Here are three short reviews of books that I read in June and really enjoyed. They are all really different from each other, a contemporary YA, an adult thriller and a science fiction sequel. But all books that I would recommend that you pick up and read. Hopefully at least one will appeal to you!
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Publication date: May 13, 2014
“We looked at the sky. So many stars, it seemed like a celebration, a grand, illicit party the galaxy was holding after the humans had been put to bed.”
The first thing I want to say is how beautifully it was written. It was so hard to find a single quote to use. I also just loved the little fairy tales that were woven into the story, they were all so perfect in helping me to understand the main character Cadence and all of her suffering. I was right there with her as she tried to piece together her past and what had happened when she last visited the island. I have to admit that I did not see the whole truth until I was slapped in the face with it. It was so well done.
Cadence is such a tragic young lady who is haunted by her past, has health issues with migraines and is in love with a boy that she only sees for a short time each summer. The story is told only from her perspective and because of her memory issues she is not totally reliable. I liked the relationships she had with her family and especially with her cousins.
I really enjoyed the other characters, especially the other Liars, but also Cadence’s family. I really liked Gat though. As an outsider who was also to a limited extent a member of the family, he often had an interesting take on the family and would often say things that made Cadence stop and think.
The plot of the story is so well done, with current happenings mixed with flashbacks and again those lovely little fairy tales. Although I never quite felt it was a mystery, Cadence’s need to figure out what happened to her the last time she was on the island was certainly a huge part of the story. Again, I never quite saw that ending coming, but when it did I looked back at the story and saw all of those little hints of the truth.
This is an older book, but one worth reading if you haven’t. It is a perfect beach read and one that will be hard to put down once you start.
East of Hounslow by Kurrum Rahman
Publication Date: July 28, 2020 (originally published 2017)
I’m not sure exactly what the story is behind this book being republished recently, I think it was only released in the UK and is now making its way to the states, but what ever the reason I am so glad I finally found it.! This is one of the best thrillers I have read lately with believable characters, a plot that is plausible, and a pace that will keep you turning those pages until you reach that heart stopping conclusion.
Jay is such an endearing and great character. He can be funny and smart and his life is totally fine with him. But once he gets involved with MI5 his quiet life will never be the same. I really appreciated how well Jay was able to articulate his thoughts and feelings about being muslim and being torn by understanding where the terrorists where coming from and knowing what they are doing is wrong. He got in deep quickly and had a hard time getting out.
The plot of the story is certainly a page turner as all thrillers tend to be. But there is also a bit of dark comedy throughout this book. Jay’s relationships with his two childhood friends, Idris and Parvez are totally opposite. Idris is a detective and doesn’t understand how Jay is changing. Parvez is not at all how he seems either as Jay soon discovers.
It is amazing to me that this is a debut book, it is so well written with a fresh and unique style and voice. It is gritty, but the characters are all very realistic, the story is totally plausible (to an extent) and there is a little bit of a twist that while was a little predictable was still well executed. If you like thrillers, especially ones that touch on the issues of today this in one that you really need to pick up.
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
Publication Date: November 24, 2020
“Through sheer force of will and brainpower, he’d once again turned science fiction into science fact, without much regard for the long-term consequences.”
Like many people, I read Ready Player One when it first came out almost 10 years ago now and loved it. I was also thrilled like many when a sequel was announced, although a bit confused as I thought the story was done and didn’t need more. So I was a little unsure of this new story going in, and while I liked it, I didn’t feel the same as when I read the first book.
The plot of this one takes place mostly three years after the events of the first book. There are a few chapters at the start of the book that covers what happens in those three years, mainly the discovery of new technology that makes the Oasis experience even more lifelike. A new challenge/quest is set when this tech is sent out into the world and of course Wade is soon involved in completing it.
The basic plot of this story, the quest and the consequences of this new technology, were fine and very engaging and at times even thought provoking. The book, however gets bogged down in the minutiae of 80’s trivia. Don’t get me wrong I loved some of the worlds they visited like the one dedicated to John Hughes movies or Prince. But the amount of detail in describing these worlds and all of the trivia involved really slowed down the pacing and made you lose the point of the whole reason they were even there. I remembered there being lots of trivia in the first book too, but I remember that it often helped the story, not hindered it.
The characters from book one are all here too, but there doesn’t seem to have been much growth for any of them. Wade is still the geeky tech addicted nerd he was in the first book. There were a couple of new characters that I really liked though, especially L0hengrin. I really would have liked to have seen more of her and her crew, maybe a short story about a side quest they do in this book. That would be awesome.
I think if you were a fan of the first book, you should give this one a shot. It does pale a bit in comparison to the first, but it has some good parts too. I liked some of the messages in this one about social media and addiction, but also the comments about society as a whole.