I realized after titling this post that ‘adult edition’ makes it sound like these are all going to be porn and that’s entirely misleading (psych!) but I’m too lazy to think of a new title and three out of four aren’t YA so whatever. My bad if I lured you here under false pretenses.
Anyways, I’ve been on a bit of an unofficial hiatus lately. Life has been a tad overwhelming and I’ve been having trouble getting into a lot of my review books and while it’s all quite irritating, I have a read a handful of things I think are very much worth shouting at you all about so I’m borrowing Steph’s thing and doing a handful of mini-reviews.
You by Caroline Kepnes
When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
This book is creepy as all hell. It’s the story of a stalking (and I mean stalking, not like a quirky ‘haha I’m super interested in this person so I researched them really well’ commentary on the information age and it turns out Joe’s actually just misunderstood, this guy is seriously fucked up) from the stalker’s perspective.
You is written in second person which I generally find to be a really difficult trick to pull off but it works really well in this case. It keeps you hyper aware of the situation and makes it so chillingly personal while amping the off balance factor created by the intense, unreliable narration. You’re in Joe’s head and you’re entirely strapped in for the ride and it is quite a ride. He goes up and down seamlessly switching from on top of the world in love with everything before crashing down, down, down, ready to burn the world and everyone in it. It’s fucking scary and seriously amazing.
One of my favorite parts of this book, aside from the super dark fucked up-ness of it all, is how persuasive it is. Joe has a sort of smug, dry humor cynical outlook on the world that spoke to me. One of the creepiest parts for me was how I’d catch myself nodding along with his pop culture/societal commentary only to snap out of it like wait, no, not the guy I want to agree with.
If you’re in the mood for a twisted, psychological thriller and you’re cool with being at least vaguely disgusted with to outright horrified by every character in the book, I highly recommend checking out You.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.
One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.
Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleventells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
This is a weird one to explain why I liked it so much because I liked it for reasons that I don’t normally go for and also those reasons kind of sound like they’d make it a not-amazing book. For instance, the characters don’t really stand out and there isn’t all that much by way of plot but somehow these things worked in its favor in a way I can’t really explain (I am an excellent book reviewer, I know).
The thing that I loved about Station Eleven is how thoughtful and vaguely poetic it is. Most of the time, end of the world/post-apocalyptic fiction focuses on the epicenter of the action because, duh, action. In this case, there isn’t really an epicenter to focus on. The world is hit with a fast acting, killer flu and there’s nothing can be done about it. No bad guys to fight, no missions to embark on, the world is there one day and then suddenly everyone’s getting sick and before anyone can figure out what to do pretty much everyone is dead and most of this information is passed along second hand. This book is a thorough, novel length answer to the question ‘seriously think about it, what would you, a random, ordinary person, do if the end of the world happened and you survived when everyone you knew died and then what would you do with yourself when life as you knew it was over? What would humanity look like?’
I also quite liked the storytelling technique. Station Eleven is told in a Crash-like manner (disclaimer, I overall hated Crash but loved the format), snapshots of seemingly unconnected people with a random common thread running through their lives.
Bottom line, Station Eleven is a beautifully told story of survival, endurance and hope and while it wasn’t a rollercoaster of feelings, it was an incredibly engrossing and lovely read.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, tho, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
I’d seen Tatum shouting about The Martian awhile back and picked it up but never got around to reading it until recently and I am the stupidest of all the girls for waiting as long as I did because this book is fantastic.
To be honest, I’m a bit surprised I wasn’t hospitalized at any point while reading The Martian. Reading this book is kind of like what I’d imagine it be like if you clamped some jumper cables to a car battery and completed the circuit with your body. It’s intense as shit is what I’m trying to get across here. I am 100% serious when I say I read the last 20% or so of the book with sweaty, shaky palms, completely unable to catch my breath and fully convinced my heart was going to give out before I got to the end.
The story opens with Mark Watney being stranded on Mars. So, you know, you go in fully aware that Mark is pretty much fucked and that sucks because Mark is amazing. For a dude that does an incredible amount of complicated math in his head, I latched on to him like whoa (I am super incredibly bad at math and physics and generally avoid them like the plague but was so damn relatable the overwhelming amounts were (vaguely) followable and didn’t send me running in the opposite direction). For a guy in an absolute shit situation, he’s hilarious, upbeat and heart-breakingly resourceful (I say heartbreaking because the endless cycle of I FIXED IT-EVERYTHING IS FUCKED UP-I FIXED IT-EVERYTHING IS FUCKED UP gave me actual chest pains). He puns like a champion, appreciates the divinity of duct tape and creates his own measurement unit called ninjas. I fucking love this guy.
In addition to Mark pushing back his so-likely-it’s-basically-inevitable demise moment by teeth-grindingly tense moment, The Martian also depicts how Earth reacts to one of their own being stuck on a neighboring planet and it’s so beautiful. Nations come together, social media rises to the occasion, the whole world watches NASA’s every move like ‘Yo, so, when are we saving this guy? Let’s go.’ (basically exactly what you’d expect unless you’re a cynical asshole like me and the efficient, selfless, international cooperation caught you off guard and made you cry bittersweet ‘if only’ tears).
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
This is another Tatum rec and what I’ve learned from this experience is to listen to her when she says a book is the best. It’s been awhile since I’ve been so into a book I’ve stayed up until 2.30 in the morning with work the next day because I couldn’t put said book down and I am pleased to inform you that Ready Player One broke my dry spell.
This book is like an extended episode of VH1’s I Love the ‘80s if that show was also a virtual reality MMORPG adventure. So, you know, I loved every fucking word. If you’re not the kind of person who goes nuts for pop culture references and/or gaming and ‘80s trivia aren’t your thing, I’d still recommend giving it a shot. The world-building is top notch, the characters are fantastic and vivid, the story is engaging as all hell and the ending is epic.
In spite of it being a fairly serious story (as in, not a constant fluff parade) with some intense, dark moments, Ready Player One is so much fun. It’s fascinating and exciting and I’m running out of adjectives. I also hugely appreciated that a book centered around the fabulousness of gaming had a running theme of ‘as awesome as the internet is, don’t forget that a) you’re dealing with real live people and b) there is a life outside the internet and that can be pretty cool too’ because hello relevance and truth.
Because I’m feeling the love and sharing is caring, I’m giving away one of the books mentioned above.
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You by Caroline Kepnes sounds like a book that would make me shudder.
tbh it made me want to never leave my house and/or talk to another human being again but i was already pretty much there, so
Bieke @ Istyria book blog
I loooooooved Ready Player One, but I’m curious for The Martian! 😀
The Martian is awesome.
I would love Station Eleven! It seems literary an apocalyptic, as well as like an interesting examination of humanity.
literary + apocalyptic = exactly
all the more reason to want to read it! also, please excuse my ridiculous typing-too-fast typo.
Heather recently posted…Why I Loved…Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
hahahahaha i didn’t even catch them 😀 (i typo like it’s my job so consider them always excused)
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
You: I was maybe on board but then second person and idk man. Though is the second person kind of directed at the person being stalked? Or is it meant to make you feel like YOU are the one being stalked? Hahahaha at you nodding your head along with the stalker.
Station Eleven: “For instance, the characters don’t really stand out and there isn’t all that much by way of plot but somehow these things worked in its favor in a way I can’t really explain (I am an excellent book reviewer, I know).” trololololol
I’m again going with idk maaaaaaybe
The Martian: I have this and I’m supposed to read/review, but yeah idk when. Ooooh, you make it sound so good though. I wish I had tiiiiiime.
Ready Player One: Oooh hey one I’ve read. Isn’t it great? 😀
Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Audiobook Review: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
The second person in You makes the reader feel like they’re being stalked and it’s SO FUCKING CREEPY CHRISTINA. I called my sister like halfway through like SHUT YOUR CURTAINS AND NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TALK TO STRANGERS I DON’T CARE HOW CHARMING THEY ARE STAY CELIBATE THERE ARE FUCKING CREEPERS OUT THERE
I am telling you, there is something magic about Station Eleven. Ask Jamie, she loved it too.
CHRISTINA READ THE MARTIAN. Let me put it like this, it is full of math (like super full of math) AND I LOVED IT. YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT MATH. NOT ONLY DID I LOVE IT BUT I LOVED THE MATH BECAUSE IT WAS FUNNY AND INVOLVED NINJAS.
Ready Player One was fucking amazing and I can’t believe I waited so long to read it although to be fair it came out a long ass time ago and I didn’t know about it but whatever I should’ve.
I absolutely adored Station Eleven. In a glut of dystopias and end of the world novels, this one struck me as the most realistic. I loved the look at the small, everyday realities of a world that no longer works as it should. Gah. I had so many feelings about this one.
Hannah recently posted…Review: Squire (Protector of the Small #3) – Tamora Pierce
yeeesssssssss small everyday realities is such a good way to put it! such a good book
Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing
I like the sound of The Martian the best. I have been curious about it since it won award for best sci-fi book of last year at Goodreads. Your review only proves that it is probably something I will enjoy very much when I get to reading it 🙂
Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing recently posted…NO MORE WAITING #3: The Traveling Duet
The Martian sounds great, because I’ve read it and agree totally, likewise, Ready Player One. You sounds like a gripping thriller and Station Eleven appeals strongly for the apocalyptic. Too many good things to read!
Still thinking about Ready Player One like a week after I read it. It’s one of those stories that stays with you a long time.
Station Eleven and The Martian have been on my list for a while, but I have other stuffs to get to first (like finishing up the 5th GOT book before the TV show spoils everything for me. haha) so they will have to wait.
Imma gonna go ahead and skip “You”. *shudder*
I totally have been wanting to ready Ready Player One for like…forever. But – Station Eleven is also totally awesome!!!! 😀 Great reviews – I love this blog! 🙂
Not sure I could read YOU – but all the rest have been added to my TBR pile!
Eddie Louise recently posted…Brutal Youth is a Brutal Read
These are all such positive reviews. I’m not surprised since Station Eleven and The Martian have been big ones that have gotten A LOT OF critical acclaim. WOW AND THANKS FOR THE GIVEAWAY. 😀
Mawa Mahima recently posted…To Rectify
If The Martian is as tense as your review made me feel, I need to read this.
Grace Radford/Anna Pett
Ready Player One sounds really good.
I’d love to read The Martian or You… they seem very intriguing and interesting. Actually I wanted to read The Martian or Station Eleven… but that was because I didn’t know You was a very twisted book.
Thanks for the chance, Meg. You are amazing 🙂
Octaviana recently posted…WRAP UP: Marzo 2015
The Martian sounds the best. I need a good sci-fi! (As opposed to romance-sci-fi.) Considering all the raving that was happening on Twitter a few weeks ago, I have high expectations. 🙂
The Martian sounds pretty awesome! I have seen a lot of raving reviews but never had the courage to pick it up…maybe now is the right time! (Actually the awesome-st is Station Eleven, but I already own two copies and I read it three times!) 😉
You sounds flipping awesome!
I LOVED Ready Player One as well, especially with all the really fun cultural tie-ins. I can’t wait for Ernest Cline’s newest book this year. The Martian looks super interesting, plus I love space-y books. I’ve heard great things about Station Eleven too, but I don’t think I will be reading it because viruses and illnesses like that freak me out in books. Great reviews!
Katherine recently posted…The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger Review
I am super super torn between YOU and THE MARTIAN. They both sound really interesting.
I’ve heard such good things about Station Eleven! I really need to read it soon! Especially since I love Shakespeare and the premise sounds really interesting.
I think You by Caroline Kepnes sounds the best out of the four books. I think I’m just in the mood for a creepy, psychological thriller.
Haley recently posted…Review: We are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
I have read all of these except for The Martian and I totally agree with you about their awesomeness! The Martian is on my TBR but I haven’t gotten to it yet. You obviously have similar (great) taste in books 😉 so I’m going to trust that The Martian will rock!
You by Caroline Kepnes sounds creepy as hell and fantastic. Told from the POV of a stalker? Gimme that shit right now.
I read The Martian awhile back and liked it, but didn’t love it. All the science bogged it down, imo. But Mark made it onto my Favorite Characters list for being absolutely hilarious. XD
I’ve read The Martian and ended up on the edge of my (rocket) seat by the last half of the book. We had a bumpy start (got annoyed by many !!!!!!!! and heavy science talk), but it does get better and better. All the others sound great, too…You sounds creepy as hell, and I’ve heard good things about Station 11 and Ready Player One…so need to read 🙂
i loved The Martian and Station Eleven. Ready Player One is on the TBR list, but I don’t think I could stomach You.
I’m torn between Station 11 and the Martian. Heard great things about both 🙂 thanks for sharing!
Station Eleven really interests me, I already bought a copy though and picked it up but it wasn’t grabbing me, so I’ve put it down to come back to. I’m hearing a lot of people giving it 4/5 but not being able to pinpoint why they liked it. Out of these I’d probably pick either You or Ready Player One… I’d have to go with Ready Player One, it’s practically a cult classic right?
Rachel recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Characters I’d Love To Check In With!
I really love psychological thrillers, but wow that one looks very creepy.
The Martian, oh I’ve heard nonstop badass things about this book since it released. I even gifted it to my father over the holidays. He just had the biggest smile on his face every time he took out that book to read it. SUCCESS!
These all sound really interesting, except for maybe the stalker one…
Ready Player One sounds like a book I’d adore! An I Love the 80s virtual reality MMORPG? Yes, please! 😀
Kim Waters recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (45)
There is nothing better than RP1. It’s a book that spans all ages, and I enjoyed it so much! The Martian also looks really interesting, and I love that cover.
Shannelle C. recently posted…The Summer Story of April 10, 2015
Paula M @ Her Book Thoughts!
The Martian and YOU sounds awesome! Love the covers and heard good things about them 🙂
Paula M @ Her Book Thoughts! recently posted…ARC REVIEW: Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross, Mark Perini
I adored The Martian. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator is so great that I immediately started listening again when I finished.
I’m torn between Station Eleven and Ready Player One. They ALL sound amazing, honestly, and I appreciate your reviews because I’ll be wanting to read them all eventually. 🙂
Beth W recently posted…More Fairytale Fortnight Food
YOU or READY PLAYER ONE – both sound amazing, I’m ready for my mind to get warped!
Sel recently posted…Guest Post by J. Nelle Patrick (Tsarina)
‘You’ seems creepy as hell. Especially since I live in NYC and stuff like that happens easily here. But the plot seems like it has a crazy twist to it. I like that!
All sounds good, but my favorite is The Martian , i read a lot good reviews and sounds like an original and funny book
Wow wee!!! I can’t pick which one I want to read first they all sound brilliant!
I just recently bought The Martian because it’s been getting such amazing reviews. I’m really excited for how funny it sounds but it seems I should also prep for heart palpitations too!
I’ve already read (and loved) Ready Player One. I think if I had to choose from this list, I would choose Station Eleven. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and also I love that they are a troupe of actors. I’ve done theatre my whole life, and I have such a love of Shakespeare (especially King Lear), so I think I would really enjoy that!
I heard great things and read awesome reviews (yours included) about The Martian by Andy Weir, so that one is my pick for sure.
Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂
Excuse my comment overload but I’m catching up on all the comments I never posted. 🙂 I need to read Station Eleven, eventually. But I’m listening to Ready Player One and it is so perfect and nerdy and I cannot wait for the movie. Also, I listened to The Martian too and it was kind of perfect. Loved how I didn’t know how it would end. I honestly thought Watney would die a horrible Martian death. Also, Watney’s narration was great. I also can’t wait to see him and his alien potatoes on the big screen.
Brianna Robinson recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #3 (It’s been a while…)