Kirkus Reviews –
Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline's first novel is old wine in new bottles.
The real world, in 2045, is the usual dystopian horror story. So who can blame Wade, our narrator, if he spends most of his time in a virtual world? The 18-year-old, orphaned at 11, has no friends in his vertical trailer park in Oklahoma City, while the OASIS has captivating bells and whistles, and it's free. Its creator, the legendary billionaire James Halliday, left a curious will. He had devised an elaborate online game, a hunt for a hidden Easter egg. The finder would inherit his estate. Old-fashioned riddles lead to three keys and three gates. Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, is the first gunter (egg-hunter) to win the Copper Key, first of three. Halliday was obsessed with the pop culture of the 1980s, primarily the arcade games, so the novel is as much retro as futurist. Parzival's great strength is that he has absorbed all Halliday's obsessions; he knows by heart three essential movies, crossing the line from geek to freak. His most formidable competitors are the Sixers, contract gunters working for the evil conglomerate IOI, whose goal is to acquire the OASIS. Cline's narrative is straightforward but loaded with exposition. It takes a while to reach a scene that crackles with excitement: the meeting between Parzival (now world famous as the lead contender) and Sorrento, the head of IOI. The latter tries to recruit Parzival; when he fails, he issues and executes a death threat. Wade's trailer is demolished, his relatives killed; luckily Wade was not at home. Too bad this is the dramatic high point. Parzival threads his way between more '80s games and movies to gain the other keys; it's clever but not exciting. Even a romance with another avatar and the ultimate "epic throwdown" fail to stir the blood.
Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.
Kirkus Reviews –
A new bride who moves to St. Simons, a Georgia barrier island, finds that she has deeper ties to her home than she ever suspected. Ava, the only daughter of a funeral director, shocks her family, especially her mother, Gloria, with her whirlwind marriage to Matthew Frazier, whom she met at a medical conference (she's a midwife, he's a pediatric psychologist) only months before. Gloria can't bring herself to speak to her daughter, much to the chagrin of Ava's 90-plus grandmother Mimi. The marriage is especially baffling to Gloria because Ava, with her lifelong water phobia and persistent nightmares of drowning, will be living in the seaside house which has been in the Frazier family for centuries. Once she's carried over the threshold, the mysteries of the old, though immaculately renovated, house, and the island it's on, crowd in on Ava. Among them: Why didn't Matthew ever mention his first wife, Adrienne, an artist? What did John, Adrienne's brother, mean when he says his family thinks Matthew killed Adrienne, when her death (by drowning after her car went over a bridge) was clearly an accident? Why does Matthew keep hiding Adrienne's papers and memorabilia from Ava? As Tish, a family friend, encourages Ava to do historical research about the Fraziers, Ava begins to suspect that her visceral attraction to Matthew may only be explainable as a carry-over from a former life. But whose? Occasional interspersed chapters, set in the early 1800s, provide a clue, as Matthew's ancestor Geoffrey and his wife Pamela (a midwife herself) deal with sterility, resentful siblings and infidelity. Further perplexing puzzles: How did Ava sustain fractures before the age of two? Why did her family, who once lived on St. Simons, move inland? Who originally owned a music box blown in by a tornado and an ancient wedding band inscribed "Forever?" Although the narrative can be painfully slow, White skillfully juggles the deceptions that nurture the novel's enigmas, until the surprising truth emerges.
Join one of America’s beloved storytellers on a walk like no other: one man’s unrelenting search for hope.
Reeling from the sudden loss of his wife, his home, and his business, Alan Christoffersen, a once-successful advertising executive, has left everything he knew behind and set off on an extraordinary cross-country journey. Carrying only a backpack, he is walking from Seattle to Key West, the farthest destination on his map.
Now almost halfway through his trek, Alan sets out to walk the nearly 1,000 miles between South Dakota and St. Louis, but it’s the people he meets along the way who give the journey its true meaning: a mysterious woman who follows Alan’s walk for close to a hundred miles, the ghost hunter searching graveyards for his wife, and the elderly Polish man who gives Alan a ride and shares a story that Alan will never forget.
Full of hard-won wisdom and truth, is a compelling and inspiring novel about hope, healing, grace, and the meaning of life.