Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

This book had all kinds of features that normally make me crazy (whiney awkward young white male protagonist; teen inner monologue/dialogue that is trying so hard to be 'with it' & happenin' that it's painful; main character spending a lot of time not interacting with people so that everything that's happening has to be described through narration/inner monologue; lack of much dramatic tension). And yet, I was engrossed all the way through & just had to find out what happened next.

Somebody somewhere described this book as a cross between The Matrix and Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which is absolutely spot-on. (Late eccentric billionaire creator of the world's now-pervasive virtual reality "second life"-style video game creates a wacky contest wherein the winner must prove his/her worth by solving a series of riddles & tasks in order to inherit said billionaire's fortune, including the game.) I didn't rush to read it when it came out because I knew the riddles/tasks were all based on kind of 70s/80s geek/nerd/gamer/whatever-you-want-to-call-it culture, which I've had a decent amount of exposure to but haven't really lived, & I was afraid a lot of it wouldn't make sense to me because of that. But, it turned out my passing exposure was plenty. I feel like I got 90%+ of the references & jokes, & any I missed clearly weren't crucial to the story. Still, I can absolutely see how people who are/were really into all that stuff & have much deeper knowledge of the culture would find it even MORE entertaining & amusing because they've actually lived it & probably catch a bunch of stuff I didn't.

So yeah. It was super entertaining, & complex & clever in terms of all the riddles/tasks/challenges, & it's clear that the author put a TON of time & effort into getting all that right & making it work out. The story, characters, etc., though, are not super deep or complex (predictable plot points, fairly tension-free, ending never in doubt), which probably makes it kind of perfect as a "beach read for geeks." I enjoyed it & was glad I finally gave it a shot.

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