Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ready Player One

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Crown
Ready Player One is the first science fiction novel I have ever read.  I love sci-fi movies like super hero films, and anything from the future or in space, but I have always stayed away from reading books on the same subject.  I guess I thought they were super geeky, boring and a waste of time.  Then one day I was on Amazon and noticed that Ready Player One was a recommended read.  I started to read the book description and felt that it was a super geeky book, but to my amazement it drew my attention because it was about the things that I love.  It had stuff about video games, the future, 80s nostalgia, and pop culture.

Unlike most reviews that I do, I wanted to start off with the bad parts of the book first.  In a way, it’s not meant to bash the book so that no else reads it, but rather it’s almost putting it up on a pedestal in admiration and nit-picking because I am a fan.  It’s because we love a movie or book, that we fan-boys can have multiple arguments about everything we love or hate.  If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t even mention it; like those long forgotten films of Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, and Street Fighter.

So my first complaint about RP1 is that it’s described as an 80’s pop culture genre film, yet I felt like it was centered mostly on late 70’s to early 80’s culture.  Most of the video games systems the main character plays (Wade Watts) are from that time, and weren’t games that I was familiar with.  While I did own an Atari when I was a kid, I don’t have fond memories of it because I was too young.  I would have preferred Wade to have played games on the NES, like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Mega Man.  The book also emphasises music from the 70’s such as Rush’s “2112” album.

I’m not saying that this is a drawback for the book, or that it’s not 80’s pop culture but that it’s not the 80’s pop culture I am more familiar with.  I would rather say that someone born in the early 70’s would enjoy it more than someone born in the early 80’s.  For me 80’s pop culture was about the NES, Who`s the Boss, Miami Vice, Transformers, GI Joe, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Rambo and many more.  Ernest Cline does make a lot of references that were 80`s related and the one`s I liked were about Star Wars, John Hughes, Back to the Future, and Pizza Parlor places that had video games.

My second complaint about the book is that it all center`s around a virtual world called the OASIS, that is still influenced by monetary differences.  While Wade in real life is an orphan pauper, in the OASIS he still is disadvantaged by his poor social status.  This means that he is unable to transport to different worlds, own a space vehicle, or upgrade on outfits.  In my opinion if an OASIS were to ever exist, it should include a few luxuries from the start like the ability to change your clothing, be able to fly or drive a sports car.  I know I like to use game cheats in games like GTA because it’s a lot more fun being rich and having infinite health, than trying to earn money for missions that take forever to complete (but I digress).  My point of the OASIS being influenced by monetary status is that Wade is trying to battle the IOI (the evil empire who wants to control power for the elites only), when the power is already in the hands of the wealthy elites.

Despite these two complaints I thought this book was one of the best books I have ever read.  Ernest Cline has the ability to create detailed environments from the words that he writes.  I especially loved reading through the description of the stacks, the place where Wade lives in real life.  I was amazed at how Cline was able to write about Wade entering the OASIS then entering a video game, then entering a chatroom, and then playing another video game and still not losing me with his descriptions.  Not only was Cline able to create worlds, but I also loved how he created unique characters that were interesting and diverse.  Each character was distinct and I felt an attachment to them.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that also loves sci-fi genre movies.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say anyone can read this book and enjoy it.  I think you need to know a few things about the genre for you to even understand it.  For example it would help if you have played Secondlife before, used youtube and chatrooms, played video games, and have lived in the 80’s.  Other helpful hints while reading this book would be to watch movies like War Games, Blade Runner, and also have a computer or ipad near-by to do a quick search in case you’re unfamiliar with a reference.  Once you start this book it will take you on a journey that will be highly addictive, enjoyable and influential.


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