Issues I Had With “Ready Player One”

Another brief entry tonight as time management continues to fail me.

Thanks to the mystical power of audio books and a longish commute, I’ve been getting through a lot of books lately. And, since audio books cost money, I’ve been listening to a lot of them repeatedly. Among them is  a book known as Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It is a fairly interesting story about a near future world where a major MMO (the Oasis) has supplanted the internet and, thanks to a contest by the creator with a several hundred billion dollar prize, has some folks looking for the hidden easter egg that will get them the reward. And people who are willing to kill other people to stop them.

And 80’s references.

Lots and lots of 80’s references.

While I did find the book fairly enjoyable and would recommend it to “nerds” in general (it is a book for nerds), I did have a lot of problems with it. For expedience, and because I can, I now present a number of them in bullet point form. Don’t take any of this the wrong way. It is a fun read! It just has a lot of little annoyances that have added up after listening to it four or five times.

And as a heads up. There may be SPOILERS AHEAD. Going to try and not give too much away, but some stuff is bound to slip since I’m tired.

-Wasted words. My girlfriend and I joked a lot about this being a NaNoWriMo novel because it feels like there are a lot of segments in it that are unnecessarily padded with extra words. It isn’t major, but it does get tiresome to hear “sci-fi/fantansy books, movies, music, comic books, magazines and classic video games” over and over and over.

-References. Okay. I get it. This is a nerd book. It is written for nerds and people who loved 80’s pop-culture. But I swear, it feels like this book can’t go a page without SOME sort of reference to something from the 1980’s.

-Setting doesn’t contribute anything. Okay. It really sounds cool to have it be in a quasi-post-apocalyptic setting (the world is in the middle of a collapse of civilization due to the energy crisis) but you never get a feel for that. I never really felt the world was on the brink of collapse when we had scenes in the real world. He alludes to things (like rolling blackouts) but they never affect the characters at all. The real world setting could, honestly, be exchanged for pretty much anything since all the issues he brings up are conveniently averted or never come to be an issue.

-Exposition. There is a lot of it. A lot of it explaining the tech or elements of the OASIS. It can get really dry.

-The OASIS, as a game, isn’t really realized. Despite the majority of the book taking place in side an MMO, we don’t actually learn that much about the game. Yes, he exposits quite a bit about it, but nothing is really ever said about how you play the game or how it really works. And I feel that is something of a letdown. It really isn’t a game so much as mish-mash sci-fi/fantasy setting. Hell, winning the contest doesn’t actually require you to be any good at the OASIS! It requires you be good at classic games and movie references! I mean, silly as it is, I would like things that center around new games to actually use the “game” and not just have it be a convenient way to squeeze in a setting.

-The villains. Evil corporation, yawn, etc. There was honestly a fair amount of room for making these guys a little less GENERIC EVIL. While the idea of the corp being evil, it would have been nice to actually have a few of the “faceless drones” that worked with them actually interact and display personality. Give the heroes some qualms when they learn that the people working for the corp or doing it because they need to make a living and survive! Just because their corporation treats them like faceless minions doesn’t mean they actually are!

-Teamwork. The pure obstinate stupidity required by the main cast to not team-up annoys me. That is all.

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