Monday, August 10, 2015

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

This sci-fi/fantasy novel takes place in the near future on an Earth which is in the middle of a massive energy crisis and much of the natural resources have been depleted. Most people escape this dismal
reality by spending most of their lives in the OASIS, a vast, fully-immersive, virtual reality online world/game that has taken over the Internet and our way of life. The simulation's billionaire designer has recently died and to pass on his fortune, he has created an epic contest where the player's must use knowledge of 80's pop culture to track down a hidden Easter Egg buried within the OASIS. The book follow's young Wade Watts, one of the gunters (egg hunters) who is on a quest to find Halliday's Egg. But once he becomes the first player to find the first clue, he realizes that the contest is much more dangerous than he could have imagined.

Once I started reading Ready Player One I got totally sucked in. I mean, who could resist such an awesome premise? Time and pages just flew by and my mood rose every time I picked the book up. Now that's a conundrum because multiple times throughout the book I cringed at some of the writing. Cline's desire to impress the reader with his vast knowledge of 80's pop culture got in the way at times, constantly stopping the story to drone on and on for three pages about some random video game or movie. And although, I am familiar with a lot of this stuff, it still seemed to go on for a while, with some of it not having any impact on the story whatsoever. For example, why have an entire chapter of characters arguing about the quality of Ladyhawke and not have it affect the story? It would have been really cool for Wade to eventually have to use his unpopular knowledge (that no one else would have) of Ladyhawke to gain the advantage in the game and make this chapter important, but instead it just sits there as a missed opportunity. And there was a lot of really pedestrian writing throughout the novel, like repeating pieces of dialogue or ideas throughout the book, as if Cline forgot that he wrote about the same exact thing a few chapters before.
And there are also awkward, repetitive exchanges like this:
"It looks just like Rivendell," Aech said, taking the words right out of my mouth.
I nodded. "It looks exactly like Rivendell from the Lord of the Rings movies," I said.
Why have I spent most of the beginning of this review harping on the negative stuff you ask? Well, because I wanted to stress how impressive it is that Cline, despite all of these issues, managed to make my wide-eyed, whimsical self grab my critical self, shake him and say, "Stop being a hater and a boring party-pooper, Richard, this book is awesome!" It's so imaginative and filled with great ideas, like the stacked trailer parks (how great of a visual is that?), and the creative rules within the OASIS itself. There's such a joyous sense of adventure, a celebration of geekiness and friendship, and a true love for the material that is laced into this book that it's pretty difficult not to look at any shortcomings and say, "Screw it, let me jump on this ride, strap in and have a total blast!"

I would recommend this to anyone, so buckle up, forgive the shortcomings, and get ready for a lively and captivating summer read!

GRADE: B+

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, that's a great blurb. I don't ordinarily do sci-fi, but I'm interested. Just recently found your site. Nice job.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a bunch JD! Yea, give it a go! Fun book.

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