This week, Hill Top is participating in The Hour of Code. I had a blast yesterday helping some angry birds crush some evil pigs and helping some zombies stomp some plants.
Of course, there are some great books with coding at their heart. Ready Player One by Ernst Cline is the first one that comes to mind. The story begins when the creator of OASIS, a virtual reality world where most people work and play, dies with no heirs. But, as a true child of the 80’s who was raised on Atari, he has left three easter eggs in OASIS. Whoever finds them first, will inherit his legacy. The battle is on between the gamers, who are pure in their quest, and the corporations who are seeking dominance in the OASIS. This is a great book with lots of really fun 80’s references, which I will be happy to explain to anyone.
Feed by M. T. Anderson has one of my favorite opening lines, “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” Imagine all the digital information you could want installed in a chip in your brain. Need to call someone? Just bring them up in your thoughts. Like that sweatshirt your friend is wearing? The feed can show you where to buy it and how much it will cost. But what happens if you have an inferior implant or if someone is able to upload a virus to your feed? (This book gets bonus points for sending kids to school to learn how to make their beds!)
Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother is an updated version of George Orwell’s 1984. When a group of gamers are caught on the streets of San Francisco during a terrorist attack, they’re taking to Alcatraz (aka Little Gitmo) and questioned by the government. Even after being released, they’re still being tracked and watched. In oreder to find out what happened to a friend who didn’t return from Alcatraz, Marcus (aka W1n5t0n) sets up the XNET, a subnetwork that is not monitored by the government that runs off XBox. Lots and lots of good gaming, coding, and hacking content in this story. Best of all, if you enjoy reading on an ereader, you can get a copy of the book for free from Doctorow’s website (you can actually download all of his books, including Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother).
Finally, there’s James Dashner’s The Eye of Minds. Michael and his friends are known in the VirtNet for being serious gamers and hackers. Their skills are so well known that when another hacker starts kidnapping and killing people in “the sleep,” VirtNet Security recruits them to find the rogue hacker and stop him. Dashner is fantastic at telling a story and knows how to build tension really well. I’m in the middle of the audiobook right now and I’m totally hooked. The only downside is that this is the first book in a series, and the next book doesn’t come out until next year. Ugh.
For those of you who may need to travel over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house for the holiday, I have some audiobooks that may make the ride a little more tolerable.
Did you see the movie version of The Great Gatsby? If you liked the whole ’20s feel, you might also enjoy Libba Bray’s The Diviners. Evie is a little out of control for her hometown, so she’s been sent to New York City to live with her uncle. Her uncle runs a museum of oddities and ends up consulting for the police on a murder investigation, which may or may not involve the occult. It turns out that Evie has a supernatural secret of her own (as do a few of her new NYC friends) that may help in solving these murders. Very creepy. January LaVoy does the narration and is wonderful! But be warned, this is the first book in a series and there are lots of loose ends at the end. (I didn’t know this when I read it and you should have seen me yelling at the stereo in my car when I realized I was on the last track and there were still SO MANY QUESTIONS!!)
Want something a little lighter? Try Chomp by Carl Hiaasen. Wahoo Cray lives with her father, Mikey, who is an animal wrangler. He often helps on movie sets when trained “wild” animals are needed. His latest show is a Man Vs. Wild type show in the Florida Everglades with an arrogant and reckless star. The star is bit by a bat and has a little bit of a breakdown. Meanwhile, Wahoo has teamed up with a girl named Tuna, who is running from an abusive dad. Naturally, there’s a showdown in the swamp, in the middle of storm. Hiaasen’s books are always great for their environmental angles and their humor. James Van Der Beek reads this one.
The Eye of the Minds by James Dashner is a new book. I haven’t read or listened to it yet, but I picked up the audio at my conference last week. It sounds fascinating! The main character is a gamer, who is also known for breaking the rules in VirtNet, the total mind and body virtual reality everyone is addicted to. When a hacker starts holding players hostage, the government needs someone who knows the ins and outs of VirtNet and can hack the rules. Dashner also wrote The Maze Runner series, which is awesome, so I can only imagine this book is going to be great. And geek flag alert…James Dashner is going to be at Children’s Book World in Haverford tonight at 7. I’ll be there being my best fangirl self. (And this also means that tomorrow we’ll also have a print copy of the book). This is also the first in a planned series.
Finally, I picked up Scowler by Daniel Kraus. He’s the guy who wrote Rotters, the book about grave robbers. This is his latest book, and it has the same narrator as Rotters. I don’t know much about it, except that it involves a demonic folk doll and it’s scary as all get out. I talked with a woman who is on a bunch of audiobook award committees and she told me she never has nightmares and her dreams are always in black and white. This audiobook gave her nightmares that featured color, sound, and smell. You’ve been warned.