First up, Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. This book is basically a love letter to the 80s, but presented in a very compelling way. Essentially, a reclusive billionaire video game designer has no living heir, so when he dies, his will reveals a contest that challenges players to find clues in the virtual world upon which he built his empire. Who ever decodes all the clues and beats the game first, inherits the empire. For years very little progresses was made, until one dedicated player final captured the first key. The story follows the journey of Wade Watts, as he works to unravel the clues and be the first to unlock all the keys and gates before the evil corporation IOI can.
Throughout the book their are references to 80s movies, music, video games, and even D&D. At one point, Wade has his computer programmed to interact with him like Max Headroom, while flying a DeLorean, wielding a lightsaber, and wearing a ring of protection. It’s basically a geek-splosion. It makes for a very nostalgic, entertaining and exciting read!
Next, the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. The first book in this series, The Name of the Wind, has been out since 2007, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s well worth your time. Rothfuss combines traditional fantasy tropes of magic and coming of age with his own page-turning writing style and richly detailed world. It follows the story of Kvothe, from the perspective of the main character relating his tale to a scribe. Most of the book takes place in the past with occasional interludes in the present. Rothfuss has a very interesting magic system, and magic school, but this is no Harry Potter. This tale is decidedly darker and more varied than ‘boy goes to wizard school.’ I’ve read the second book, The Wise Man’s Fear, and I can’t wait for the third one to be released! Not to be missed if you enjoy a good fantasy book.
Lastly, and perhaps most predictably, George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. If you haven’t heard, Game of Thrones is kind of a big deal. I’ve really been enjoying the TV series, and readily admit I had not heard of the books before the show. I would recommend watching the show first before reading the book (always a good idea) particularly for this show however, as they faithfully try to hit all the high points of the story, they have to gloss over some things. In reading the book afterwards, it fills in all the details and back stories for minor characters and locations, and brings the world of Westeros alive. I’ve been trying to pace myself with these, as the 3rd season of the show is still in production, and George just recently released the 5th book out of 7. Some long time fans had been waiting years for that 5th book, and it is clear he is an author that will not be rushed. I really enjoy the world he has created with its varied characters and detailed heraldry.
Happy summer reading!