Book review: Ender’s Game

I was waiting for some books that I had ordered to arrive and decided to re-read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  The last time I read it was when I was in middle school or high school so I only vaguely remembered it when I took The Kid to see the movie recently (the movie was decent – you should see it).

The basic plot of the story is that the world is threatened by aliens called “buggers.”  Little is known about these aliens other than that they greatly outnumber humans so, in desperation, the government is training children to go to war by using games, consisting of both computer simulations and group games.  They monitor the children with devices, picking the most promising children to go through more intensive training to become officers.  In this futuristic world, families only have 1-2 children due to the overpopulation problem and religious belief is seen as backwards thinking.  From the beginning, Ender is an outcast.  Ender’s oldest brother was dismissed from the training because he was too violent.  The second child, his sister, Valentine, was dismissed for being to pacifist.  He is the third child, an embarrassment, even though the government gave his parents permission to have a third child due to how intelligent the other 2 children were.

From the beginning, the reader knows that Ender is being manipulated … and Ender knows that he is being manipulated, but that doesn’t change the outcome of the choices made.  He is taken from his family at 6-years-old and trained to be the one who saves humankind from the aliens.  There is an imminent threat – time is running out – his training is rushed, but he must succeed because if he doesn’t everyone could die, including his family.

You can read this book in several ways:  you could read this book as a distopian warning and it would be a decent read; you could read it simply for the plot and it would be a good read – a nice science fiction adventure story; or you could also read this book as a study of personalities, human nature, and group mentality and it would be a great read.

Book Review: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography is a cute idea and brought back some fun memories of those Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Unfortunately, I received the ebook version and it doesn’t seem to work properly.

I tried another e-book that was similar to this once.  It didn’t work at all.  The text said to turn to page XX.  Unfortunately, the pages in the text didn’t match up with the e-book version.  I was so excited when I saw that in this e-book, they had hyperlinks.  YES, I thought!  A publisher who gets that ebooks are becoming more popular!  Alas, my excitement was premature.  Many of the links take you to the same page.  For example, at the beginning of the book, when NPH has readers choose between a happy childhood or a miserable childhood, guess what?  The hyperlinks lead to the same page.  Then, when the reader tries to choose between exploring the world of theater, learning magic, or practicing a speech for the Optimist Club, guess what?  Same thing.  No matter what you choose, you end up on the speech page.

At first, I thought that maybe that this was on purpose.  Maybe it’s meant to be ironic – you really don’t get to choose.  However, ALL of the “choices” of hyperlinks in the e-book seem to be lead to only one page.  If it’s on purpose, it’s stupid because it defeats the purpose of the book and the joke is only funny when you do it 1-2 times.  If it’s not on purpose, it’s also stupid because the publishers didn’t check the hyperlinks.

I went through and “cheated” so that I could read more of the autobiography since I wasn’t getting anywhere with picking my own adventure.  The writing was okay – humorous at times, but a bit self-centered (as is the case with most autobiographies).

If you are going to read this book, do NOT get the e-book.  It doesn’t work properly.

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book through Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review of this book.

book review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is the second John Green book I’ve read.  I saw the movie recently and ended up liking it more than I thought I would so I decided to give the book a shot.  The movie follows the book pretty closely so even if you read the book first, you probably won’t be disappointed in the movie.

The book is told from Hazel’s point of view.  Hazel is a 16-year-old girl with stage 4 cancer.  Her character was somewhat inspired by Esther Earl, to whom the book is dedicated.  In interviews, John Green says that he has trouble answering questions about whether Hazel is supposed to be Esther.  He says sort of.  He had been writing a book about cancer when he met Esther, but Hazel’s cancer is the same type as Esther’s.  The author also said that Esther’s death motivated him to write and write until this book was finished.  However, the character’s personalty is different from Esther’s and the plot is fictional.

This is a drama book, not a mystery.  The ending is not surprising; it’s about how you get there.

The best part about this book is that it was believable.  The dialogues and other conversations between the characters were realistic.  The relationship issues between Hazel and her parents, Hazel and Gus, Hazel and her other friends, were demonstrative of how much insight the author has into how cancer/dying affects lives.  The characters aren’t perfect, but they’re just the way the should be.  The dialogue is clever, but in a fun way, not in a coffee-house-frequenting-slim-cigarette-smoking-snooty-I-insult-everyone-and-the-world-sucks kind of way.

My favorite part was the bit where Hazel talks about infinities.  There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1, there are more infinite numbers between 0 and 2 … This bit summed up the book for me.  It’s what you do with what you have.

My biggest disappointment is that the book mentioned in the book, An Imperial Affliction, is not a real book.  That seems almost cruel … kinda like ending a book in the middle of a

Book Review: Doctor Who: The Blood Cell

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell was an easy, fast read.  The book started out slowly, but got better towards the end.  Honestly, if I weren’t already a Doctor Who fan, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  The book is told in first person from the point of view of the governor of a prison on an asteroid/ship.

In this book, Doctor Who was a prisoner, trying to convince the governor that he is trying help.  Something on the ship is killing people and it’s up to the Doctor to, not only convince the Governor that he’s innocent of the crimes, but to also save everyone on the ship.  The biggest problem with this book is that none of the characters are sympathetic.  I found myself not particularly caring about what happened to the characters.  I didn’t like them, but I didn’t dislike them enough to see them fail either.  The story was too plot-centered.  Unfortunately, the plot wasn’t good enough to carry the book.  It was overly convoluted and a bit ridiculous, even for a science fiction book.

The use of deus ex machina in the form of Clara was disappointing.

Despite my criticisms of the book, it wasn’t horrible.  It read like fan fiction.  If you come in to it with that frame of mind, you probably won’t be disappointed.  All in all, though, I’d rather watch an episode of the television show.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Blogging for Books.

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I try not to read much about a book before reading the actual book. That way, I can form my own opinions.  If I find a book interesting, I usually look up information about the book afterwards.  Most of the time, I’m glad that I do things this way because it makes books more interesting.  It helped me with this book.  If you haven’t read this book yet, stop here.  Don’t read any reviews on it.  Just start reading the book.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a fictional novel written by John Green and David Levithan.  John Green is the same author who wrote the very popular “The Fault in Our Stars.”  (I read “Will Grayson” before I read or saw any movies based on books by John Green.)  I was impressed.  The book is told in first person narrative.  What I didn’t know (but should have guessed from the title) is that there were two teenage characters named Will Grayson.  At first, I was confused because one of the Wills talked about living with only his mom and the other Will talked about both parents.  I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a flashback or if he had some sort of mental disorder (I’ve probably been reading too many books on psychopaths and sociopaths lately) or if he was trying to live in some sort of fantasy world.  One of the Wills is straight and the other is gay.  They meet when the two end up in the same store and are surprised that they both have the same name.  The gay Will was in the closet and was meeting an online friend that he had been corresponding with for the first time.

I won’t give away anymore of the plot, but I’ll talk about some of the things that I liked.  The book had a parallel universe sort of feel to it.  I’m sure everyone has had moments where they think about what their world would be like if they had been born a little different or had made a different decision.  It was interesting to see the two worlds “meet.”  It wasn’t truly a parallel universe because the two boys were different people, but I still found myself thinking about parallel universes often throughout the book.  The book also had a nice message.  It was a bit Saturday-morning-public-service-announcementy, but heck, the world would be a better place if we practiced some of those public service announcements.

This book is geared more towards teens, but if you’re like me, that won’t stop you.