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[Monday Reading] Love Among Liars and Gunters in “We Were Liars” and “Ready Player One”

Love among Liars and Gunters


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Two things before I talk about liars and gunters, I’d like to invite you all to join our Literary Voyage Around the World Reading ChallengeHow awesome would it be to travel to different countries in books.

We have also launched our Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Bookshelf – which I invite you all to check out. Over 500 multicultural/ international picturebook titles for you to see.

I read these two young adult novels before 2017 ended, and was fascinated by them. Hence, I decided to mine them both for themes about love.

We Were Liars

Written By: E. Lockhart
Published by: Hotkey Books, 2014
ISBN: 147140398X (ISBN13: 9781471403989). Literary Awards: Georgia Peach Book Award (2015), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee for Young Adults (2016), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2015), The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2015), Lincoln Award (2016), Bookworm Best Award for Best Fiction (2014), Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2014), The Magnolia Award for 9-12 (2016). Book was gifted to me. Book photos taken by me.

I found this novel to be a pleasant surprise. I had no plans of reading it, until my 16 year old daughter demanded that I read it a month ago (while she was still on school holidays), after she has binge-read it in two days. She claimed that she needed to discuss it with someone, and so I did.

While I could not connect with any of the characters – my middle class sensibility found the lifestyle of the Sinclairs fascinating, mainly because their affluence and privileged position seemed several layers removed from reality as most people experience it. Imagine having an entire island all to yourself, to enjoy every summer, with separate houses dotted along the island for each of the three Sinclair daughters and their families.

Since our reading theme is about love, allow me to jump right into the love story between Gat and Cadence – classic poor guy-rich girl story – except that Lockhart made salient the notion of privilege, more keenly felt with Gat’s realness, and feelings of being an outsider, and his existential queries about life’s meaning.

It was actually Gat’s presence that made the entire rich-lifestyle somewhat tolerable for me. The fact that he is also a reader made me gravitate naturally towards his character. He brought a raw, pulsating authenticity that Cadence and her cousins dismissed in an offhand manner; because things only pass through them, but rarely penetrate them. For some reason, this is what they seem to attribute to being “normal” – any intense emotion or signs of emotional breakdown should be dealt with immediately with pills, alcohol, or therapy. Or a trip to Europe, that works too. They are island owners, for crying out loud.

Hence, I was even more dismayed at the pettiness, the shallow concerns, the mindless bickering, and such palpable and pitiful waste even while there seems to be so much. I have to credit Lockhart’s literary craftsmanship that allowed such two-dimensional, superficial characters to come alive, enough that readers love to hate them.

I enjoyed how Lockhart gradually built up the narrative; the foreshadowing constant throughout. The reader knows that something terrible has happened to make Cadence lose fragments of her memory. I have to admit, though, that finding out the twist in the end seemed anticlimactic for me – primarily because I imagined worse things than what actually transpired – must be due to my old age. Regardless, I found Lockhart’s writing to be lyrical, evocative while being sparse, and the unraveling of the plot quite masterful.

Ready Player One

Written By: Ernest Cline
Published by: Broadway Books, 2012 (First Published 2011)
ISBN: 0307887448 (ISBN13: 9780307887443). Literary Awards: Prometheus Award for Best Novel (2012), ALA Alex Award (2012), Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), Tähtivaeltaja Award Nominee (2013), Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work (2016), Green Mountain Book Award Nominee (2015)

This is another novel that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick for myself. However, this is our January book-of-the-month for one of my book clubs here in Singapore, so I had to. And I am glad I did. I did not expect to thoroughly enjoy this novel as much as I did. While I do consider myself a geek of sorts, my geekiness doesn’t hold a candle in the least to Wade Owen Watts, aka Parzival – and the High Five (what that is, you will need to find out on your own when you pick up this book to read).

Set in some dystopian future in 2044, it paints a bleak portrait of young people who would rather be in the virtual world, the OASIS, rather than face an impoverished and starving planet that is reeling with the damages brought about by climate change. I found the entire concept of OASIS to be brilliant – and also slightly reminiscent of Second Life, which is also a virtual universe that is similar to multiplayer online games – except that the OASIS blows the mind away, especially given the fact that it’s practically for free.

The Founder and CEO of OASIS is an unorthodox, strange, and highly intelligent (but socially inept) man whose death caused a major upheaval to the online community. Without any descendants, James Halliday bequeathed his entire company worth gazillions of dollars to anyone who would be able to find his “golden egg” buried amidst geeky riddles and multiple games-within-games.

So… the love angle. Right. On to our reading theme. Wade is one of the many hopeful egg-hunters out there – shortened to ‘gunters.’ He stumbled upon the first clue which stumped an entire corporation determined to establish control of this international behemoth of an industry by finding Halliday’s egg themselves. However, it was Parzival and Art3mis who were smart enough to figure out Halliday’s breadcrumbs. Naturally, a romance would ensue, albeit virtually. Truth be told, I found the virtual love affair entertaining. I like the self-deprecating voice of the narrator, notwithstanding the occasional false bravado.

Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

I have to concede that there may be so many allusions or references that I may have missed completely – I am a Dungeons and Dragons virgin – the cost of playing that game while I was growing up seemed prohibitive, and its rules known only to a select few; and I am not really what one would call a video game player, I barely know the reason why not to get cheap elo boosting. Yet, it is to Cline’s credit that I remained as absorbed as I was with the whole story, as I cheered the High Five on, and hoped that they would triumph over the faceless machinery intent on privatizing the Oasis. This is a gripping and fast-paced novel that proved to be a guilty pleasure for me during the last few days of 2017. And no, you don’t have to play video games or be a geek to appreciate it.

So here is the movie trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of this riveting novel – enjoy!

#LitWorld2018GB Update: USA Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

16 comments on “[Monday Reading] Love Among Liars and Gunters in “We Were Liars” and “Ready Player One”

  1. Thank you for the reminder to put Ready Player One on hold. The audiobook always has so many holds on it (STILL 😭) and I’ve heard it’s awesome. I also want to read it before the movie comes out, so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also enjoyed Ready Player One and I don’t get all the references either. Glad you felt the same way. I will likely watch the movie too, it was an engaging story and like you, I loved the OASIS.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sabby Fox

    I loved Ready Player One! It was such a good book for me and I was thoroughly surprised.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed We Were Liars and reading your thoughts about the novel. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lindabaie

    I enjoyed both of these, Myra, was alarmed at the behavior in the first one as you are, not a lifestyle I would ever know. And I too probably missed references in Ready Player One, but I liked the adventure and the ‘new’ and sad world created. Thnnks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jana Eschner

    Both of these selections look like good ones to put on my To Read list. The weather is so cold and nasty, there is plenty of time for reading now! Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed We Were Liars…and now have Genuine Fraud waiting on my Kindle. Enjoy your week, and here are MY WEEKLY UPDATES

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read We Were Liars so long ago I barely remember the story arc.
    Having no idea what a gunter was, I got temporarily lost in the urban dictionary searching for meaning. Seriously that was too much information! You now have me fascinated by Ready Player One and have just put a hold on for he audiobook.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sarah Sammis

    I haven’t read either of your books. Have a good week. The kids are back in school but my husband has one more week off. Come see what I’m reading

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh My Gosh.. Ready Player One… le sigh.. I am SO EXCITED! I am going to have to put We Were Liars on my list of things to read though 🙂
    Thanks for sharing and Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We love this line in your post,”I found Lockhart’s writing to be lyrical, evocative while being sparse, and the unraveling of the plot quite masterful.” We couldn’t agree more. The way the plot unfolds is brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We Were Liars is definitely a book you want someone else to read after you finish it just so you can talk about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Excited to check out your SEL list!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Round Up of My Literary Journey and My Best in Books Across Quarterly Reading Themes – Gathering Books

  15. Pingback: [Book Quote Tuesday] Proving One’s Strength – Gathering Books

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