wade sends a message to all the users of the Oasis telling them that everyone should team up to take down IOI and to meet them the next day in order to do so. When the four friends log in and travel to Anarak’s castle, they are surprised to find hundreds of thousands of avatars ready to take on IOI. Wade’s backdoor is a reprogrammed bot that self-destructs next to the item keeping the force-field around the castle. Once the barrier is down, its an all out brawl.

The friends turn into mechs, as does Sorrento (who turns into Mecha Godzilla) and some IOI cronies who have Crystal Keys. Shoto’s avatar gets killed by Sorrento, and Wade uses a special item to transform and take out Sorrento. The friends open the Crystal Gate and IOI sets off a bomb. Every avatar by the castle is destroyed. Wade only survives thanks to a second life (the coin from the perfect game of Pac-Man). Wade enters the gate. With his friends cheering him on, he completes Tempest and goes through Monty Python and the Holy Grail. 

Wade gets through the movie and encounters Haliday himself who explains the situation. Wade brings back his friends avatars with his new powers and they all log out.

Wade and Og talk about Haliday and then Wade goes out to talk with Art3mis. 

Evaluation

This is, frankly, one of the highlights of my reading adventure this year (so far). This had everything: likable characters with realistic problems, great plot, interesting mystery, engaging world (both of them), and a great take on dystopia. What a world Ernest Cline created.

This book was full of things that I knew, or could relate to (despite being born in the late ’80s). I got the references, and I loved the little jabs. The fact that the audio book was narrated by Will Wheaton was the cherry on top of this cake.

Really though, Wade was a likable lead. He had real problems, and he had to address them. His character was relatable. Art3mis was great as well. Aech was top notch. I loved Wade and Aech’s bro-ship.  Sorrento was a hate-able villain, and IOI was the perfect evil corporation.

Wade’s real world was disturbingly real, and seemed like it could fall in the realm of possibility. His online world was a lot like modern MMOs. Both worlds were well drawn and completely believable.

I completely loved this book. I don’t want to live in it (what a horrible future!), but I want to re-read it and have the feeling I will many times.

Genre

Science Fiction

Dystopia

Readalikes

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

Significance

An award winning SciFi, that isn’t too far away from our reality. Realistic future, and future tech.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What do you think about the big reveal?

Do you think IOI was a accurate portrayal of a corporation?

Talk about living in reality vs. virtual reality and the consequences of both.

Author’s website

Ernest Cline

Awards

Alex Award: 2012

Booklist Editors’ Choice – Adult Fiction for Young Adults: 2011

Nutmeg Children’s Book Award (Connecticut): High School

School Library Journal’s Adult Books 4 Teens: 2011

Reviews

Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Booklist

Why I Chose It

This sounded like a really interesting take on society, culture and dystopia. Plus, a friend said it was a really good read.

Other Information

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $22.00
Paperback $12
Hardback $19.61
Kindle $8.51
Associated ISBNs 9780765322470
9780755348817
9780765327826 — Paperback
9780765362360 — Paperback
9781429934848

Rating (VOYA)

3Q, 3P

While I love this book, its a 3Q because its not the most well written book, and it may have some plotting issues.

3P because I may love it, but surprise Paranormal may throw people off and not everyone is all about the murder/sociopaths.

Readers Annotation

John’s not a serial killer, but someone in his town is.

Summary

John Wayne Cleaver lives in a small town with his mother. His father left some years ago and they rarely talk. His mother and aunt work in the mortuary below the house. His estranged sister is their secretary. John occasionally gets to help embalm the corpses.

SPOILERS BELOW! HIGHLIGHT TO READ!!

We start with a murder. Someone in the town has been slashed apart and its making headlines. It’s also gained John’s attention. John is obsessed with serial killers. He’s also a sociopath, but is quick to point out he’s not a serial killer. He writes his school papers on serial killers. He only has one friend, but John doesn’t really have friends (because he’s a sociopath) but there is one kid he hangs out with so it seems like he’s more normal. His “friend” is kind of a douchebag.

The murder gets John thinking. He goes to the place where the man was killed. He notices a pile of black goo. He heads home. He anxiously awaits the body’s inevitable arrival downstairs. His mother is unhappy that he wrote another paper on a serial killer.

John sees a therapist once a week. His therapist Dr Nesbit is the only person who can somewhat understand John and who he is.

A second murder occurs, much like the first one. John starts to think that there’s a serial killer. He starts putting the pieces together. He talks to his friend about the “whys” of the case until his friend gets weirded out. 

He and his mother have a big falling out, and John is banned from helping with the embalming. 

John goes to a dance at school with his friend. At the dance, he meets a girl and talks with her (and later realizes he likes he… sort of). They are interrupted by a bully. John calmly threatens to murder him, which scares him and the girl off.

John’s mother hears about the incident and John has to talk to Dr Nesbit about it. He reveals that he has a set of simple rules so that he can prevent himself from becoming a serial killer: not watching people, not talking to one person for long, and so forth. He developed these rules from studying serial killers, because while he really doesn’t understand people, he really doesn’t want to be a serial killer.

Near Christmas, John notices his neighbor (Mr. Crowley) picking up a suspicious drifter to go ice fishing. John trails them on his bike, thinking the old man is stupid for picking up a drifter who obviously is going to try to kill him. He watches from the trees, secretly berreating himself for only watching and not stopping what’s about to happen. However, it turns out the drifter is the victim. Mr. Crowley is a demon. His fingers turn to claws and he rips the drifter apart. He takes an organ from the drifter, pulls out the same organ from his own body and switches them. His former organ turns to black goo. Then he drags the body away to dispose of it.

John is beside himself. He knows no one will believe him, and he knows he’ll have to do something. He starts to monitor Crowley’s behavior and movements. He starts breaking his own rules, knowing he’ll need to in order to keep an eye on Crowley and eventually kill him.

One night Crowley goes out to “watch the game” but John knows there is no game on that night, which means that Crowley is going out hunting. He follows on his bike and Crowley seems to get more frantic trying to find a victim. He finds one in an alley. John calls the police and waits. Crowley kills the man and takes part of him. The police arrive and there is a showdown. The police are slaughtered. Crowley takes another piece to replace his own failing pieces from one of the policemen. 

John realizes that breaking his rules is helping him start to spiral out of control. He realizes he’s stalking the girl from the dance, and threatens his mother. Even Dr. Nesbit seems concerned with John’s behavior. John needs to come up with a plan.

John comes to the realization that Crowley is trying to wait as long as possible to replace his organs. So John devises a plan. He starts leaving Crowley notes that say something like “I know what you are/did.” Crowley starts to freak out. Crowley waits so long in fact, that the next time that he needs to replace something he can’t go to his normal hunting grounds and kills one of the people from the town, who happens to be John’s friend’s dad.

The town host a memorial. John doesn’t entirely understand the point and wants to go home. He also doesn’t understand why the people are only morning for two of the townspeople and not the rest of the people that the killer has killed. John realizes he doesn’t understand why Crowley is doing this.

He talks with Dr. Nesbit, and brings up a “hypothetical” situation to get his opinion. “Why would a demon stay if he had to kill to and clearly didn’t like killing?” Dr. Nesbit helps John realize that he doesn’t understand because the demon clearly loves his wife. 

When Crowley can no longer keep from feeding, John puts his plan into motion. He sneaks into Crowley’s house and sneaks up to his wife’s room. He grabs her camera and starts taking pictures, getting gradually closer to her. He then bashes her over the head. He can’t stop himself and keeps hitting her. He barely pulls himself away and calls Dr Nesbit. He tells Dr. Nesbit that he can’t stop. Dr. Nesbit talks John down and says he’s coming over to see him. John hangs up. He ties up Mrs. Crowley and keeps taking pictures. Then he starts sending them to Mr. Crowley. 

Crowley speeds home and John barely has time to escape out the back door. He needs to sneak around Crowley’s care to get safely home. He looks through the passenger side door and there is Dr Nesbit. The man had come out to go help John and had gotten killed for it. John drags the body out of the car after realizing Crowley hadn’t stolen any organs from it. He hides the body behind the garage. Crowley comes out of the house furious and starts hunting for John and Dr Nesbit’s body.

At this point in time, John’s mother wakes up and finds him gone. She starts freaking out. John sees that his mother is coming out of the house and so does Crowley. John makes a mad dash to get to her and the two of them race through the house towards the embalming room with Crowley hot on their tales.

They reach the embalming room and defeat Crowley.

Evaluation

I did not expect where this book was going. I honestly thought it was just about a sociopath trying not to kill people (sort of ala Dexter). There was more to it this book than that.

I loved John Wayne Cleaver. This little sociopath is amazing. Not only is he aware of his own tendencies, he is trying desperately to not become what he could be. He is such an aware teenager (which, now that I think about it is a bit of an oddity). The great thing about John is that he just doesn’t understand people’s emotional motivations (and duh, he’s a sociopath). Nearing the climax he wonders why the demon is staying in town, and it just never crosses his mind that its staying because it loves its wife. Oh John… he just needs someone to understand him.

Point being, the characters are great. Learning about the characters from John’s perspective really gives you a different sort of insight into them. John doesn’t necessarily understand people or their motivations, but we can see them through him. John’s mom is an interesting character who is trying so hard but just doesn’t get it. His “best friend” is kind of a douche. His aunt is almost sympathetic. Dr. Nesbit is the only one who really understands John, and it comes through in his point of view.

Clayton is a small town, and you can tell. Its not the most graphically depicted, but you can feel how small it is through the way John talks about it.

Plot-wise, this one took a turn on me (as previously stated). I can see where people looking for a Dexter sort of deal may not like the turn to the paranormal, but since I love paranormal I didn’t have a problem with the twist. However, despite the paranormal turn of events, I thought this was a great introspection on a sociopath’s life experience. Have I mentioned how much I like John?

Genre

Horror

Mystery

Paranormal

Readalikes

Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis

Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

Significance

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

What did you think about the paranormal twist?

What did you think about the Wells’ portrayal of a sociopath?

What would you do if you knew you could potentially be a serial killer (psychopath)?

Author’s website

Dan Wells

Awards

Reviews

Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Why I Chose It

This book sounded like an interesting introspection into the mind of a sociopath.

Other Information

Redshirts

redshirts_800

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $9.99
Paperback $11.09
Hardback $20.27
Kindle $9.99
Associated ISBNs 9780765316998
9780765334794 — Paperback
9781410476074 — Hardcover
9781466815414
9781429963602

Rating (VOYA)

4Q, 4P

4P because its still a little niche, but with Star Trek back in the mainstream it may be more popular than before.

4Q because meta can be hard to read and the formating and voice totally changes, which it should, but it could throw some people off.

Readers Annotation

This is what happens when the redshirts are aware of what tends to happen to them.

Summary

This is the story of 5 new recruits to the spaceship Intrepid: Brian, Hester, Hanson, Finn, and Duvall. Brian thinks there’s something strange going on on the ship. When one of the 5 senior officers appears, the crew mysteriously disappears. There is a box in the Sciencelab that can solve any problem. After having to use the box to create a cure for a deadly disease, Brian is sent to the bridge with specific instructions on how to present the information to Science Officer Queeng. After he delivers his information he and Finn run into a “yeti” who tells them to stay off the bridge if they want to survive.

Brian learns that anyone who isn’t one of the 5 senior officers has a tendency to die on away missions with alarming frequency. The crew is constantly looking for people to replace their murdered crew.

Brian needs to figure out what is happening, and decides to track down Jenkins, the “yeti” who lives in the bowels of the ship alerting crew when a senior officer is coming. Jenkins tells the 5 friends that they are on a poorly written SciFi television show. When they go on away missions or to the bridge they get sucked into the Narrative. Jenkins tells the friends that they are glorified extras because they come with backstory so that it will make viewers sad when they inevitably die. Finn doesn’t believe anything that Jenkins says, but after he and Brian go on an away mission with suspicious ties to Finn, he is killed and his dying words are for Brian to fix this.

Jenkins tells the friends they need to go back in time and confront the writers of the show, so the friends abduct Karensky (one of the senior staff) so that they can travel back in time. They find Brian and Karensky’s counterparts and get a meeting with the creator of the series. He doesn’t believe them until he sees Hestor, who looks just like his son who is in a coma. Together they figure out a way to save the son and convince the head writer to stop the senseless slaughter of background crew.

There are three endings: one from the writer’s POV, one from the son’s and one from the woman who had played Jenkins wife on the show.

Evaluation

Love, love, love! I wasn’t expecting it to be so meta, but it was pretty amazing. I really liked that they were on a show, and that they had to figure out who to stop themselves from being needlessly killed and that the creators of the show had to come to terms with what they were doing. The plot was great. I wasn’t expecting it to go in the direction it did, but that was nice. The characters were all three dimensional. You could feel the redshirts need to fix their situation, and even the people in the “present” were clearly motivated even though we didn’t get too much of them.

Especially for someone who liked Star Trek or was in any way familiar with something similar, this was believable. People not so familiar with the genre may have a little trouble with it, it can work with prior knowledge much better than without.

The main emotion I got out of this story was joy. It had some really touching moments: the third coda in specific, but mostly it was a fun romp that went into serious philosophical ideas.

I think SciFi fans would love this book. It plays on a lot of the tropes prevalent in the genre and turns them on their head. I think that the meta aspects of the book make it even more enjoyable for the reader. Flaws might be that the reader might not have wanted something meta and actually wanted the redshirts to have another explanation, but it doesn’t have many flaws writing wise.

Genre

Science Fiction, Metafiction, Humor

Readalikes

Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez

Phule’s Company by Robert Asprin

Significance

A great meta look at the tropes at play in one of the big names in SciFi entertainment. Very unique take on a Star Trek sort of universe.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Do you think the senior officers were aware of the tendency of the people around them to die at an alarming rate?

Let’s talk about meta.

What would you have done if you were a redshirt and aware that you were probably goin to die?

Author’s website

John Scalzi

Awards

Hugo Awards: Best Novel

Locus Awards: SF Novel

Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award – Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2012

Reviews

NY Times

Kirkus

Why I Chose It

I saw that it was about Star Trek ish things and had a mighty need to read it. Plus, great title.

Other Information

Foundation

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook $38.99
Paperback $7.19, $11.47
Hardback $20.52
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780553803716
9780553293357 — Paperback
9780307593962 — Hardcover
9780553382570 — Paperback
9780808520788 — Glued Binding
9780345336279 — Paperback
9780553628746 — Paperback
9781439507131 — Glued Binding
9780385188302 — Hardcover
9788497595018 — Paperback
9780345340887 — Paperback
9780553900347
9788401491368 — Paperback
9780606275637 — Glued Binding
9780586010808 — Paperback
9788484506928 — Paperback
9780905712611 — Hardcover
9780893402099 — Paperback
9780385237093
9780380001019 — Paperback

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 3P

A really well written book.

It is older, and most people in SciFi circles have probably already read it. It also doesn’t have much action in it.

Readers Annotation

Mankind is approaching another dark ages but the Foundation survives.

Summary

There are five parts to this story.

The first part is the origin of the Foundation. Harry Seldon rends for Gaal Dornick which leads to both of them being arrested. The Emperor asks what Seldon wants, because he doesn’t want his people on Trantor anymore. Seldon wants to send his people to both ends of the universe to compile a Galatic Encyclopedia before the dark times come. The Emperor agrees.

Fifty years later and the colony on Terminus is focused on producing the Encyclopedia. However, the neighboring planets wish to take over Terminus due to its strategic placement. The Encyclopedists don’t understand what’s going on, but Hardin does. Hardin tries to reason with the Encyclopedists, but in the end stages a coup to take over after they watch a holovid created by Harry Seldon telling them they have approached their first event.

Years later, Hardin is mayor of Terminus. He’s turned science into a religion. He finds himself up against the forces at home against him and from the planet Anacreon. The Anacreon prince and his uncle want to take over Terminus. Their plan fails when Hardin reveals that they cannot rise against Terminus because of Anacreon’s people’s beliefs in the religion of science.

Ponyets goes to Askone to free an imprisoned trader, a secret agent of the Foundation. While there he creates a solid trade with the Askonian ruler: common minerals for scientific baubels.

Hober Mallow must go to Korell.He almost falls prey to a trap, when the men on his ship take on a Foundation missionary. The Korellians do not want to be converted to the Foundation religion. Mallow fixes the situation and goes down to the surface to see if the Korellians can still run and fix their machinery. He sees that the guards have weapons with the symbol of the Galactic Empire. He leaves and heads for the center of the old Empire. He locates a former patrician and assesses. The patrician tells him about the empire’s problems, and gives him directions to a nuclear power plant. The plant still works, but Mallow discovers that the technicians, while knowing how to fix problems, know nothing about nuclear power.Mallow is put on trial infront of the council and relates his experiences. He is rewarded with a seat on the council.

Mallow, now mayor, is confronted by the Korellians attacking. He opts to do nothing and ponders the nature of the Seldon crisis and concludes that religion is a dead force.

Evaluation

I think I was expecting more Space Opera than I got for this one. This was a good book, and quite intriguing, but it wasn’t full of action. This was more of a political drama than anything. It was strangely compelling and I want to read the rest of the series.

Each mini political drama approached each problem in a different way. The way the characters manipulated the situations was amazing. The characters were all interesting and understandable. Each character’s motivations was clear, even though we didn’t spend much time with any of them. The setting was vast, and it could be a little hard to imagine where all the different planets were in space. It was a little hard to keep up with who hated who.

I think this might work for the audience, it just depends on what they’re looking for. If they’re looking for more action, this isn’t the book. If they’re looking for space political drama, it doesn’t get much better. It is a foundational (unintentional pun) book of the genre, so many people may have already read it. It can be a little hard to keep it all straight, but it skips time a lot so that’s to be expected.

Genre

Science Fiction, Space Opera

Readalikes

Ringworld by Larry Niven

Red Mars by Kin Stanley Robinson

Significance

One of the first big, popular Science Fiction novels by one of the biggest names in the game.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Which mayor did you like best?

Do you agree with Hardin’s cool judgements without emotion?

What did you think about the Encyclopedists?

Author’s website

Information on Isaac Asimov

Awards

 

 

Reviews

Kirkus

Amazon

Why I Chose It

This book/series is considered a cornerstone of the Science Fiction genre. I thought it was important to have read something of Asimov’s and this book seemed like the place to start.

Other Information

Kraken: An Anatomy

Bibliographic Information 

Audiobook  $39.98
Paperback $17.00
Hardback $17.00
Kindle $12.99
Associated ISBNs 9780345497499
9781596063372 — Hardcover
9780345521859 — E-Book

Rating (VOYA)

5Q, 4P

Really well written, plotted and thought through.

Who doesn’t want to read about a cult of Krakenists and the end of the world? Some people may not appreciate this book for what it is.

Readers Annotation

A Kraken has vanished. Billy Harrow discovers a world of magic to find it.

Summary

A Kraken has gone missing from a London Museum. It just vanished. No one knows how. Billy Harrow discovers it missing while giving a tour. The police question him. He mentions it to his friends at a pub that night. The next day he finds a body in a jar.

London’s magical police, the FRSC, try to recruit Billy as they tell him about the other side of London. Billy and his friend Leon run into the supremely creepy Goss and Subby, who kill Leon. Billy is rescued by Dane, a Krakenist.

Dane takes Billy to the Church of God Kraken, who think he’s a saint. They tell him he has a connection to the Kraken. Dane fights with the church, gets excommunicated and takes Billy with him. They’re looking for the Kraken.

Billy and Dane recruit Wati, a former grave idol turned Socialist who has been running a strike of magical familiars in London. Watty can inhabit anything with a face. They think that the Tatoo is behind everything. They track down the man who transported the Kraken after following his familiar (a tribble). The man is haunted by himself because every time he beamed himself somewhere he killed himself in the process. Billy, Dane and Watty run from Goss and Subby and go to the Londonmancers. Dane gets abducted by Chaos Nazis (hired by the Tatoo) and Billy and the Sea rescue him.

Meanwhile, Leon’s girlfriend Marge is looking for answers and the FRSC, lead by Barron, Collingworth and Vardy, are trying to solve the Kraken mystery and hunt Billy down.

Billy and Dane suspect that Grisamentum is behind everything. They find the Kraken, and abduct the man who wears the Tatoo. The Krakenists are attacked and Billy and Dane recruit the survivors to fight Grisamentum.

Marge gets a protective iPod. Marge meets the man with the Tatoo, who lures Goss and Subby to them. Wati gets smashed by Goss. Goss and Subby get killed. The police show up. They all go to find Billy.

Billy and Dane attack Grisamentum. Dane is killed. Everyone converges at the Embassy to the Sea. The Sea takes out Grisamentum. Grisamentum is not the one trying to end the world though…

Evaluation

This book is now one of my favorites. I loved this book so much I’m trying to convince everyone I know to read it. This is my favorite type of book: alternate magical universe. Its sarcastic, its weird, its over the top, its everything you could want in a book… plus a Kraken. China Mievelle said it was a book that he wrote “if one were to take a cult of Kraken seriously.” Love this book.

The plot is complicated and messy, and just right. You get just the right amount of information at the right time. The characters are wonderful. I became very attached to Wati. They’re all different and every the nebulous Grisamentum is pretty well fleshed out even though he’s not mentioned too much. Magical, unseen London is pretty great. It was one of the stars of this book.

I think people would love this book. Its a fun romp, with a satisfying ending, and plenty of interesting world building. It could cross over to mainstream readers.

I think I love this book too much to see any flaws.

The audiobook is really amazing, especially when they get to Marge’s magical iPod.

Genre

Urban fantasy, Weird fiction

Readalikes

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Significance

A cult of Kraken taken seriously? Great characters in an interesting alternate reality?

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Discuss Dane and his motivations.

Favorite magical entity/religion?

What did you think of Magical London?

Author’s website

China Mieville

Awards

Library Journal Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books

Locus Awards: Fantasy Novel

Reviews

Kirkus

NY Times

Why I Chose It

I chose this book for its title. I didn’t need to know anything else, I knew it would be great.

Other Information