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Reviewletts: Futuristic Audiobooks

In an effort to maybe, perhaps, hopefully get caught up on all the books I haven’t reviewed, I’m planning to start doing mini-reviews every couple of weeks for books that I read but didn’t have much to say about. If you have more specific questions about any of this week’s titles, leave them in the comments!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.  Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. (Source)

It’s hard for me to tell you how much I just adored the audio book of Ready Player One. I loved it so much that I bought a copy of the paperback after listening because I wanted to add it to my permanent collection. The two worlds that Ernest Cline creates — the dystopian world of the future, and the virtual world inside The Oasis — are vivid and exciting. Wade, our scrappy protagonist, is the kind of character you can’t help but root for (even when he’s being overwhelmingly dumb). There are a few slightly-too-convenient plot points, but I was just so entertained by this book that I didn’t care. Wil Wheaton was a fantastic choice as a narrator — you can tell how much he loves the book and is geeking out about it as he narrates. I’m not a video gamer, and I’m not familiar enough with the 1980s to get many of the geekiest references, but neither of those things detracted from my experience with this book. I highly, highly recommend it.

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

the last policemanWhat’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway? Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact. The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares. (Source)

Listening to this audio book make me realize what a weakness I have for fiction that sits in a place somewhere between literary fiction and genre fiction. The Last Policeman has a lot of the character-driven, introspective sorts of features that you get in literary fiction because of the overarching problem of a world-ending catastrophe, but adds a whodunit murder mystery on top that keeps our main character and the story from bogging down too much in those philosophical questions. Winter’s writing is quite lovely — very noir, without being over-the-top — and Peter Berkrot’s narration captures the gritty idealism that drives Hank Palace to keep on keeping on in the midst of the end of the world. This is another audio book I highly recommend.

Disclosure: I purchased both of these books through Audible. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion(Kathy) August 30, 2012, 5:58 am

    I read Ready Player One and loved it and every single person I’ve recommended it too loved it as well. I have The Last Policeman in print so I’ll probably experience it that way as well.

    • Kim September 9, 2012, 1:47 pm

      I’ve seen a few less-than-enthusiastic thoughts on Ready Player One, but the consensus seems to be positive. I’m definitely on that band wagon.

  • Amelia August 30, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I listened to Ready Play One and loved it! I haven’t purchased the book yet, but I will. I’m a mini-gamer/geek and caught most of the references, but like you said it didn’t really matter.

    If you liked his book you should check out his spoken word (you can download it from his website). That’s how I was first introduced to him a few years ago.

    • Kim September 9, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check that out!

  • Care August 30, 2012, 4:43 pm

    I will have to add Ready Player One to my tbr – I mean, tbl. I hope I get the 80s references!

    • Kim September 9, 2012, 1:48 pm

      Even if you don’t, the book is still a ton of fun 🙂

  • Jenny August 30, 2012, 4:46 pm

    Good to know that Ready Player One doesn’t depend on its allusiveness to work, because I for sure will not catch any illusions to things that happened before the year 2000 (I don’t know, I was just a strangely unaware kid) or to video games. But I still want to read this! I hear so many good things plus I have it in mind as a possible gift for someone and I need to screen it first.

    • Kim September 9, 2012, 1:49 pm

      I was a pretty unaware kid too. I’m horrible at ’90s Trivial Pursuit, even though I should get a least a few of the questions from the mid to late ’90s. I hope you like it!

  • Jeanne August 31, 2012, 5:35 am

    Now I know what to look for on audio when I get to the library. I haven’t heard anything narrated by Wil Wheaton yet, but have read that he’s good at reading out loud.

    • Kim September 9, 2012, 1:49 pm

      This was my first time with him as a narrator too, and I thought he was a great choice. You could just tell how much fun he was having with it.

  • kay @ Infiniteshelf September 4, 2012, 11:21 pm

    I read and absolutely loved Ready Player One! Glad to hear you had a great time with it too. I wondered about The Last Policeman and thought of maybe listening to it, and I think you’ve just convinced me.

    • Kim September 9, 2012, 1:50 pm

      It’s a fun book, and I liked the questions it raised about motive and choices in the face of disaster.