Since April 20 is the UN’s Chinese Language Day, I decided to finally commit to reading the US release of Chinese science fiction superstar Cixin Liu’s novel The Three-Body Problem. Following the story of Chinese scientists involved with a secret project to contact alien life, The Three-Body Problem is written wonderfully, and the footnotes from translator Ken Liu enhance the novel as well as the reader’s understanding of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, where the story has its roots. While the book’s more scientific aspects may be intimidating or difficult for casual readers, Three Body is a great read and an excellent introduction to China’s most popular science fiction author and a great read for those who enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s Anathem as much as I did.
– Feliza Casano, Editor
It’s only six episodes in, but Chris Gethard’s new podcast Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People is already the one I most look forward to every week. Usually shortened to Beautiful/Anonymous, the podcast has a pretty simple premise–Chris opens the phone lines for people to call him and talk about whatever they want for up to an hour; the only catch it that they can’t say their name. This, along with the fact that they can hang up at any time but Chris can’t, gives them the freedom to say and talk about anything they want in an oddly public safe space. It almost feels like you’re listening in on therapy sessions, and Chris’ genuine interest in each caller is enough to make me want to cry. In fact, near the end of episode one, when both Chris and the caller start yelling to get their frustrations and emotions out, I almost did. Do yourself a favor and check this podcast out; you absolutely won’t regret it.
– Allison Racicot, Audiobook Reviewer
I’ve been getting back into reading YA recently, particularly fantasy YA. At the beginning of April, I finished all three books in the Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. The last book in the trilogy, The Winner’s Kiss, was just released on March 29th, so I had to read the first two books, The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime, before the third one became available. I really enjoyed this series. It’s classified as fantasy, but doesn’t actually include any fantastical elements; however, it does take place in an alternative world that is not our own and contains lots of fantasy-related things, like ball gowns, horse-drawn carriages, swords, and royal-political intrigue.
The setting is inspired by Roman and Greek history, with the two central nations, Valoria and Herran, representing each of these places respectively. The two main characters, Kestrel and Arin, are star-crossed lovers, much like in Romeo and Juliet. They meet after Kestrel buys Arin at a slave auction. The title of the series comes from this auction in which Kestrel overpays for Arin, and thus, finds that she has the winner’s curse—the idea that those who win at an auction also pay the highest price and in doing so suffer. Kestrel is Valorian, and Arin is Herrani, but they share a love for music and soon discover their love for one another. The books move fast, but not too fast, and cover a wide variety of situations and settings, causing the characters to actually change and grow by the end of the books.
– Rine Karr, Anime Writer
I just finally finished watching the second season of Daredevil on Netflix, and while it wasn’t perfect, I think it’s worth watching for Elodie Young’s performance as Elektra. She’s incredible to watch in the fight scenes, but she also brings an inner complexity to the character that goes beyond what’s written for her. She brings the show to James Bond levels of cool where it was more about scrappy charm in the first season, a change in tone that was surprising but that I didn’t hate. I ultimately ended up being disappointed with her story arc, but feeling nothing short of awe towards the way she performed it.
– Laura Jewell, Staff Writer
I’m currently reading Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Bronstein, and it’s awesome. I loved her Portlandia, and (to my embarrassment) I recently found out she was part of the riot grrrl movement/genre. I grew up listening to 70s and 80s rock, so ever since high school I’ve been trying to get acquainted with other rock subgenres, either through listening or reading. I also enjoy a good memoir whenever I can find one. So once I saw a friend reading this on Goodreads, I had to give it a try. And I have to say, I am not disappointed. It’s at times funny, at times heartbreaking; all in all, Carrie’s book has all the components of a good memoir. So, if you love Sleater-Kinney, then this book is for you. If you’re into music and the music scene in general, read this book. If you watch Portlandia and enjoy Carrie Bronstein’s work, read this book. Even if none of the above apply to you, and you like good and honest growing-up or coming-of-age stories, give this book a try.
– Katherine Ruiz-Diaz, Graphic Novel Reviewer
Last Monday I received in the mail the Holy Grail of 2015 Nerd-dom: Star Wars: The Force Awakens on DVD/Blu-ray. On Friday night my roommates and I had a couple of friends over and watched the movie with a running commentary on all of the wonderful/silly/hilarious/sad things we could find that we hadn’t remarked on while seeing it in theaters (Rey is bae, all things Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig as the secret Stormtrooper, Kylo Ren’s glorious hair, TR-8R, Finnamon Roll, Captain Handsome, the adorable BB-8). And then we watched it again on Saturday afternoon because my roommate’s boyfriend hadn’t watched it with us the night before.
While on a totally different level than the original trilogy, The Force Awakens does a really great job of meshing the essence of the franchise with a new(ish) story (we can all agree that Poe is actually this trilogy’s Princess Leia). I’m really excited for the expansion of the Star Wars universe with Rogue One and the Han Solo movie, and to see where Rey’s story takes her next in the trilogy (Episode VIII opens with a wide shot of Rey and Luke on Ach-To, cuts to a close up of Luke’s face – “So who talks first? Do I talk first?”). I’m also deep in love-hate with Kylo Ren, who is constantly defining the idea that understanding does not equal condoning bad behavior.
– Christina Casano, Assistant Editor