Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Ready Player One (review)
Ready Player One takes place almost entirely within a video game. It's the type of concept that's either going to be AMAZING or fail. I just can't imagine any middle ground. The whole premise is a big gamble, but it pays off majorly. This book is awesomely unique and completely memorable.
Your initial reaction might be "Will this book appeal to non-gamers?" Personally, I don't game. But somehow I tend to enjoy gaming themed entertainment (particularly The Guild, oh how I love that show). I feel like this story will appeal to a variety of nerds. Yes, it takes place in a game, but there's a lot that'll remind you of other internet communities that you might hang around (for me I saw a lot of my YouTube experience in this book and the Gunters reminded me of olden days of puzzle solving for lonelygirl15. Most of which I just watched smarter people figure out).
It's a nerdtastic search throughout the Oasis (the video game) for an easter egg hidden by the games recently deceased creator. His entire fortune (and it's HUGE) will go to whichever player can find the egg first. The main character Wade is competing with the evil Sixers, a corporation trying to find the egg so they can take ownership of the game, Gunter clans (groups of allied egg hunters) as well as his best friends.
The book takes place is a believably dystopian future, a world where trailers are stacked for maximum real estate, only the rich can afford cards and people escape to a happier world inside the Oasis. Even though the characters spend most of their time in-game, there's actually no problem connecting or relating to them. They are real. Sometimes I feel like I've met them around the internet.
I feel like a lot of my friends liked this book more than me. Don't get me wrong I REALLY liked this book. But at times I found myself zoning out when it went into Halliday history dump mode. Yes the players needed to know a lot about Halliday's life, but at times it had a tendency to ramble on longer than I thought was necessary. As the reader, I'm not sure I need to know nearly as much information as I was given. I would mentally check out then when I checked back in normally I hadn't missed much.
I also had a little bit of trouble buying into the depths of the romantic relationship. Yes I know people flirt via the internet. I have flirting tendencies myself sometimes. But this book actually said that people had met, dated and got married in the Oasis without ever meeting. That I had trouble believing. I can't imagine many men going into a marriage without you know...previous physical contact. That of course wasn't our two main characters because they are teenagers, but that line hung in the back of my mind as I watch their relationship progressed and planted a seed of doubt.
Yes I know I sound picky. But here's the thing about really good books--they give you room to be picky. Saying "This book had 2 flaws that stuck out to me" tells you how good the rest of this book was. The hunt for the egg really captivated me, which is why I wanted to get past some of the long drawn out history sections. There was a fortune up for grabs and the main character is making moon eyes at someone's avatar, giving us history lessons and THERES A FORTUNE UP FOR GRABS.
This book has everything you want. An evil corporation out to ruin the game (wait, didn't that just happen on The Guild too?), life and death stakes in the real world as well as the game, first love, 80s nostagalia and the internet. I listened to the audiobook and Wil Wheaton was AMAZING as the narrator. This led to more than one LOL moment (especially when Wil Wheaton playing Wade had to mention Wil Wheaton the old geezer) and gave this book even more nerd street cred.
For the peoples of the internets, people who like video games and people who like unique Sci-fi this book is highly recommended. For everyone else, you should give it a try too. It's something different and thats really rare.