the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘video games

armada clineArmada, by Ernest Cline

published 2015

where I got it: purchased new

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I liked Ernest Cline’s debut novel, Ready Player One. I don’t remember if I really *really* liked it, but I recall enjoying it. I was excited to hear he had a new book coming out, and even more excited when Armada showed up in paperback. Armada was going to be just as good as Ready Player One, right? It was going to be better, right?

 

Well, it was certainly an Ernest Cline book, that’s for sure. And Ernie Cline fan or not, you’re either going to really love this book, or really hate it.

 

In his free time, high school senior Zach Lightman plays his favorite MMO, Armada, with his buddies. Even at his part time job at the local gaming and comics shop, Zach gets to play Armada with his boss when the shop is slow, which is usually is. And because this is an Ernest Cline book, not a paragraph goes by without a reference to the video games, music, and scifi movies and tv shows from the past 30 years. Zach even digs through his late father’s VHS tapes and cassette tapes, in an effort to know the father he barely met.

 

(Ok, something neat was happening here: Zach and his generation are the children of today’s gaming teenagers. Zach grew up playing video games with his Mom, and most of his friends grew up playing video games with their parents. That’s actually pretty cool.)

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the flux steinmetzThe Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz

published in 2015

where I got it: purchased new

 

A few days after writing an emotionally fraught and migraine fueled review, I finished Ferrett Steinmetz’s The Flux, which although isn’t a heavy book, deals with a boatload of heavy shit.  I found myself laughing and smiling at all the videogame and pop culture references as huge lumps developed in my throat from #allthefeels. I kept running across things that transcended the page right to “this is super important to me on a very personal level” territory, and that list of things kept getting heavier and longer.  And all of that was all happening at the same time!  The closer I got to the end of the book, the slower I read. Because I didn’t want it to end. If you aren’t reading Ferrett Steinmetz, you really need to start.

 

You know how the middle book in a trilogy too often suffers from “middle book syndrome”, where that book is just a way to get to the 3rd book? The Flux is a middle book that reads like a first book. What I mean by that is the characters grow even more in this book than they did in the first, the stakes get higher, and the reader gets even more invested in what’s going on. Also? Steinmetz wisely includes just enough background so you can successfully enter the series here, and be hungry to go back and read Flex.

 

I really want to tell you all the everything in this book, but sorry peeps, I just don’t have the spoons to write the full on review that even comes close to doing this book justice.  Thus, the list.  The list of things in The Flux that were super important to me, the things that took this book from fun urban fantasy to self help book:

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fable heroes hinesFable: Blood of Heroes, by Jim C. Hines

published August 2015

where I got it: purchased new

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My introduction to the Fable videogame series was playing Fable II until I nearly broke the disc. Kicking chickens, shooting gargoyles, solving riddles, completing quests, honing my skills, being friendly or mean to people, getting different clothes, getting rid of pesky highwayman,  increasing my character’s abilities, seeing how different decisions affected the game . . . I spent many a happy hour in Albion.  Fable II spoiled me: I expected all video games to be this fun.

 

If you’ve never played the videogame, there is still plenty for you to enjoy in Jim C. Hines’ new novel Fable: Blood of Heroes. You’ll get a well drawn story with a good balance of action and characterization,  heroes to cheer on and bad guys to hate on. This is not a heavy deep story, it is just pure fun, just like the video game I have fond memories of.  Having recently tackled Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest,  I needed something that was going to take me for a great ride without frying my brain, and Fable: Blood of Heroes fit the bill.  For those of you have played any or all of the Fable games, you’ll get the in-jokes, recognize videogameisms such as getting information by talking to as many villagers as you can, see the level ups and HP count increases, recognize Will users and Strength users and Skill users, laugh when NPCs tap the fourth wall, and best of all you’ll recognize a fellow Fable fan in Jim Hines.

 

The story starts in the town of Brightlodge, where the young king has summoned four heroes to protect the town’s inhabitants from impending doom. Tipple is the tank of the group, Inga the warrior with an enchanted shield, Rook is the assassin, and Leech the life-force using healer who is a little too interested in how your insides work. A classic D&D adventure team, the heroes’ first quest is to rid the town of a smuggler who harbors more than a few secrets (and a secret identity!), and a boat of attacking redcaps.  The redcaps are foul little bloodthirsty creatures with bloody caps nailed to their heads. They thrive on havoc and on setting things on fire. The plot thickens when the heroes learn of concerns that are far bigger than one pirate and a ship full of redcaps.  In a style that George R R Martin made famous, Hines gives each hero their own point of view chapters, which helps flesh out certain characters and develop their backstories.  With a main cast that soon grows to eight, giving characters their own chapters was a smart move.

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In the last two posts, I mostly showed photos of Japanese manga, anime, live action tv, and video games.  There were plenty of people cosplaying western comic book, movie, and video game characters as well!  see?

 

Raven, Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans!

Raven, Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans!

 

Merida from Brave.

Merida from Brave.

 

Even Doctor Who and the Daleks made and appearance!  I was able to catch up with one of the Elevens (I saw at least 3 of them) as he battled a Dalek-head. This guy, oh man did he have the physical mannerisms down!  Acting the part takes the cosplay to a whole new level!  (and yes, there was a number ten, but I couldn’t get close enough to get a photo)

it's The Doctor!

it’s The Doctor!

 

Too fun to watch!

Too fun to watch!

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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