Last weekend I was at a family function and in between helping my son with the restaurant’s menu and try to catch the score of the Bronco’s Bill’s game (I had no real horse in the race for me but I wanted to see how Manning’s game was shaping up) my wife’s cousin handed me a copy of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. He had received multiple copies in various Loot Crates; after reading the book he thought it would be in my wheelhouse. I read the back cover and after navigating the hyperbolic praise I was able to tease out the 2 paragraphs that described the story and decided it was worth a read.
Two days later I reached the end of Wade’s adventure (I could have finished faster but I had to go to work, help the kids with homework and all that real world jazz). The book was a page turner, the action/story moved quickly that is for sure. Structurally the book was simple and straight forward; word choice made it easy to read. In other words the writing wasn’t dense or complex. I would say that it could fit in with other YA novels if it were not for the use (albeit sparse) of profanity (F-bombs do be here) and sexual content (not gratuitous but not something I would want my middle schooler reading).
The story was a familiar in fact it came across as a version of the “farm boy savior” that crops up in fantasy fiction. The antagonists are stereotypical and fairly one dimensional; I am not saying that the story is hurt by these two facts just don’t expect more depth.
I grew up during the 70s and 80s, so I instantly connected to the geek references of the era. I have piles of memories of time spent plugging quarters/token in to the tall cabinets of Joust, Pac-man, Defender, Afterburner and countless others. Each memory was pleasantly brought forward with every page. The 80s references while great for nostalgia it was also heavy handed. When I say every page, I mean every page had some reference to a video game, song, movie or role playing game. At times it bordered on getting in the way of the story.
In terms of genre it fits nicely as cyberpunk (lite); there is enough of a Gibson and Stephenson feel to the story that the world and rules are familiar. There were some logic issues and technology gaps that prevent it from being true cyberpunk. The difference is like Hard Science Fiction and Space Opera.
The voice, those tiny little hints of agenda, of the novel/book does not have a high opinion of our own time. There is a strong distaste for the corporate world, religion and the human condition on the whole.It wasn’t over bearing but it was very clear.
All of that aside the book was a decent read and if you have a childhood filled with John Hughes, arcades and dice bags it will feel like a comfortable pair of ripped acid washed jeans.