That was fun.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was by no means a perfect book, but it was fun. And a little spooky.
But let’s get right into the spoiler-free review. The book is set in a dystopian future (’cause why not?) where the real world sucks, but there’s an online, immersive world called the OASIS that acts as an oasis for the weary humanity. A large portion of the OASIS’s users are on an epic quest to find a secret easter egg left by the game’s creator, which will bestow upon them billions of dollars and control of the company.
The writing isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun book to dive into. I think of it like a punk band. Punk bands don’t excel at instrumentation, but a punk song can still be a perfect song (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C). They’re not complicated, perfectly played songs, but you’d be hard-pressed to make them better than they are.
And that’s how this book feels. It’s not perfectly written. There’s some clunkiness to it, especially early on. You can see things being nested throughout, and there’s a liberal dose of deus ex machina throughout (I feel incredibly pretentious writing deus ex machina). And I forgave it all, because you dive into a fictional world about a world where people dive into a fictional world (and occasionally dive into fictional worlds within the fictional worlds within the fictional world; maybe Elon Musk is right, and it’s all a simulation, but who’s to say the real world beyond our simulation isn’t also a simulation? Yeah, think about that superbeing overlords.).
And when I say dive into, I mean dive into. It was a bit surreal to read a book about a character diving into these multiple levels and following right along. There was an addictive quality to the book that was necessary to overcome some of its technical shortcomings.
If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend it. As far as the dystopian books I’ve read goes, this one doesn’t fit with any of the others. And that’s a good thing.
I’ll keep an eye out for the author’s next book, Armada. I like his ideas more than his writing, but this isn’t rare for me. Codex Alera was a six-part series of me liking the plot more than how the plot was enacted, so sometimes the big ideas cover up the smaller blemishes. And if Cline can keep writing addictive books, I think I’ll do alright.
Ok, spoiler zone:
Have we lost ’em? Good. Read on, cool kids.
The convenient things that the character just happened upon were the major flaw in the book. Some of it was nested, which I can tolerate, but some of it was just randomly placed. It’s clear our protagonist is adept at the task, but it’s also clear he’s not actually the most adept. And then he just happens to get an extra life that no one else had. That one was a bit much. But fine. We can deal.
The one thing to play out that I was waiting on was to see how Og was going to have been there all along. I was originally banking on him being one of the other kids, but him creepily loitering invisible in the room also kind of works. Again, deus ex machina. Again, this is one I can tolerate. It was a little bit better set up than the arcade coin, but it was this type of thing that hurt the book the most. I could tolerate the sometimes clunky writing, but not the “random things saves the day” repetition.
But that’s all I have to say about that. Stay frosty, friends.