Book Spotlight: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Reviewed by: Phil, librarian, Cloverdale Branch

Synopsis: In the not-so-distant future the world flat-out sucks; life is hard for most, including teen Wade Watts, who spends most of his time plugged into the virtual reality multi-verse OASIS. Though most use OASIS to escape the harsh reality of 2044, Wade is an ardent Gunter – a term given to those trying to solve a seemingly unsolvable multi-part puzzle devised by one the creators of OASIS. Whoever solves the puzzle will inherit the entirety of OASIS and become one of the richest people in the world. Some Gunters are strict soloists, while others have banded together to form guilds. These competing factions have toiled for years to solve the puzzle to no avail – that is until Wade happens to solve the first part. Suddenly the quest to solve the puzzle reaches a fever pitch, and the game becomes deadly serious. When Gunters start dying in real life it becomes apparent that a sinister force is willing to go to extremes to reach the prize. Wade knows that he is in serious jeopardy. The question is: Will he solve the puzzle before they get to him?         

Why I picked it up: Alex Award (best adult book for teens) winner, and very highly recommended.

Why I finished it: Without a doubt the most fun book that I have read in the past year. It was absolutely impossible to put down.

I'd recommend it to: Gamers, science fiction and adventure tale enthusiasts, as well as 1980’s pop culture fanatics. Even if you don’t generally read in those genres, this book is just plain fun!

Book Spotlight: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt:  a novel in pictures by Caroline Preston

Review by Rachel, Librarian at Rincon Valley

This unusual and delightful novel tells the story to Frances "Frankie" Pratt, a young woman who grew up in New Hampshire in the early 20th Century.  After Frankie's graduation from high school in 1920 she uses a scrapbook and her father's old Corona typewriter to compile memorabilia and stories from her life.  Each full color page of the scrapbook shows a collage of mementos from 1920's that carefully tell the story of Frankie Pratt's transition from her teen years to adulthood.  A charming story with vivid characters, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt reveals a time in history that reminds us that anything is possible when you follow your dreams.  Highly recommended!


Alex Awards!

Every year YALSA publishes a list of books that were marketed to adults but have teen appeal.  So, if you want to wander into the adult world of reading here are a few titles start with.

Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
With a singing voice that can shake an auditorium, Judy should be the star of Darcy Academy, the local performing arts high school. So why is a girl this promising hiding out in a seedy motel room on the edge of town? A scathingly funny and moving book about dreams and reality, at once light on its feet and profound.

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard
Along with her best friend, the fourteen-year-old narrator navigates a 1970s American girlhood, including challenges from popular girls and the first hints of womanhood.

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
A modern love story told through a series of dictionary-style entries is a sequence of intimate windows into the large and small events that shape the course of a romantic relationship.

The New Kids:  Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser
Freelance writer Hauser tracks the staff and students at the International High School at Prospect Heights in Brooklyn, N.Y., providing their personal histories as well as their day-to-day experiences.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future–the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday's fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline."–Chris Schluep, Amazon Best Book of the Month

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Two decades into the future humans are battling for their very survival when a powerful AI computer goes rogue, and all the machines on earth rebel against their human controllers.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt:  A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston
For her graduation from high school in 1920, Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook and her father's old Corona typewriter. Despite Frankie's dreams of becoming a writer, she must forgo a college scholarship to help her widowed mother. But when a mysterious Captain James sweeps her off her feet, her mother finds a way to protect Frankie from the less-than-noble intentions of her unsuitable beau. Through a kaleidoscopic array of vintage postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus, and more, we meet and follow Frankie on her journey in search of success and love.

The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo
Raised by parents so intentionally isolated that they speak their own hybrid dialect, abused youth Marjorie witnesses her parents' submission to a sadistic cult leader before she is rescued by another abuse survivor who teaches her stoneworking skills.