By Rhonna Hargett, Adult Services Manager
I have never thought that I would enjoy books from the science fiction or fantasy genre. I have always enjoyed the classics and romance and dabbled a bit in mystery. But then I watched Dr. Who and became addicted. When K-State chose Ready Player One by Ernest Cline as their common read, I read it unwillingly and ended up loving it. I probably won’t ever be a serious sci-fi/fantasy reader, but I have found that there are some amazing books that shouldn’t be missed.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is fantasy for bibliophiles. Clay Jannon has lost his job as a web designer and takes the only job he can find as a clerk in a 24-hour book store. Working the night shift, he quickly discovers that not many books are being sold, and the bulk of the business is the few customers who repeatedly come in to check out books from the mysterious stash that Clay isn’t supposed to touch. Along with his curious friends, Clay uses his programming skills (and long, boring, overnight hours with nothing to do) to do some investigating, leading them all into the world of a secret society and an ancient code. Sloan’s first novel is an adventure through the evolution of technology from the 16th century to sometime in the near future, with the intrigue of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and a passion for books that is impossible to resist.
In Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, teenager Wade Watts is fighting for survival in the grim devastation of our world in 2044. Nature is a thing of the past, and most people live in towers of trailers, stacked on top of each other. He mentally escapes by disappearing for hours at a time into OASIS, an immersive virtual reality created by a 1980’s-obsessed genius, James Halliday. When Halliday dies and leaves his fortune to whomever completes the quest within OASIS first, Wade dives in head-first, finding himself in conflict with the powerful corporation that wants to maintain the status quo. Ready Player One is an intrepidly great story, loaded with enough 80’s references to please any Gen Xer and a dry humor that caught me unaware. Library Journal summed it up with “an unapologetic romp with brains and style.”
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley begins with the mysterious line, “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a London park with no idea who she is, surrounded by unconscious people wearing latex gloves. The letter in her pocket leads her to more clues and to a puzzling and dangerous adventure. As Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) researches the past of the body she inhabits and explores her newfound superhuman powers, she learns about secret government projects and conspiracies, trying to navigate alliances and divisions along the way. A paranormal thriller with a surprising sense of humor, The Rook is a great read-alike for fans of Dr. Who, Harry Potter, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
To Say Nothing of the Dog, or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis is the rollicking tale of time travelers who visit the past to assist in architectural restoration projects. It’s all rather tame and systematic until Verity Kindle accidentally carries something along with her when she returns to the future, possibly changing history. Her partner, Ned Henry, is forced to return to the Victorian Era to straighten it all out. Intrigue, mishaps, and hilarity ensue.
It’s good to step outside your reading comfort zone occasionally, or you might miss an amazing read. We’re always glad you help you explore new genres at Manhattan Public Library.