Friday, February 3, 2017

Armada by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline does it again! Armada is just as amazing and nerd-loving as Ready Player One. I could happily live in any of Cline's worlds. Ernest Cline is now on my list of most beloved authors and I will read everything he ever publishes over and over.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
See You on the Other Side, Ray

Armada follows the story of Zack Lightman, who is a lover of all things video games and 80's. However, he is now worried that he may have the same mental disorder his father had since he swears he saw a UFO flying around outside of his school. To worry him even more, he swears that it the same exact space craft that is used in his favorite video game, Armada. But he knows that video games aren't real, no matter what the ramblings of his deceased father said, right?

(Source: Giphy)
As it turns out, there is a sense of truth behind the journals that Zack's father left behind. For the last four decades, the Earth Defense Alliance, a top secret global military coalition, has been monitoring the best video game players across the world so that when the Europans, an alien life force from planet Europa, come to destroy the world, they will have unlimited support and a chance at survival. Well, that time has come and Zack is one of the Top 10 players in the game Armada, making him one of the most useful people in the fight to defend planet Earth.

However, the Europans aren't Zack's only problem. Over the course of just a few days, Zack learns the truth about his father, travels to the moon, and has to figure out who the good guys and bad guys really are. 

(Source: Giphy)
Nice Working With You, Dr. Venkman

  • I always try to do the bullet points in order with the book, but this one part needs to be talked about right away because I have been holding it in. When Zack's dad comes home (because spoiler, he's alive) and he is reunited with his dog, I felt everything!!!! I was crying while driving through traffic because every single heart string was pulled, even more so than him being reunited with his wife.
"I heard barking, and a second later, Muffit burst out of his doggie door. The old beagle barked and bounded down the front steps and across the front lawn, moving faster than he had in years.
"Muffit!" my father cried, breaking off his embrace with my mother to greet the ancient dog, just a second before Muffit somehow summoned the strength to bound into my kneeling father's lap.
"Oh, it's so good to see you, boy!" he said as Muffit showered his face with kisses. "I missed you, boy! Did you miss me?
Muffit barked happily in reply, then continued to shower my dad with saliva. It had never once occurred to me to wonder whether our dog remembered my father-after all, Muffit had been just a puppy when he disappeared." (p. 303)

(Source: Giphy)
  • While there aren't as many 1980's references in Armada as there were in Ready Player One, they're still there, adding a lighter note to the stressful story of aliens are real and are going to come and destroy us. Bonus: Cline includes the Raid the Arcade Mix in the back on the book, so you too can listen to all of the classics while saving the (hopefully) fictional world of whatever game you're playing. 
  • The ending had me a little down. As it turns out, the entire war was just a text by a peaceful civilization know as the Sodality, and the Emissary is just a machine that  tests other civilizations to see if they make the right decision (choosing to communicate) or wrong decision (entering battle). And had it not been for the brilliant mind of Zack's father, and Zack believing in a man who he's never known, Earth would have been destroyed. Still, there were casualties, one of whom was Xavier Ulysses Lightman, Zack's father. And this time, he really was dead.
(Source: Giphy)
  • The geek gets the girl again!
"As promised, Lex took me out on our first date...
Lex moved to town with her grandmother,..." (p. 345)

(Source: Giphy)
It always bothers me when parents die in books, especially when it didn't have to be necessary. Yes, Xavier saved the world, but why couldn't he have pretend died again? Or been on the brink of death and brought back, because that's already happened to him as well. Zack only had a few days with his father, and they were spent in battle. Yes, he gained a little brother out of it (and no, I don't blame his parents for going at it; if it had been 17 years since I'd seen the love of my life, I'd act the same way), but that is now one more kid growing up without a father.

Still though, the book is wonderful, and I know that I will read it a million times over. And I will always cry when Xavier and Muffit are reunited, because I'm an animal lover.

Oh! And if anyone wants to get the audiobook version of Armada or Ready Player One, I strongly recommend them! They are read by Wil Wheaton and he does the most wonderful job!

(Source: Giphy)
Raid the Arcade Mix Side A:
  1. One Vision-Queen
  2. Crazy Train-Ozzy
  3. Chase the Ace-AC/DC
  4. Hair of the Dog-Nazareth
  5. Get it On (Bang a Gong)-The Power Station
  6. Old Enough to Rock and Roll-Rainey Haynes
  7. Danger Zone- Kenny Loggins
  8. Vital Signs-Rush
  9. Barracuda-Heart
  10. TNT-AC/DC
  11. You Really Got Me-Van Halen
  12. Another One Bites the Dust-Queen
  13. One of these Days-Pink Floyd
  14. Top Gun Anthem-Harold Faltermeyer
Side B:
  1. I Hate Myself for Loving You-Joan Jett
  2. It Takes Two-Rob Base
  3. Hammer to Fall-Queen
  4. Twilight Zone-Golden Earring
  5. We're Not Gonna Take It-Twisted Sister
  6. Rock You Like a Hurricane-Scorpions
  7. Black Betty-Ram Jam
  8. D.T.-AC/DC
  9. Delirious-ZZ Top
  10. Iron Eagle-King Kobra
  11. Run's House-Run-DMC
  12. We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions-Queen
Bonus Track: Snoopy vs. The Red Barron-The Royal Guardsmen

Rating: 9.5/10
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron is a pretty easy read, in my opinion. I wasn't really sure of where it was going; the only thing I knew about the plot was that people lost their memories, except for this one girl, so I knew it would be somewhat dystopian. It also ends up having some sci-fi qualities that make it stand out from other dystopian novels that I've read in the past. When it was all said and done, I was pleased with the book.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
Forget Me Not

The story takes place in the city of Canaan where you see most of its citizen walking around with a book attached to them. This book is their life story-literally. They must write the truth of their lives as it happens, because every 12 years, you forget everything, and your book is what helps you remember. Nadia is special though. She did not forget anything from the forgetting when she was young. She remembers every detail of her father stealing her book, saving another boy from having his book burned, and how her father now has a new life. Her mother and sisters have no memory of this. 

(Source: Giphy)
Canaan is under strict control, but this does not stop Nadia from climbing the wall that surrounds the city and exploring, just as long as she is back by the time resting is over and her mother can see that all of her children are in bed. But on her most recent excursion over the wall, someone saw her. Grey, the boy whose book and life she saved, is now threatening Nadia to take him over the wall or he will turn her in. Begrudgingly, she agree. But she soon learns that she does not regret it. Grey and Nadia bond, and she eventually tells him that she never forgot and tells him the story of how he got the burns on his hands, something he never knew.

"You didn't know I was with the Lost," he says, "and you didn't see me after the Forgetting. I know you didn't. I hid, and I would have remembered. But you know where I was burned. And you say you know who I am..."
I'm afraid. Afraid to my core. I can see Gray's quick mind working, turning the problem inside and out.
"I was burned before the Forgetting," he says. "But you know." And then he goes completely still again, a tree without wind, and says two simple words: "You remember." (p. 66)

But the city of Canaan is not perfect, nor are its citizens. Nadia's older sister, Liliya, does not believe that Nadia is really her sister, no matter what the books say. And there is an extreme food shortage that is leaving less influential families starving. Nadia and Gray at first suspect one of the council members, Johnathan, to be behind the turmoil. However, when they discover a secret room in a mountain filled with items they have never imagined, pieces of how their city came to be begin to come together, and they learn that life as they know it is a lie, and that the people designated to rule over them are more corrupt than ever imagined. It is up to Nadia and Gray to save the citizens of Canaan before the approaching Forgetting causes Gray to forget, or before Nadia is taken out by the one person she never expected. 

(Source: Giphy)
Made of Memories
  • The thing that drew me to this book was its uniqueness. I have not read other books where an entire population regularly loses their memories. In a world where everything is a recreation of something else, it's nice when someone finds an idea that hasn't been explored and exploited. 
"I have forgotten.
When I first opened my eyes I saw a room of white stone, and the light was brights, too bright, coming into the room from two high windows. I have never been so afraid. I don't know this room. I don't know this girl who woke with me, or these children who cry, their faces streaked with black lines. They've forgotten, too. But this book was tied to my wrist, and the book says I have a family, and that my family will be marked with dye so I'll know them. I think I have to believe this book.

There is violence outside. We've barred the door. I don't know what else is outside this room, but I think there are more of us, and that they did not wake up with a book. I want to scream like they are. I want to cry like the children. I want to claw my own skin and find out what's buried inside. I want to know who I've been.

The book says I knew this Forgetting would come. That it's happened before and will happen again. We have to write it all down. Everything about us, as the book has told me to do now. The children with the marks on their cheeks run from me. I think I am their mother. I will read them this book. I'll tell them their names and I will tell myself min.

We are made of our memories. Now we are nothing. It feels like death.

What have we done to deserve this piece of hell?

The First Book of the Forgetting
Page 41" (p. i)
  • The characters are interesting, and there is great character development throughout the book. Pay attention to the characters that seem as if they don't play a large part in the plot, they're the ones with the best stories.
  • Cameron does an amazing job of describing Nadia and Gray's discovery of the room in the mountain and how they react to items they've never seen or heard of. We have grown up in a world filled with technology and electricity. Canaan has none of that. Their most technologically advanced piece is a clock tower; everything else is done by hand, made by hand, and technology isn't even a semblance of a thought, so I honestly cannot imagine a world where I don't flip on a light switch when I walk into a room. But Cameron's writing style puts you right there with them, discovering items for the first time and having no clue what they're for or how they work.
"I pick up the clothes. For a man or woman close to my height, I think, cloth sewn into one large combination of loose leggings and shirt with the whole front open, the huge gap edged with tiny teeth of metal. It doesn't look every modest, or useful, in my opinion, but the cloth is extremely fine." (p. 209)

"I nearly fall on the floor. The chair is moving, and at first I'm afraid it's moving by itself, like everything else, but then I realize the chair is on wheels on a very smooth floor. I'm halfway across the room spinning in a circle before I know what hit me. I let myself slow to a stop. Gray is watching me, brows up. I put down my feet and spin myself on purposed. It's a little like swimming, or sliding, but not really like either." (p. 212)
  • Everything wraps up in a neat little bow in the end, however, I was not satisfied with this. They have learned that there is a whole other planet where people are living, and yet, they want to stay on Canaan? The find the spaceship that brought the first people here, but they don't want to explore it? It just didn't seem believable and felt a little rushed.
(Source: Giphy)
Honestly, the ending was the worst for me. The entire book builds up to this moment where everyone learns that Janis, the leader of the council and sweet old lady, is actually evil and vindictive and has been stealing everyone's memories for stars know how long and I'm supposed to believe that because she's killed and everyone's memory has been restored that they're totally cool with resting on their laurels? Yes, Nadia and Gray go outside the walls to explore, but they did that before, so they aren't doing anything new. Curiosity is in every humans nature. I know that seems like a silly thing to be upset about, but it just didn't feel like the right ending.

But like previously stated, I love when an author brings a new plot to life before my eyes. In a world where everything is a re-write of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, among others, I love a fresh plot. It's not easy to do, and it's not easy to do well, but Sharon Cameron did a wonderful job at it and it definitely makes me want to read more by her.

Rating: 7/10
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction