Guest Post by Michelle Beebower
The main characters in both of these novels, Marie-Laure in All the Light We Cannot See and Wade in Ready Player One were survivors even before the plots of their books were heaped upon them. Marie-Laure lost her mother and her sight at a young age, but her father was tireless in his efforts to teach her self-reliance through making intricate models of the areas they lived in and then applying that knowledge by walking and counting steps between the real buildings. Wade, also lost his parents very young and had only himself to rely on.
These books are set so differently. All the Light We Cannot See occurs mainly during World War II in occupied France. The entire book is a beautiful work of art and language. The flow is amazing and the characters are all so rich they practically drip off the page. I love all of the deep relationships that are formed and the implications of how much we put out into the world can positively affect others and how interconnected we all are. My favorite lines are when Marie-Laure asks her Great Uncle, who has been afraid to go outside since the first World War, “are you ever sorry that we came here? That I got dropped in your lap and you and Madame Manec had to look after me? Did you ever feel like I brought a curse into your life?”
“Marie-Laure,” he says without hesitation. He squeezes her hand with both of his. “You are the best thing that has ever come into my life.” Tears, every time! It is no wonder this book has received all of the accolades it has. Really, a stunning piece of literature.
That being said, Ready Player One swept me up in a thrilling game of excitement and humor that totally captured my heart. Set in a dark future where we’ve used up most of the Earth’s resources, most cars and travel are obsolete and people pack into major cities as tightly as they can. Trailers are stacked on top of each other to conserve space. Wade “lives” in the laundry room of his aunt’s trailer 22 levels up. It is a bleak existence, only made better by the virtual gaming world known as the OASIS. Before the creator of the OASIS died, he created the ultimate scavenger hunt of all his favorite videogames, movies, and music from the 80’s inside the OASIS. Whoever wins the hunt inherits the company and millions of dollars. For Wade, this is the only way he can change his life and he dedicates himself to it a million percent. I should mention now that I have the biggest literary crush on this guy.
Reason #1: He is a research fiend!!! Be still my librarian heart! I’m talking, every second he has, he’s reading another biography, listening to the music, testing out games, watching more episodes of Family Ties for goodness sake! His knowledge bank is overwhelming!
Reason #2: He has hope, when he has no reason to.
Reason #3: I love his sweet, persistent crush on Art3mis. He just puts his love out there and has no shame about it. He even knows early on, that it’s more important than the game for him.
Reason #4: His snarky fearlessness. I mean, this guy sets himself up to be captured and made an indentured servant in real life to his greatest enemy in order to infiltrate the enemy’s stronghold! You can’t beat that!
Both of these books are about survivors, but while the ending of All the Light We Cannot See made me give it a respectful and loving nod, the ending of Ready Player One had me dancing to 80’s music and shouting in triumph!
Ultimate Survivor: Ready Player One.