Books and Comics

READY PLAYER ONE – ERNEST CLINE

by on 28/11/2011
Details
 
Publishers
By

Ernest Cline

Positives

As if the book was written for me

Negatives

Slightly rushed at the end

Editor Rating
Total Score


 


Straight to the Point

There is a review on the back of the book and Idon’t think I could do any better so I’ll use it here too “Completely frickingawesome… this book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt like it was written just for me” Patrick Rothfuse – 4.5/5

Preface

I am quite a prolific reader when I get a chance; easily devouring 3 or4 books in a couple of weeks when the mood takes me; which is slightly ironicconsidering I’m pretty badly dyslexic and generally have to re read most things twice to make sure it sinks in properly. But I am very particular about what I read and tend to veer towards historical narratives, over fiction; which is slightly strange considering my Love of Tolkien and Bernard Cornwall’s Sharpe novels.

  • Walk into Waterstones
  • Go to Military history section
  • Buy Tom Hollands latest (great historian by the way)
  • Leave

Luckily for me, it seems I also have an underlying guilt complex that forces me out of my comfort zone and makes me read any book I am bought or lent. My Achilles heel as it were.. I AM MATT MAN AND I AM IMPERVIOUS TO ANY BOOK THAT IS NOT HISTORY RELATED OR LORD OF THE RINGS; I LAUGH IN THE FACE OF YOUR INFERIOR BOOKAGE, HA HA!…just don’t buy or lend me anything because I will have to read it or I’ll feel guilty. Because of this neurosis I actually managed to read some fictional books, out side my normal remit and, quel surprise, really, really enjoyed them… seems there is more to the world of literature than Lord of the rings.. whoda thunk!

My first book Review for you my fellow Geeks is:

Ready Player One

by Ernest Cline

Story Synopsis

“It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies
with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.”

Review

I won’t beat about the bush I honestly didn’t think I was going to like this book. I have never read anything like it before and being a creature of habit I just didn’t think it would tick any of my Historical / Lord of the Rings / Sharpe, boxes… HOW WRONG WAS I!?

First and foremost this is a realllllly easy book to read, not in the same way spot the dog is easy to read but in that it doesn’t go into reams and reams of unnecessary detail like a lot of other books; spending 2 pages describing what the characters were having for breakfast (i’m looking at you George RR Martin. It describes the scene briefly as narrated by our hero, Wade Owen Watts, and lets you use your own imagination, which, due to the books theme and context is extremely easy to do. It reads like you have been there and done that, a sense of familiarity percolates through the entire book and it just makes it that more compelling to read. It is like you are going a long for the ride and you find yourself thinking after every page.. “I know that!” “Remember that game?!” “What a film!” and it just makes the read that little bit more enjoyable because you can picture everything and associate it with your own experience .

For example:  the book is based around people being hooked up to an MMO esq social / game / lifestyle simulator called the OASIS; an alternate reality that pretty much everyone has bought into and spends most of their lives on; and why not? The world economy is crumbling, jobs are few and the environment is fucked. OASIS not only gives children free and safe education, it offers job opportunities and lets socially inept creatures become something more than the awkward, spotty geek who can’t talk to girls / boys. It therefore  mirrors a lot of experiences that many MMORPG players will have encountered: from levelling, guilds, magic items and PVP, to relationships with other players and the emotions that come with it; including love and the reality of that emotion outside the game.

It is this familiarity, this escapism, that really hit home for me and to be honest I think will strike a chord with a lot of others too; Geek or not. We all have our escapes.. Be it MMOs, sport, Facebook or Soaps on TV and Ready Player One really taps into this. I found myself empathising with the main character Wade on so many different things, simply because I felt I had been there before and done it myself; the same conversations; the same fantasies; the same naivety; the fact that at one point I would have gladly spent my life playing a game and being a part of a fantasy than being a part of the real world.

This leads me nicely on to the second observation: As much as RP1 is a book about a Geeks struggle against a game and his bid to win “the contest” and get hallidays egg ; it is also much more than that. To start with, the gratuitous nods the Author gives to various, cartoons, music, games and computers; Is a cunning way to get Geeks, like myself hooked in. How he has managed to incorporate every vestige of geek into this OASIS experience… from World of Warcraft, Day of the Dead and Blade Runner planets to Starwars and Star Trek universes! (nice move Cline!).

Then you have the more subtle nuances, the themes that underlie the main story line like a hard underbelly: economics, global warming, the primacy of the huge multinational conglomerate  companies and the lengths they will go to monopolise the market; even that maybe spending your life on a computer game, as realistic as it may be (even though it is painted with a generous brush) might not be the way forward in life, a poignant decision that is left up in the air at the end of the book…  escapism is useful, helpful even necessary at times but you can only go so far into the looking glass before it consumes you and then you have the choice… press the red button or not?

Conclusion

Ready Player One, is fast paced, easy to read and a pleasure to a part of. It honestly is as if your life has been transformed into a book. The only criticism I would have is, it does seem to be a little TOO fast paced at times and some situations (like leveling his Avatar and his time in IOI) could have been expanded on BUT all very minor in the grand scheme of things; a great book and a must read! 

 


 

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