Firstly, if you don't have the time to read this whole review, I'll sum it up for you in a single sentence:
If you've ever rolled a D20, stayed up all night mapping out Zelda on the NES or just happen to have heard of Wil Wheaton…buy The Happiest Days of Our Lives audiobook, it's more than worth it.
Listening to the book was an almost eerie experience. At times I felt like some of Wil's stories were lifted directly from my own childhood, only with the names and locations changed. I think this is what makes this book so charming…that despite the fact that, like me, you may have grown up a decade and a few thousand miles away from the author…you instantly feel have a lot in common through sheer geek-cameraderie.
I remember standing in a toy store, determined not to leave without a Star Wars action figure like in 'Blue Light Special'. I remember being 'taught' by little-Hitler teachers who were far more interested in petty, selfish power-trips than actual teaching like in 'The Butterfly Tree'…and sadly, the loss of a beloved family pet almost exactly like "Let go – A requiem for Felix the Bear."
In fact, to me, that's almost exactly what this book is. A memoir of the experiences that 'growing up geek' brings. The discovery that the things you love deny you entry into the mainstream social circles, the feeling that you have to constantly defend your choice of hobbies, and the joy when you find someone else who feels the same way. After listening to the whole thing, I almost can't help but think of Wil's childhood recollections as 'Geek-Seed Moments'...those formative childhood experiences that steer you down the road towards geekhood.
Basically, THDOOL is a book that really hit home with me. Funny in places, serious in others and heart-wrenchingly sad in a spot or two.
One of the things I particularly liked about THDOOL is that it's not exactly your usual audiobook. It's a lot like having Wil in the same room telling you stories. He also occasionally moves away from the written text to deliver an aside about the story he's currently telling. He also delivers these stories with enthusiasm and an awful lot of emotion. Having listened to a lot of very bored, robotic sounding audiobooks, Wil's style is a real breath of fresh air.
The only real negative I have with THDOOL is that it feels a little short, clocking in at about three and a half hours. That being said, this is also reflected in the price, with THDOOL being almost half the price of "Just a Geek".
Basically, if you're a Wil Wheaton fan or just consider yourself to be a bit geeky, you'll find something you like in The Happiest Days of Our Lives. I highly recommend it.
You can find The Happiest Days of Our Lives here