While perusing my favorite time-wasting website, I saw a teaser for an upcoming movie called “the Hunger Games“. It gave away nothing. Yet a symbol that appeared at the end was apparently enough to arise excitement in those who knew what it stood for. So I found the book and read it, purely on the basis of how epic the movie trailer looked. I wasn’t disappointed.
The story takes place in a post civil war United States, now called Panem. There are 12 remaining districts (like states) and a capital that controls them all. Each district provides some product for the capitals use (ie: fish, grain, coal, clothing, etc…), but otherwise live in an occupied poverty. And each year to remind the districts of the civil war, and how they lost, one boy and one girl (between the ages of 12-18) from each district must go and fight in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are cruel televised games that show these children killing each other until there is only one left. That survivor is called the victor, and they go home to a life of luxury and wealth (compared to what they grew up with) back in their districts. (If you want more explanation, just watch the trailer above.)
Immediately I enjoyed the setting. Underdogs, oppressed people, heart-ache, and passion. I was eager to see how the games unfolded. They were intense, terrifying (just the idea of kids killing each other for sport alone), not to mention the way the “game makers” made the game more interesting. I was admittedly disappointed at the direction by the time the conclusion rolled around. I wanted to see something bigger, a story that stretched out further beyond the main characters, as was set-up by the wonderful description of the country. But then I learned that it has two more books in the series. I was no longer disappointed. Nor will you be.
A friend told me I should read this book called “Ender’s Game” because it was amazing and epic. So I did, because if a friend asks you to read something and you don’t read it…what kind of friend are you (I’m laying it on thick because that friend hasn’t read “Ready Player One” on my recommendation yet)? So when I saw this new book from Orson Scott Card (the author of “Ender’s Game”) I decided to go for round two.
It takes place in modern day but assumes all mythic heroes were real, and born of families from another world. These powers would be specified in different branches of magic. Some might control a type of animal, others may harness the power of fire, and yet others may only be able to make flowers grow more easily (obviously some powers were better than others). Depending on your power and your place in the hierarchy of your family you could be given the name of the heroes of old. So there is a living Thor (not the original but the most powerful of his kind) an Oden (named so by being leader of the North family) and so on.
Traveling through the great gates from Earth to their original planet multiplied their powers which allowed them to rule over humans in the days of old. But generations ago the last Loki hid all the great gates causing all of the families’ powers to corrode, until they seemed to be capable of little more than magic tricks.
This is where you enter the story with Oden’s son who has passed the age where his powers should have arrived, but they haven’t. I immediately liked the concept of the underdog outcast. I love the history. I love the explanations, it is a well-thought-out “Esau’s Fable” of mythology. The story takes you places that you won’t expect, and will surely leave you wanting the next book to come out (like I am right now). It isn’t the best book I’ve read this year but it is a good read for those that like fantasy that has a little substance to it.
Typically I read books that have been recommended to me. I rarely find myself picking up a book because the cover looked good or the paragraph description alone convinced me that I wouldn’t want to kick a dog mid-way-through the book. And after a very disappointing recommendation to read “Twilight” I was frustrated, to say the least. But I have a daily commute that was swallowing large portions of my day, and needed something besides my 4 CD’s to keep me sane.
So I found an audio book that was narrated by Will Wheaton, and about an MMO video game that first changed, then took over the internet. That alone was enough to make my nipples harden, but then I found the plot; that the creator of said video game left billions to whoever could find his easter egg hidden within the game. Easy enough, except that this guy was an 80′s freak, and to find his egg you needed to like what he liked. Beat the games he beat growing up. Watch the movies he watched. And most importantly think like he thought.
What happens when you mix “the Matrix” with “the Goonies” and throw in tons of Monty Python and John Hughes lines along with video game references that even the most avid gamers have to look up from time-to-time? You get one of the greatest slumber parties I’ve ever thrown, or you get “Ready Player One”. I’ll admit, after I finished I was hoping (more than a little) that this would end up being a trilogy… but alas, no such luck. I guess I’ll just have to read it again.