The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

Title: The Core of the Sun

Author: Johanna Sinisalo

Pub Date: original 2013, translation 2016

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

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Synopis from Goodreads:

From the author of the Finlandia Award-winning novel Troll: A Love Story, The Core of the Sun further cements Johanna Sinisalo’s reputation as a master of literary speculative fiction and of her country’s unique take on it, dubbed “Finnish weird.” Set in an alternative historical present, in a “eusistocracy”—an extreme welfare state—that holds public health and social stability above all else, it follows a young woman whose growing addiction to illegal chili peppers leads her on an adventure into a world where love, sex, and free will are all controlled by the state.

The Eusistocratic Republic of Finland has bred a new human sub-species of receptive, submissive women, called eloi, for sex and procreation, while intelligent, independent women are relegated to menial labor and sterilized so that they do not carry on their “defective” line. Vanna, raised as an eloi but secretly intelligent, needs money to help her doll-like sister, who has disappeared. Vanna forms a friendship with a man named Jare, and they become involved in buying and selling a stimulant known to the Health Authority to be extremely dangerous: chili peppers. Then Jare comes across a strange religious cult in possession of the Core of the Sun, a chili so hot that it is rumored to cause hallucinations. Does this chili have effects that justify its prohibition? How did Finland turn into the North Korea of Europe? And will Vanna succeed in her quest to find her sister, or will her growing need to satisfy her chili addiction destroy her?

Johanna Sinisalo’s tautly told story of fight and flight is also a feisty, between-the-lines social polemic—a witty, inventive, and fiendishly engaging read.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Pub Date: August 16th, 2011

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Honors:  

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Summary:

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

It’s the year 2044, and—like most of humanity—Wade Watts vastly prefers the online utopia known as the OASIS to an increasingly grim, poverty-stricken real world. Like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual reality. Somewhere inside the OASIS, it’s rumored, are hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late 20th century.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions—and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Title: The Darkest Minds

Series: The Darkest Minds #1

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Pub Date: 2012

My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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Synopis from Goodreads:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

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