Ready Player One by Ernest Cline ~ 374 pages ~ published 8/16/11 by Crown Publishers
In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
What I Thought:
Full disclosure: I went into this book being more than a little biased to potentially hate it. My husband absolutely loathes this book, but I really wanted to read it because of the movie coming out (that is another story for another day…but lets just say I was less than pleased with the movie). So, when we were going to be taking a road trip down to Texas for my sister’s wedding, it seemed like a good time to get the audio book of this bad boy and force my husband to suffer 😉
Things I Loved:
As I said, I was fully prepared to hate this book. However, it kept me captivated the entire time. Each chapter ending left me wanting more, wanting to know what would happen next. I found the world to be intriguing, and the game itself riveting. I absolutely loved all of the 80s trivia that was liberally sprinkled in. I also really liked the relationships that were built between the High Five – Parzival, Aech (pronounced like H), Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto). I thought it was creative and clever, and I didn’t want to stop listening.
Characters I Loved:
My favorite characters were definitely Aech and Art3mis. They both had great personalities and were fun characters to interact with. At the beginning, I found Parzival (Wade) to be a bit annoying, but by the end of the book, I really liked him and was rooting for him to win.
Things I Didn’t Love:
Now, I did agree with my husband on one of the things he really didn’t like. I was not a fan of the extremely long stretches of exposition that Cline felt necessary to give. It basically felt like he took those “freeze frame” moments from the TV show Saved By The Bell to stop the action and give you a 30 minute long history lesson, then he would say ‘time in’ and the action would start up all over again. It really messed with the pacing of the story, and they were largely unnecessary. Some history was required. The first chapter was mostly the background of the creation of the OASIS and the rules behind Anorak’s Invitation (The Hunt), which was all necessary to set up the story. But, all of the extremely lengthy history lessons that followed were boring and made me drowsy 😉
I gave this book 4 STARS! I really did get super into the story, and was on the edge of my seat by the end, waiting to see what was going to happen! I docked it a star because of the pacing issues and boring exposition sections.
BTW, I would certainly give the movie maybe 2.5 stars…just saying.
Interview with Gaming Aficionado (a.k.a. my husband)
My husband, as I stated earlier, was not a fan of this book. He has actually listened to it twice now (because he is a saint and agreed to listen to it a second time for me 🙂 ). So, I would say he is more of an expert on this book than I am, which is pretty ironic!
Nathan is also a huge video game fan, most certainly a gaming aficionado, and so I thought it would be really interesting to get his opinions/perspective on how accurate the portrayal of gaming and gamer culture was in Ready Player One.
Q: Go ahead and get it out of your system…what are your major complaints about this book?
A: I don’t think it’s structured in a sensible, active way. Literal whole chapters of exposition are dropped in regularly, without interruption for plot or dialog. The way the book is structured has the main character rarely interacting with anyone (or even engaging in self-reflection). A decent idea is lost among poor structural decisions. Large swaths of this book feel like the setting descriptions a dungeon master would prepare for a role-playing session rather than a living narrative.
Q: Do you feel that the portrayal of video games, and the culture surrounding them, was accurate in the novel?
A: It is an exaggerated, fantasy portrayal of videogame culture. I think many people can get lost in an intellectual property they love, memorizing facts and dialog. This book amps it up to the nth degree, motivated by the search for Halliday’s egg. It works for me.
Q: What would you have changed in regard to the mechanics of gaming in the world of the book?
A: Fantasy and sci-fi books have to create their own internal logic in order to build suspense, aid immersion, and help the reader comprehend the action. To use the biggest contemporary example, Game of Thrones shapes our understanding of just how the Westeros universe works so we have an idea of what can and what can’t happen. Occasionally developments completely reshape our understanding of this world, but this device can’t be overused or it loses its impact.