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Ready Player One back to reviews
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Spend Your Quarters Elsewhere
I had heard of this book from my friend some time ago, and decided to check it out at the library.

I wasn't impressed.

The concept is somewhat interesting: A chance to get billions of dollars in a post-apocalyptic world by finding an easter egg in a game. How could that go wrong?

Well, for starters, it's not caused by something like nuclear radiation, like in Hokuto no Ken or Fallout. It's caused by, and I am not kidding, humanity running out of fossil fuels. Are you serious? This takes place in 2085; You'd think by that time, we would have seen it coming and developed another energy source, but no. Cities start falling apart, there's barely any law anymore, etc. Really, it's never explained why this causes the fall of humanity. It's made even stupider when you consider that the OASIS, a MMO that pretty much everyone plays, somehow manages to exist in this world; By the way, it runs on electricity, so couldn't that be an alternative to gas? It's stuff like this that breaks your Willing Suspension of Disbelief.

There's also the main character, who, in the first fucking chapter, goes on a huge speech about how God isn't real, and that religion is bullshit, etc. When I read that blatant Author Tract, I closed the book, banged my head on the wall multiple times, and then resumed reading. I am an agnostic, and that made me facepalm.

The pop-culture references aren't clever enough to make up for it, and come off more as blatant and unnecessary. The story somewhat justifies it with the easter egg being hidden in puzzes that involve those kind of references, but that doesn't explain why it comes out of nowhere to reference them blatantly.

Overall, this book isn't shit, but mediocre. The OASIS is kinda interesting, but you'll have to get through a lot of stupid shit along the way. Those who love 80's video games may be able to sit through all the bullshit, but the references aren't good enough to make it a great book to them, and seeing that I am not so easily swayed by such methods, it's not saving it from me calling this book a mediocre waste of time.
My suspension of disbelief was stretched pretty far too. I found it hard to believe any post-apocalyptic politican or military commander worth his or her salt would let billions of dollars sit unused just to respect a dead man's wishes (for those reading this comment, the dead man's will said his fortune would go to the person who found the Easter egg).

I also had a problem with the resolution of the story's conflict, considering how it was a really long shot. Much time was spent scratching my head in the fridge...

But I just let Rule Of X carry me through, and I enjoyed it. I do, however, agree with almost all of your points.
comment #23825 Mr.Movie 13th Apr 14
I love dystopias, and I gotta say this is pretty much YA dystopia territory. Not on par with the real nitty gritty dystopias but still alright.

I'm glad you brought up the religious thing. I'm a Baptist Christian, and at this point in the game, I have to just do a massive eye roll when I crack open any book, because that same old "I don't believe in God/God's Not Real/Religion is Stupid" preface or disclaimer is in basically every YA or fiction book I've been reading lately. Gosh, just leave it be. I had to just Face Palm as well; everyone has got different beliefs and opinions. But you don't have to slap me over the head with it in a book about video games and virtual reality...

Anywho, since it is YA, I knew that the money issue ^ had to be overlooked a little to enjoy this. This is like a better Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

I personally love the book. I mean, I freaking love this book. But what you say is also true. My suspension of disbelief was pretty much through the roof for this one, so that's why I enjoyed it so much probably.

comment #23847 Lakija 14th Apr 14
@ Lakija I won't state my religious beliefs for obvious reasons, but the Author Tract within the first few pages was truly awful. I mean, it's okay to have a mesaage about anything you want, and there are many cases in which Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped, but the bluntness of an Author Tract on a subject like religion is something that a writer should only put in a blog or newspaper (one that actually focuses on the topic of the Author Tract, too).

There's a reason why the religions of fictional characters are often unknown. Though many characters fly in the face of religions (Harry Potter is an obvious one, and many fantasy worlds have creation stories that aren't in line with many faiths), few complain and little flame wars are started when it's an ambiguous matter, allowing people to plug in whatever they want when forming their "head canon" (which is like fanon, but on a personal level).

I've seen many themes and messages that I disagree with, and a few that are plain disgusting the way I see them, but I let it go if the work's themes fit the universe it promotes them in, or if the work was satirical or obviously made to convince people of something.

At the very least people like Robert Heinlein try to make their themes fit into the premise of their books. The merits of it are for an entirely different comment on an entirely different website, but in the book Starship Troopers, at least "militarism = good" was a fitting message, considering the story was told from the viewpoint of a patriotic soldier and was about human society struggling in a Bug War against an enemy that makes The Flood from Halo look like something Orkin (those exterminator guys) could handle.

The whole "God's not real" thing in Ready Player One was just insulting. I would have let it go if the atheism of the main character was a plot point, or if the book was clearly thematically involved with religion, but neither is the case.

Fiction is something we all should enjoy. I believe themes should either be almost universal from the view of mainstream society ("Don't steal to satisfy greed."), be subtle, or at the very least be respectful. All else failing, writers shouldn't lure people in with a premise that clearly isn't what their themes are about.

If the plot summary on the backside of a book speaks of an uber-equal society falling apart when a closeted intellectual comes out with new economic ideas, it's the reader's fault for stumbling into collectivist themes; no one should open a book about a virtual reality MMO peppered with 80s pop culture references and have their beliefs insulted within the first pages.

If a writer has something that blunt and inflammatory to get across to a large amount of people, they should get a Twitter account and let the media parade around their controversial posts.
comment #23854 Mr.Movie 15th Apr 14
@Mr.Movie: I agree with all your points. Although writers must put some of themselves in their writing, they mustn't just let their characters only be vehicles for soapboxing unless that work is about that topic, or the character also believes as deeply in it as the author does.

I read all manner of books, and if an author is pulling things from their experiences to inform the reader of something in the work's overarching themes, it works if done well. But I didn't really feel like the main character of Ready Player One cared much about it, unless you consider his worship of eighties pop culture to be religious. It was, in a borderline sort of way. :D

In your 6th paragraph, I agree wholeheartedly.

As for your 7th paragraph, that happens very frequently for me, even from authors who I share general religious beliefs with. The worse offenders are probably sci-fi writers who believe all Christians shun evolution, although the two concepts are absolutely not mutually exclusive. Their books can be particularly scathing. But I've learned to just breathe and keep it moving. I love reading too much to let that stop me. And so I was able to make it through this book and still enjoy it. :)
comment #23859 Lakija 15th Apr 14
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