Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Marissa Meyer: Cinder

Marissa Meyer takes the classic fairy tale of Cinderella and puts her own futuristic spin on it:

Cinder is a Cyborg and as a Cyborg she is seen as a second class citizen. She works as a mechanic to support her step-mother, step sisters and household. Cinder loves being a mechanic and has dreams of her own of fleeing from New Beijing and her circumstances, she just needs to find the right time. However, everything changes when her youngest step sister contracts the deadly plague that his haunting the Earth and Cinder's stepmother blames her for it. Cinder's life is her stepmother's to do with as she pleases and she wants Cinders to suffer and will do anything to see that happen. Cinder knows that she has to escape but everything changes when she meets Prince Kia and his quest to protect to Earth from the Lunar threat above. Cinder is going to have to make some hard choices and some of them are going to hit hard at home.

This book is a perfect read for readers who are of Young Adult age as it is not extremely heavy on romance aspects it is like a teenage crush and there is no violence in this book. Although this book and cover make it seem like this book is a retelling of Cinderella. I would say that it is very loosely based on that fairy tail and Meyer has given it a steam punk futuristic twist. I liked that it was only loosely based as we all know the Cinderella story and this allowed Meyer to do add some of her own elements to the story,especially when your main character is a cyborg and the addition of a plague that is haunting the Earth.

The Lunar angle was also interesting, that the people from the Moon have these mind control powers and want anyone killed who can resist them (insecure much). Although I do not think this part was explored fully in the book I think that this was done on purpose and more will come to light in the next books. I could just felt like there was more that the Lunar Queen and people were hiding. I mean why do they really need the Earth when they have the moon? I hope in one of the books in this series we actually get to go to the Moon.

I'm on the fence with Cinder. I loved that she was a Cyborg and a mechanic, such a cool idea, and that she is not really girly girly, though this seems to change as soon as a boy is introduced. I think that is one of my main problems with Cinder is that it feels like she changes (what she can) for the Prince, is ashamed of who she is as a cyborg because of the Prince and makes some not so smart decisions that not only affects her but others around her. I get that she is a teenager, I just wish she was a little stronger and a little more comfortable with who she is and not just want to change it for a boy.

Prince Kia annoyed me on many occasions but I guess the reasons that he annoyed me had to do with the fact that he was a spoiled prince and that was just in his character (he does grow a bit by the end but not enough for me to like him). For someone that was supposed to be groomed to be the new King (especially due to the circumstances in the book) I found that he was still just a whiny teenager on many occasions (I mean who misses meetings with other world leaders? That is your job) and mad because things are not going his way.

I have a big problem of where this story is set to take place in New Beijing. New Beijing???? There was nothing in this book that had any sort of Asian culture associated with it nor was it described in a way that would make me think that it was in Asia. It sounded like a European or Western place not something in Asia. I understand that this takes place why in the future or in a completely different world but if you are going to refer to place that is real I think it should have some of those aspects. I think the only Asian people referred to in the book were some of the people at the market. I don't even remember Kia being described as Asian and if he is the Prince you would think he would have some sort of Asian descent.

I know I list quite a few problems that I had with this book above but this book was a fun and easy read for me as you can tell that it was written for a more youth based audience. That said I did enjoy the book and Meyers interpretation of the Cinderella story and I would continue on in the series, even though the main characters were not to my liking. I look forward to see what other fairy tales Meyers chooses to interpret, expand upon and put her steam punk twist on.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mary Roach: Stiff - The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

I was drawn to this book for a few reasons. Firstly, if I could do university all over again I would work to becoming a forensic anthropologist which is career that I find extremely fascinating. Secondly, my grandpa passed away in 2013 and he elected to donate his body to science and recently we just received information that he was ready for cremation. My grandpa used to joke about how the student was in for a interesting shock when they got to his lungs (he smoked several packs a day for almost his entire life) and his liver (he drank almost as much as he smoked). As my family and I will never fully know the adventure that my grandpa's body went on after he passed, I thought it might be interesting to know a possible path that he took.

Mary Roach takes readers on an strange adventure with what happens when someone donates their body to science. She takes reader through some history from how they have been procured to what the have been used for and the advancements that have been made because of work on them. The scientific aspects of the books are mixed in with Roach's own thoughts, feelings and whit. 

Each chapter takes on a different aspect in science that could benefit from the use of cadavers to work on; Plastic surgery to Crash Test Dummies Roach has deemed to explore a wide range for the use of cadavers (and it is by no need an extensive list, but she did choose some interesting ones that I never thought of). This book also touches on at times the use of animals in experiments and some that are pretty disturbing and what I would think would be straight out of a horror novel. For example attaching a decapitated puppy head to a live dog to determine if the flesh can be reanimated or survive. And I guess that brings me to my next point if you have a squeamish stomach this book will not be for you, as Roach does go in to a fair amount of detail at times.

This book has quite a bit of humour in it for the topic but you need to have a similar type of humour or not get offended easily in order to enjoy this book. Roach often gives her own personal observations or thoughts during the moment when researching or interviewing scientist about the "lives" of cadavers, and most of the time her thoughts could boarder on offensive to some people at the jokes or thoughts that just seem to pop in to her mind. I think that this is the part that people will either love or hate, however, this is what makes the book truly unique in voice instead of just stating scientific or history facts.

I liked learning about some of the curious lives that human cadavers can have now and in history and I am sure that there are many more adventures for them to have. Although Roach is not a medical professional (as you can tell from her personal comments) I think she did a great job in presenting the science as well as making it interesting. I would read another book by Roach and I seriously would consider donating my body to science even though I wouldn't want it to end up in some of the places the cadavers in this story did.


I don't have something too similar to this book, but these are some fiction reads that I think will be a good segway from this book.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ernest Cline: Ready Player One

Ernest Cline takes readers to 2044 and introduces readers to the OASIS where people live their lives in a virtual world and the greatest treasure hunt is about to begin:

Wade Wilson is a gunther, which means he devotes all of his spare time in The OASIS (most people do trying to escape the poverty) and trying to find James Halliday Easter Egg, which would unlock the mass fortune that he has accumulated. Five years have done by since Halliday passed away and the first clue was give and it appeared that no one was closer to finding the first key. Until one day an teenage boy's name appears at the top of the scoreboard as having found the copper key. The race is on as Wade and other gunthers struggles to find the next keys to the Easter Egg, but there are those that will make the game deadly not only in the virtual world but in real life as well.

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I found I devoured it and was reading it every chance  I could. I think what I liked the most about this book is that it is a reality that I could see for our future. Not only this generation in a great recession but people live basically their entire lives online as an escape from it. There are already so many online games and worlds that people are a part of that, at times, consume their life and who they are. Online you can be whoever you want, look how ever you want and be a completely different person. The going to school in the online universe was also a cool aspect as it would allow those who do not live close to a school or have the inability to go to school to still learn and interact in that type of an environment.

Wade is an interesting character and he is ever devoted to his goal of finding the keys to Halliday's Easter Egg, so that he can change his own . He has this funny habit of siting all the 80s information that he states or talks about in the book, which I got used to the farther into the book and found it quite interesting.  Although Wade is a teenager in the novel and some of his life choices and decisions reflect this, I think it was his obsession with the 80s culture that made him seem older than he actually was. However, other than Wade being the narrator of this book, I never really felt much connection to him and I cannot pin point why (maybe it was due tot he fact he was the narrator which took some of the suspense away?).

This book is pure geek (which is awesome) at its best especially if you have a things for 80s pop culture or are a gamer with a love of older video games. The information that Cline has amassed in order to create not only the clue that Wade has to decode but the language that Wade uses as he tends to reference everything is outstanding. This created a unique voice and path for Wade to take throughout the book and you can tell that Cline had to do a lot of planning and researching to get it right as he probably knew there would be people out there that would let me know if he got is wrong. I think this was the one place where Cline lost me at times, as I was trying to figure out the clues as well, there was no way I had the knowledge to figure them out (other than the first clue which I found pretty obvious).

Ready Player One is one of my favourite reads so far this year. I loved the concept of this book and how true it could be in our future. I look forward to seeking out other books by Cline.

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