Review: The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger
Written by Sarah Waters
Published by Riverhead Books on May 10, 2010
512 pages
Purchased for October book club


The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifFirsyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

First of all, there were many times I just wanted to stop reading and not because I was scared. I felt this book was about 150 pages too long. I never felt any pangs of fear or anxiety. It was incredibly slow-moving and I got caught in all the minutia of clothing descriptions.

Was Hundreds Hall haunted? I have no clue. I don’t it was developed enough to really care about the house or its characters. The Hall was in a very sad state; but whether a ghost or something resided there, it just wasn’t that clear. It was sad seeing the Ayres slowly losing their way in life; but it wasn’t really scary or suspenseful. I keep waiting for that “holy crap” moment, but it never really came.

This book never left me wondering what happens next and it wasn’t a page-turner for me. I was difficult to get through. I found it really hard to want to figure out what was happening at Hundreds Hall. It never piqued my interest or curiosity.

I guess, this book really shouldn’t considered “horror” or “suspense.” It’s more historical fiction and a look into post word war II England. It did give an interesting portrayal of the upper class losing their ancestral homes and their position in society. Maybe that is the heart of the book: that loss contributing to the psychological break of the family. The slow crumbling of the Hall mirrors the slow decline of the family.

I do have my own theories of what happened at Hundreds Hall for the author never gives any real answers or hints for that matter. I don’t want to give away any spoilers; but I think Dr. Faraday’s obsession with the Hall could have played a big party of the tragedies that occurred there. I’m looking forward to my book club to hear what the others have to say about this book. I didn’t like it; but I know others did.



Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One
Written by Ernest Cline
Published by Broadway Books on June 5, 2012
372 pages
Science Fiction
Purchased for September Book Club

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 the 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. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved – that of the last twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt – among them certain powerful players who are willing to comment very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life – and love – in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?

To start off, I haven’t read a lot of science fiction novels. It is not much usual go-to genre. However, Ready Player One was the September selection for my awesome book club, Books, Babes and Booze. This is one amazing book! The book has review on its cover that states it’s a mix of The Matrix and Willy Wonka which us a perfect description. Ernest Cline pulled you in from the very first page and kept you there until the very last. I couldn’t put it down.
Mr. Cline created a very dark and depressing real world where it made it very easy for the reader to believe that the virtual world was better alternative. Wade Watts’ real world was located in Oklahoma City, OK (I live just 20 miles south of OKC) and that really piqued my interest. He shaped together a bleak real world that included a trailer park where homes are stacked twenty high. Climate change has made the atmosphere almost unlivable. It’s dark, dirty and depressing.
However, OASIS is want makes living bearable for Wade and his friends. I found OASIS to be an amazing but at the same time a terrifying world. There is no human contact; each person is alone in the real world playing on their own system. I found it very sad and kind of scary. I can see how very easily our world today could turn into something like OASIS. Each person alone and only connecting via a virtual reality; which to me is not a real world. After stating all that, I was completely immersed in this world. I was pretty much enthralled with it.
As a 80s kid, I loved all the references Mr. Cline used throughout the book. The WarGames reference was perfect. I won’t give any spoilers; but this movie really showed how obsessive Wade and the other players were with James Halliday. Halliday seemed to be a difference breed of cat; a mixture of Jobs, Gates and through in some Willy Wonka. You only get glimpses on him, but he makes a big impact. OASIS was his chocolate factory.
In the end, the notion of actual human connection was what made this book really incredible. In order to defeat “the bad guys”, Wade and his competitors had to come together in real life and work together. Having them discover who that actually were was pretty priceless. But no matter what each person held secret; they still accepted one another as friends, and maybe more. Great book! Highly recommend!