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Ready Player One Textbook Binding – July 22 2015
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- ASIN : B012CPA0LY
- Publisher : Bookstore (July 22 2015)
- Customer Reviews:
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The story taking place mostly in a virtual world created by a person obsessed by 80s culture has me giving bonus points to the story as having grown up in the 80s myself this very much appeals to me. As for the story, I found the characters adequately built up and the futuristic world a neat concept. The writing was good and engaging, I was definitely not bored, and the story kept you enthralled as to what was going to happen next despite the perspective of the story being told after the events occurred. That removes some of the drama for me, but it was ok in this circumstance.
I give it a 5-star read because it is a very well written story with decent imagination and entertainment value. The retro eighties environment of the virtual world and in game tasks give it extra bonus points and maybe save it from being a 4-star read if say I had not grown up in that era. Recommended. Watching the movie is next.
This book is perfect for anyone who is remotely into 1980's nostalgia, video games, virtual reality, Si-Fi, or if you like the idea of being able to control your universe. This book made me excited for the future of virtual reality but also a bit scared of the repercussions it may have on the way we live our lives.
It is also full of great twists and turns that kept me staying up late to read another chapter.
Just gonna touch on the character set-ups and the conclusion here, and point out all the ways the story's morals could have been more interesting and deep, instead of the one-dimensional mass market status quo they represent.
The main protagonists: Five obsessive teenagers outcast from traditional family life and obsessed with winning this competition for their own various motives, charitable or otherwise. There's an actually interesting lesson in Art3mis' dedication to spending her winnings on charity. You should question why a social outcast would have any sense of charity towards the society that both rejects her and has literally nothing to do with her existence. Really, you're going to spend your money helping people who you have nothing in common with in a reality that you don't spend any time in? Yes. Because this is an allegory for post-globalism altruism, and the "simulation" is really the middle class western world. Otherwise, the protagonists all share this obsessive reject arc that highlights Moral Issue #1: Obsession isn't a product of being a social reject, its a cause of it, and its something we need to stop glorifying in prominent figures (read: Nikola Tesla). Being cast out of society and having sh*t living conditions are less likely to lead you to lone-wolf fantasy herodom than an unstable life teeter-tottering in halfway houses. Want to inspire teenage rejects? How about let them know there’s a whole community willing to accept them, and that they don’t have to try to prove themselves to society by going off the deep end, only to find out that society actually doesn’t care about these obsessions that are now eating them alive and giving them nothing in return, that all the money they weren’t going to win anyways wouldn’t have filled that hole left by the flight of family and friends, that Tesla’s bankrupt “wireless energy” idea would have done more harm than good, etc etc. In general, if an author chooses “obsession” as her protagonist’s main personality trait, she’s a shallow writer sidestepping character development and hedging on a social norm of glorifying that kind of thing.
The villain is a Very Evil Bad Guy Sorrento from Globalist Monopoly Incorporated who wants to ruin everything by putting up ads everywhere. Want to really drive home that the system is evil? Make it capitalist AND monopolistic. Moral Issue #2: Capitalism hates Monopolies and in the real world you we don’t know who the bad guy is. I’m going to give Cline the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s using the IOI “monopoly” as a stand-in for “dystopia” here, because the snowballing world issues the book describes have nothing to do with monopolies. That's the problem with _global_ institutions: There’s a lot of them everywhere and they’re all doing bad things cooperatively with local governments and people, and we don’t know how to resolve these issues in a way that preserves the power structures we’re familiar with and our standard of living (if you’re reading this you’re in the HDI top 20%). But if you just want to evolve from “edgy” to “edgelord”, you rail against the capitalist monopoly.
The final main character is another obsessive type, but this time is a huge narcissist. Moral Issue #1b: Nerds/outcasts can be narcissists too, and their genius doesn’t redeem their narcissism. I actually see “crazy inventor archetype guy” as bad guy #2 who set up a lottery for a reckless amount of wealth and power, with none of the redeeming virtue to direct that wealth/power towards solving (understated) global issues and push the pointless red button (aside: “gunters” and other obsessive consumers are the whole reason internet lotteries need more regulation and why Happy Meal sweepstakes come with so much fineprint). Instead he commits an inordinate amount of energy towards designing a way to make millions of people think and act like him. At least in the real world tech moguls are superficially philanthropic.
There were two conclusions at the end of the book: The conclusion of the love arc, and the conclusion of the competition. Both are problematic.
Moral Issue #3: You can love someone for their personality as long as they’re only a tiny bit physically unattractive. When Wade and Art3mis finally meet, Art3mis is self-conscious about her discolored skin but since our boy protagonist is in love with her personality it’s easy for him to overcome that monumental barrier to physical affection, and the reader learns that true love surpasses all challenges. Here’s a quick exercise to prove how lazy a writer Cline is: Swap the reveal scenes of Aech and Art3mis. “You mean my best friend is actually a hot, witty lesbian? And my crush is a heavy black woman?”. This would force the reader to confront the intended moral of overcoming physical attraction. Instead Cline’s just giving that message lipservice. The actual events weren’t chosen to stimulate the reader’s brain, they were chosen to stimulate his crotch. Challenging the status quo interferes with the story’s masturbation potential, which interferes with the story’s potential sales figures. Guess we know who the real capitalist is now.
Moral Issue #4: Nothing got solved. Between the “good guys” winning some cash and the half-as*ed red button reveal, nothing really changed for the better about the world. At some point the global scope of starvation and poverty and climate disaster transitioned to a very personal problem of Wade’s video game addiction (?), which he was able to resolve after getting $50B and a cute, hetero, cis, conventionally attractive, white girlfriend. But the pursuit of money is what caused the world its problems in the first place, and escapism works really well (>300 pages of this book testify to that), and scapegoating individuals like the Madoff/Sorento guy is how the system continues to grind forward by throwing crumbs of justice to the sheep. Evidence that Sorrento’s arrest wasn’t a happy ending but a sad one, did you know that Bernie Madoff was the only person tried and sentenced in connection with the 2008 financial collapse that ruined so many peoples’ lives? If thats what your villain coming to “justice” is based on then you’re sending the wrong message.
The main fixtures and tone in this book were so convincingly teenage fantasy-like that I actually looked up Cline's name to find out whether he himself was a teenage boy. But besides the storyline itself and all the characters involved, the 80’s trivia was on point and the writing style was really transfixing, which earns it back a star. 2/5
Like most movies based on a book, there will be differences.
This was a great read, hard to put down !!
If you lived in the 80s, or you want to know a little bit about the 80s [ like trying to understand what your parents/ grandparents are talking about ] this is the book to read !!
I liked this book, well written. Highly recommended !!!
I have ordered - Ready Player Two
Top reviews from other countries
It’s set in a dystopian future in 2044 – oil has run out, the climate is a wreck, and most people escape reality by spending their lives inside an immense virtual reality video game called the OASIS (similar to Second Life, if you’ve ever played it). It has its own currency, and kids even go to school inside the game. The creator of the game, James Halliday, died years earlier, without an heir to his immense empire, but left a video will with clues/easter eggs to be tracked in the game. Whoever solves these will inherit the OASIS, and the immense wealth that goes with it, and it’s an international obsession. Halliday was a teenager in the 80s and remained fixated with the era, so this means that everyone who is trying to solve the puzzle is just as fanatical, leading to some wonderful references. Wade Watts, our protagonist, is one of the millions trying to crack this. He’s a teenager, stony broke, living with his aunt, and at the bottom of the OASIS food chain. Through a combination of luck and skill with 80s arcade games, Wade somehow manages to be the first solve the first clue, and that’s when everything changes.
I’m not going to give you any spoilers, but I can’t recommend this highly enough. Great characters, very nasty baddies, loaded with 80s references, and actually worryingly possible – it’s definitely worth a read. Oh, and Steven Spielberg bought the film rights – the movie will be released in 2018. I hope he does it justice.
As we meet the principal protagonist we find that the world of the 2040s is in bad shape. The planet is beset with rampant global warming, economic collapse and the majority of its inhabitants living on government subsidies. So far, so, standard dystopian future! However the thing that moves this from a standard YA dystopia and into the realm of a bestseller are three key features; the hero Wade Watts, the world building and the massive amount of 80’s pop culture references.
Wade has real problems to struggle against; no mother or father, living on his own, no friends his own age and only the quest for the easter egg to keep him focused. A fat kid from the wrong side of town living on his wits and natural intelligence. With no friends or family he has to constantly fight for everything he possess.
The world building is excellent with the reader immediately able to visualise the world of deprivation, global warming and the end of oil. A world so terrible that most of the population has moved into the virtual world to get away from the grim reality of everyday life. The mechanics of the virtual world are also well detailed and thought out. As I was reading the book I kept thinking of a fully immersive version of Warcraft. The book is written from a first person perspective. The reader effectively lives inside Wade's head, which helps a lot with Wade being able to explain a lot of the 80's cultural references.
About half way through we meet the evil corporation trying to thwart our heroes plans. These "bad guys" are simple, one dimensional, greedy corporate goons. Having worked in the financial services sector for many years I recognised, their motivations and methods immediately. The bad guys are cheap and cheesy and a stark contrast with the heroes who are street punks living in a virtual world. The evil corporations motivation is greed and the heroes are motivated by fun, friendship, glory and the pursuit of the prize. Who you gonna root for — come on?
The final third of the book works well with our heroes facing bigger and more complex challenges. The finally is also well done and fun.
All in all an excellent, fun yarn. The book is well written, great entertainment with a blistering pace. If you are looking for a deeper meaning, or insight into nerd culture, this is probably not the book for you.
Having read some of the critical reviews of the book, I think they're missing the point - they compare it (often very unfavourably) with other, more highbrow authors' works. This isn't a highbrow book, it's simply a highly entertaining and imaginative romp, and on those terms it succeeds fully. I'm looking forward to further books by Cline. I'm waiting for his announced sequel Ready Player Two, and I've already downloaded Armada.