The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter is such a fun take on the "classic horror" genre! I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. Theodora Goss does a great job hearkening back to the classics while still creating a fresh and fun new story. I was worried that I would be unhappy with how the classics were treated...I mean, there's a reason why they are classic stories, you know? I worried for nothing, though, because Goss did well. There were all the elements from the classic horror stories while learning about the new characters -- the daughters of these famous "monsters".
If I had one complaint with the story, it was the character asides sprinkled liberally throughout the book. I listened to the audio version of this story and was not initially aware that Goss was utilizing this tool to help build her characters. Mixed in with the story are snippets of dialogue from the characters after all the drama went down...their voices as they "proof" the written text of the story. It was a strange literary device and, to be honest, it threw me for a bit of a loop. I wonder if the written text has some visual way of noting that these were asides and not part of the immediate plot? In the audiobook version there is no warning or break...the narrator veers off into these out-of-story character asides with no differentiating between them and the main story. It was confusing at first and took a while to get used to. I eventually did get used to this device...but it took some time and I was not a huge fan of it for about the first fifty percent of the book.
That minor irritant aside, I do appreciate the risk that Goss took in writing her story this way. I think it ultimately paid off to help create more vivid characters. We didn't have to spend as much time in the story itself creating these characters...the off-shoot narratives helped do that.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daugher is such a fun read and I would easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys the classic monster-horror genre.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This was an epic, epic book. Ready Player One is pretty much an anthology of all the pop culture references from the 1980s.
I tackled this book in a hybrid form. I snagged the audiobook from my online library without really knowing what it was about - I just knew the book was everywhere. What made me go ahead and pick out the audiobook was because it was read by Wil Wheaton.
Let me just say - Wil Wheaton did a fantastic job with the audiobook. Your enjoyment (or lack thereof) of an audiobook can really hinge on the narrator. Wheaton really was excellent.
So, when I started the audiobook I had no clue what the book was even really about other than the title sounded "gamer-ish". Imagine my surprise when a book chock full of 1980s nostalgia with an engrossing plot emerged.
And when I say the book is chock full of nostalgia...I mean it's crammed into every page, paragraph, and sentence. Cline would throw one reference at you...and then you'd get backhanded by another reference. There were moments it was almost too much. Almost. Cline does a masterful job of combining the 80s nostalgia with the overarching plot...so, the book doesn't devolve into a 1980s trivia game, but rather each piece of nostalgia is part of the whole story. It really is well done.
Unfortunately, I am the world's slowest audiobook listener (this audiobook probably took me a solid 4 weeks to get through) and I ran out of time with the library. But by that point my eyes had been opened and I realized this was definitely a new favorite - so I added the print copy to my library and finished it off within the day.
So what's the book about? I'm going to let the publisher's blurb do the talking on this one. Definitely add this one to your reading bucket list.
Here's the blurb for you:
"It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?"
Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg
I really enjoyed Nerd Do Well. When I saw that it was in audiobook form andnarrated by Simon Pegg...well, I had to give it a try. I'm glad I did. It was interesting to hear about Pegg's formative years and Pegg's humor made it all-around entertaining.
I knocked it down a star because...well...I just didn't like the sci-fi story. Pegg intersperses his memoir's chapters with brief interludes of a fictional sci-fi story that features a remarkably similar Simon Pegg. The story started out entertaining and humorous, but I just lost interest as the story wore on. It almost felt like the sci-fi story was just filler to make the book a little thicker.
If you are a self-avowed geek/nerd/Simon Pegg fan/whatever then definitely give this book a whirl. I'd recommend the audiobook version simply because of the narration...it's almost like a prolonged narration like you would hear in one of Pegg's movies like Shaun of the Dead.