Friday, November 17, 2017

YA Review: Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

I'm a big fan of Kirsten Miller, one of the coauthors of this book. I loved her Kiki Strike series, and wish it hadn't ended. This book has in common with those smart-mouthed teens and excitement, but not much else. It takes place in a not distant future (the only difference from today is that they have more advanced AI and virtual reality technology, but other than that, there is nothing that would be out of place in a contemporary setting), and a new video game with amazingly lifelike play and graphics has just been released.  It soon becomes clear that something much more sinister is going on, and the main character, Simon, goes on a quest to save his best friend from being killed by the "game."  Comparisons to Ready Player One are inevitable, but while they share a basic premise, the world describe here is much less fun and much more violent and disturbing.  This was an interesting and very quick read, and it had a good mix of humor, adventure, high stakes, and social commentary.  
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Non-Fiction Review: The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume I, by Robert Lacey

This is a gorgeous production of a book, and a must-have for fans of the lavish and delicious Netflix show, The Crown.  The title is a little strange, since it doesn't stipulate what it is a companion to: the life of Queen Elizabeth II?  The show itself?  The answer is, both.  It's an odd book because of that, and I think the lack of clarity is very much intentional.  The publisher collapses and confuse the life of the actual woman with the storytelling on the show.  It's a bit disconcerting, and probably actively problematic for those who don't know much about the Queen outside of the show.  Lacey's text, however, is very clear about the difference.  But it's very odd to have a book that implies in the title to be about the Queen, the actual person, to begin with images of the fake queen and the fake Duke of Edinburgh, etc.  Stills from the show are randomly interspersed with actual photographs, and most disturbingly, the screen stills are in black and white!  And without captions.  Can there be any doubt that the publisher is intentionally trying to elide the difference between fact and fiction here?  It's a strange choice, and I don't see why it was necessary.  The text and the image seem to intentionally mix and confuse these elements, to the point where you're not immediately sure what's real and what's TV anymore.  The gorgeous cover perfectly illustrates what this book is going for.  It's informative, but, because it is both about the show and the woman, it is not really an adequate biography.  Luckily, there are plenty of those to go around, best, in my opinion, being Sally Bedell Smith's excellent biography, which seems to me to be an important source for the show.  This book is beautiful and a lot of fun, but it's very slight, and it's a weird combination of light biography, TV show companion, and coffee table book.  
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)