Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Quick Book Review - Ready Player One

I've had some time off for the first time in a minute, so I've been catching up on my reading, among other activities. I also restarted Grand Theft Auto V, but only because my original restart after not playing for ten months got sidetracked, so I started over starting over. But that's not what we're talking about here, my reading is. I've gotten a couple of books from my brother, wandered down the aisle of my local used bookstore and paid more for shipping than for the actual book on Amazon. In any case, although its a few years old, I'd heard a lot about Ready Player One, so I grabbed a used copy and settled in.

I should have been thrilled at this book. I've been into comics and video games since forever, probably qualified as a actual nerd in my youth and I can say truthfully this story didn't just wallow in nerd lore, it bathed in it. To excess. And then turned it into a weird Tron variant. And maybe because of that, the whole thing failed to gel for me.

 I understand the impetus of the story - after he dies, a famous Steve Jobs-esque character (one who actually coded) creates a global treasure hunt with the prize being his vast fortune. This premise, with the clues all focused on this billionaire's own obsession with the eighties made the main character's  focus, and that of the other "players" make some sense. But the weak framing quickly turned the story into a Clive Cussler derivative, in that you know the main character is going to win out in the end, you just don't know how yet. There was never really any doubt now that I think back about it.

It's clear what he was going for - the underdog to hero trope - but the execution is so poorly done, so blatant that you're almost rushing to the next part to see if anything interesting happens. Further there is no real character development, the antagonists are straight from central casting,  the main character has a decided lack of scope in what he relates, there is no real world building outside the virtual environment and the obstacles pop up like Star Trek story points i.e., the only reason they mention X at the start of this chapter is so you'll know why they used X at the end. It's a series of tropes, cliches and shortcomings molded into a totality using nerdy details to hide story holes.  

I read it all the way through in about three days, but it was a fairly good read and I can appreciate it for what it was. I've read too much and for too long and I realize a story doesn't have to be a masterpiece to be enjoyable. And it was enjoyable. I however, wouldn't put it on my suggested reading list.

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