By Nicholas Handfield-Jones:
Action and Adventure
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One is a completely geek-tastic novel set in 2044. Due to wars, famine, and environmental problems plaguing the world at this time, many people have succumbed to the alluring online virtual reality simulator called the OASIS as a means of escape. When James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, dies, he announces to the world that he has hidden an Easter egg somewhere within the vast virtual reality that he has created, and that whoever finds it will become the new CEO of the OASIS. Halliday, a man with a passion for all things 1980s, leaves cryptic clues for those wishing to find the egg. Five years later, no one has found anything. That is until the 20-something Wade Watts, geek extraordinaire, figures out the first clue. What follows is a fast-paced and suspenseful quest to find the rest of the clues in order to locate the egg. A super enjoyable read, Ready Player One is the perfect book if you are looking for a good quest.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
It is the future, and in the future, humans are preparing for an alien attack. In order to do this, they select a handful of highly gifted children to train as warriors in a spaceship called the Battle room. Ender Wiggin is one of these children. In this novel, we see his struggles as he trains to become a commander and prove himself to his peers and officers. This novel is surprisingly deep: it explores the effects of leadership and power and looks into how people behave under pressure and stress. Ender Wiggin is a very complex character, too; he displays many valiant and noble attributes, but he can also be unforgiving and cruel. Read this book this year, so that you will be ready for the movie adaptation coming out this fall.
Teen Fiction & Young Adult
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jacelyn Moriarty
Bindy Mackenzie’s life is perfectly under control. She has perfect grades and holds study sessions for her peers, but everything starts falling apart after a new class called Friendship and Development (FAD) begins at her school. Now, she begins to realize that other students have a very negative opinion of her. Her life becomes even more unstable when she becomes the target of an intricate murder plot. What is so refreshing about this novel is the format in which it is written. Bindy documents her life on her computer by recording her thoughts, aspirations, and things she notices around her. To the reader, Bindy is instantly likable, as she is a book-loving, nerdy, grammar-loving girl.The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie offers just the right levels of teen angst, romance, and murder plots, all of whichmake it a highly entertaining read.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
If you have not read this book yet, stop whatever you’re doing and go read it. The Book Thief is a beautiful and powerful book about a young German girl named Liesel Meminger living in Nazi Germany. It reveals what life was like for German citizens during World War II, a focal point rarely explored in literature. As the war rages around her, Liesel begins to steal books as a way to cope with the tragedy and loss she feels. What makes this book especially unique is the narrator. The novel is narrated by Death, and his presence is very comforting as we witness this dark hour in humanity. He is witty and smart when he needs to be, but also sympathetic and understanding. The writing in this novel is also outstanding. Definitely check this book out–it is not to be missed.
A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
I am counting this series as one long book because it really is one long story. If you want a fantasy novel, read this. Don’t even consider anything else, just read this. This series is about the complex political drama in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, as royal and noble families fight for the control of the Iron Throne. (I would like to reveal more about the plot, but that would take up way too much space). The stakes are high in this series, and no one is safe. The characters in this series are so realistic and complicated, and the plot is intricate and detailed. This is fantasy and drama at their best. Also, check out the HBO series Game of Thrones, which is based upon this series.