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Minecraft: The Island: A Novel by Max Brooks
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Minecraft: The Island: A Novel

by Max Brooks

Series: Minecraft

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I had a pretty serious Minecraft addiction for a few years, building a 30,000 block perimeter road around my kingdom that stretched 5,000 blocks east to west and 10,000 blocks north to south. Inside this boundary was a modest castle, sixteen fortified villages, a limited overworld subway system, a smaller netherworld subway system, a dozen desert temple homes, four jungle temple homes, an oasis house built around a well, an excavated end portal temple and a completely drained ocean temple, all connected by a cross grid of roads that went straight from one perimeter road to the other. I had plans to double the size of the perimeter road, turning my rectangle into a square, but I quit cold turkey a year or two ago when I realized living the Minecraft life was squeezing out the time I needed to live my real life and read books. So now I spend my free time compulsively writing Goodreads reviews (692 so far) of the 500 books and graphic novels I manage to read each year.

That said, this book was a nice little fix after my long period of self-denial. It was great to read along as the character explored the Minecraft world and learned the ins and outs of crafting and mining. It reminded me of watching over my daughter's shoulder as she played the game and viewed YouTube videos posted by other players. I've glanced at some other Minecraft fanfic, and it always seemed like the writer was cramming a cheesy fantasy tale into a Minecraft setting. I like how Brooks is using his book to address the very nature of the Minecraft universe.

I could have done without the heavy-handed vegetarian theme and would have preferred a lighter touch with the self-help, character-building rules for life scattered throughout, but the rest was quite enjoyable. I'd certainly welcome a sequel. ( )
  villemezbrown | Jul 28, 2018 |
In this story a castaway wash's onto a island, the only problem its made entirely out of cubes including are hero. In this book he has to learn how to kill monsters, cook, and build, all well figuring out the quirks of crafting. It must suck especially sense his only friends is a cow and three sheep. Then he finds a underground cave with survival books but when are hero gets stuck he has to use his head to survive. ( )
  averyp.B3 | Jan 10, 2018 |
What if you went to bed one night and woke up in the middle of the ocean? And had suddenly turned into a blocky version of yourself and been transported to a land where different laws of physics and everything else now applied? That is the premise of this book. Our hero manages eat, build a dwelling and avoid monsters in the previously-unknown-to-him Minecraft world, all without ever getting killed.

This book was recommended by my mom, who knows that I play Minecraft. It has an interesting premise. But - it's awful. It's not awful because it's a children's book. I have read quite a few children's books as an adult. It's awful because it has no real plot, no interesting description and lots of kid slang. There is nothing in it to really grab the reader, and the writing is not a pleasure to read. I'm guessing it's intended for 8 - 12 year old boys, with the idea of getting them to read something - anything. I would be interested to get their opinion. (Just went and looked at Amazon, and their opinion is pretty high, actually.) But would it be the gateway to more reading? I don't know, but it's not terribly inspiring and I think I'd rather play Minecraft than read this book about it. ( )
  SilverKitty | Jan 5, 2018 |
I was recommended this book off the back of my reviews of the Five Nights at Freddy's novels, but it's really an animal of a different kind. While the FNAF novels are designed so that anyone can pick them up and enjoy, the Minecraft novel is clearly written with fans of the games in mind. If you've never played Minecraft before, this book will make no sense whatsoever and so I'd strongly advise that you don't waste your time.

However, it's difficult for me to understand the appeal of this novel for fans. The entire book painstakingly recreates the experience of playing Minecraft, down to the mechanics of moving objects around a grid to craft items. I'm personally a believer that in-game mechanics don't make for fun reading. They simply do not work in a fictional setting. At times, this book read more like a walkthrough than an actual story.

However, if you remove the book from its subject matter, it doesn't really function as a novel. There is no plot whatsoever. Unnamed Minecraft Protagonist just digs further into the island, learning how to fight, craft and survive as he goes. There is no structure to this book really, beyond his gradual creation of better weapons and tools.

The protagonist himself also has no real personality. Like the avatar in game, he's just a blank slate that the reader can project themself onto. He has no memories of his past life, and does not regain any as the story progresses. The one saving grace is that he can be moderately entertaining, especially in his rambling conversations with the cow and sheep that he finds on the Island.

So, in all, this novel really can be skipped. If you've never played Minecraft, it makes no sense. If you have, the best you will probably gain from it is a few crafting ideas. If you're curious, I'd suggest just buying the game instead. ( )
1 vote ArkhamReviews | Aug 31, 2017 |
My original Minecraft: The Island audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

If you are a fan of the game Minecraft, this book will fill the void when you are unable to play. Minecraft: The Island, written by Max Brooks (World War Z), takes our main character from day one in the world of Minecraft to feeling somewhat comfortable with his new surroundings. The audiobook version can be purchased narrated by either Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda) or Samira Wiley (Orange is the new black). I’m reviewing the version narrated by Jack Black, which I enjoyed very much. If you are under fifty, nearly everyone under this age has either played Minecraft or knows what the game is about. If you are coming to this book without prior knowledge of Minecraft the game, I recommend you first get some hands-on experience as it will make the book that much more enjoyable. Not having firsthand knowledge of the landscape, creatures, day and night cycles, etc., you may lose out on what makes this book fun and interesting. It should be noted that the book is written at an eight to ten year-old level and is classified as a kids book. You will be sadly disappointed if you are coming to this book with hopes of adult deep character development, storyline, or romance. If you like Minecraft and can put up with some of the silly and light-hearted humor expected in a book of this genre, I think you should pick up the book.

This book contains everything that makes the game of Minecraft interesting. It is full of discovery, crafting, building and of course survival. For those familiar with the game, you may find it interesting that the main character’s discovery process was unlike what most who start the game experience. It was not simply seeking shelter, building a fire, survive the first night one is accustomed to, but more a unique discovery and journey from the norm; for me that was refreshing and new. Those who enjoy the Literary RPG (LitRPG) genre, you will find this is right in that niche with a Minecraft focus. Like with the game itself, the book is full of new and wonderful discovery told in a way that is engaging and fun. The game of Minecraft is very interactive, and this book has that same feel when you read or listened to it. Overall it is a clean, fun, action-packed story that is targeted towards players of the game. I was excited to learn that the author kept to the roots of the game and it is the first book released approved by Mojang.

Although Minecraft is an open world where the player is able to take whatever action desired, knowing there may be consequences, the book has that same feeling of being vast and open-ended. I like that it was not all about survival and monsters. You get a sense of the complexity of the game and scale of the world itself as he character experiences the world around him. The author included many not required additional aspects making the book interesting and fun. For example, our player befriends some of the local livestock early in the game and they take this wonderful journey along with him; except during his mining. The book is ripe with friendships, sacrifice, and exploration.

As with the game, this story is full of encounters, disasters, and a time of recovery. Encounters can include anything from the standard monsters (mobs), items (books, rugs, records, spawners, etc.) and so much more. Apart from one section where the main character references being “green” (referring to recycling), there were no agendas being pushed by the author, the book really is simply intended for shear entertainment. I often include in my reviews a section warning parents or young readers of any potential offensive or more adult subject matter. Even with a few sections of the book containing crude childish humor, the book’s age is appropriate for its intended audience. The humor is what would be expected in a book of this type and category. I will say that a few quips made me laugh out loud as I imagined the character being frustrated that he was unable to put his hands on his hips; for example.

Let me turn to the narration by Jack Black (voice of Kung Fu Panda). Even though he has not narrated many other audiobooks on Audible, his narration is professionally done; as expected from a person who does character voiceovers for a living. Random House, the publisher of this title on Audible, did not pull any punches when it came to lining up narration talent. I liked Jack Black’s rich and deeper voice making the story feel vaster and at times darker. The narrator had great inflection and the audio did not contain any noticeable issues such as swallows, page turns, etc. I also liked some of the added extras included in the audiobook edition. The inclusion of sound effects and music brought the book to life. They were not over used, but became the icing on top of the cake.

If you are a fan of Minecraft, your decision to pick up this book is something you will not be disappointed with. Although geared towards younger audiences, I think there is enough that nearly all ages can laugh and enjoy the book. It is so much better with existing knowledge of Minecraft itself, so make sure that if you plan on reading this book you have some prior knowledge of the game.

Audiobook was provided for review by the publisher. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Aug 24, 2017 |
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An official tie-in to the globally popular video game traces the story of a new hero stranded in the world of Minecraft who must survive a harsh environment while unraveling the secrets of a mysterious island.

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