Holy moley is this novel nerdy. The story is nerdy, the characters are nerdy, and the style is nerdy, and the overall experience is rife with nerdy reHoly moley is this novel nerdy. The story is nerdy, the characters are nerdy, and the style is nerdy, and the overall experience is rife with nerdy references, and even nerdy themes. Written by long-standing geek, Ernest Cline, the book is aimed at those readers with interests in technology, video-games, literature, and music, and if you’re part of the often shunned cultures whose enjoyments of these pursuits left you mocked and alone, prepare for a treat. Set in a deteriorating future, Ready Player One sees nerds inheriting the earth (more specifically a digital universe, but same principal).
We’ll start with the references; a plethora of tip-offs to books, games, bands, hardware, authors, characters, programmers, and the list goes on. It’s a fun way to hold the style together with the plotline, allowing for the certain satisfaction that comes with affirmation of knowledge. In the majority of instances, the references are an added charm, and in all cases of story significance they’re fully explained, but Cline does overdo it a tad, often overfilling pages with random, throw away citations which can upset the story’s fluidity. I can image that readers less informed on the nerd subject matter, and without an understanding for the niche fandom that goes with it, may be turned off completely not only by the references, but the novel as a whole. Really, the references aren’t the reason I enjoyed this story the way I did, by the end I was actually getting a little tired of them.
One of the great strengths is the world, which, unlike a lot of science-fiction and dystopia, reflects the future of the planet as it is today. The domination of a massive multiplayer online game, and a global community functioning in a digital construct was really interesting and realistically portrayed. Outside of the game, the world-building begins really well, with multiple story trailer-parks, but trails off as the story progresses, and focuses on the online world-building instead, which is kind of a cheat because the game doesn’t have structural limitations. It would have been interesting to see the contrast between the two a little better, but it doesn’t really diminish the sense of world, thanks mostly to the first-person perspective of the protagonist. The story suffers slightly for it though, with convenient devices appearing at just the right moment to facilitate the progression of the story.
Characterisation is brilliant for the entirety of the main cast, with some impressive and often comedic dialogue. I particularly enjoyed Aech, whose armoury of witticism does for some hilarious exchanges. They come with complexities and twists apt to their social environments (or lack thereof in this case). The lesser characters don’t get much look in; in a couple of cases there are one-time appearances, where tell instead of show is used to convey how we should feel about them. The antagonist is a faceless group, which works well in the context of the storyline, and aids with the nerdy feeling of camaraderie towards the protagonist and his associates. Despite only having a tack-on individual as a means of connection, the bad-guys are aptly aimed at the desired readership, and linked in with themes and issues we experience today.
The story is fun, easy to follow, and clever. It’s really charming to follow the protagonist on his journey to the top of the scoreboard, and it’s equally as frustrating when he fails and flounders, and when the antagonists are winning. The only big drawback to the story is the inability to follow the clues alone. It would take the nerdiest of nerds to conclude these mysteries singlehandedly. A lot of information is repeated, and some of the scenes are slow and overly drawn out, while the more tension built chapters are too quick. However, these points can be overlooked for the immersion into the online-realm, the well-constructed themes and meanings. There are slights to SOPA in here, really subtle and cunningly executed.
Overall, this novel offers something special for its intended crowd, but I warn against it if you don’t fall into that category, and you’ll know if you do. Cline really knows how to play with his subject matter in a way that keeps it entertaining, while maintaining serious meanings. Everything has an element of fun attached to it, but it’s all well written and realistic. Indulge your nerd with this one, just keep Google handy. ...more
Letters to a death-row prisoner from a young killer. Interest peeked. This book isn’t exactly what it says on the tin, but it is something you shouldLetters to a death-row prisoner from a young killer. Interest peeked. This book isn’t exactly what it says on the tin, but it is something you should experience, if only for the sheer power of the style used to convey the story. There are a few issues, but somehow the letter/diary format glues everything together well, placing the reader in the position of the sympathetic ear, mostly constructed by the protagonist’s needs and expectations. The convict, whose story is dictated only in connection with Zoe’s, adds a degree of tragedy, which in turn illuminates the hopeful elements and themes.
Pitcher tackles a lot of subject matter, from family relationships to young sexuality, in what I would deem a relatively short read. In connection to the characters, especially with regards to the protagonist’s family and their dynamic these work well. Everyone has their own problems and crosses to bare, and yet Pitcher keeps them all and check and gives each adequate time and development. However, later in the story, and in the case of many other issues and themes, there just isn’t enough allotment given to create tension. It would have been nice to see some of the elements dropped entirely to allow some of the more powerful themes better focus. For the same reason, the resolutions to a lot of the problems introduced are too quick, and poorly thought out.
Thanks again to the style, the protagonist has a great authentic voice, which dips at the beginning with slight info dumping, but quickly develops into an easy and well-written form as the story progresses. The only annoying thing are the ticks Zoe has been given. Word repetition, word repetition, word repetition for example. These unnecessary traits also add to the age confusion. The voice of the reader sounds relatively young, but judging by her mature actions she must be at least mid-teens. The contradiction between the two does get off-putting in some areas.
Zoe is surrounded by well written characters; her family, who are beautifully realistic, her friends, who are fun to read, and her love interests, who introduce the first semi-realistic love triangle I’ve ever encountered in a novel. Hazaa! These are boys who actually act and react like teenage boys; one wants a lot of the indulgence of a physical relationship but is not an all-out jerk, the other is arrogant, but sweet, and neither simply falls for, or panders to the will of the female protagonist. It isn’t a perfectly written scenario; it’s predictable and cheesy sometimes, but it still manages to be engaging and self-aware. Kudos Mrs Pitcher.
The book was marketed to be more edgy than it actually is, but there is some great tension and really engaging character dynamics. It’s worth picking up for the unique style alone. ...more
The premise seems interesting; not wholly unique, but a new trick on an old pony. There are some interesting ideas tucked away in here: Welsh kings, fThe premise seems interesting; not wholly unique, but a new trick on an old pony. There are some interesting ideas tucked away in here: Welsh kings, fortune-telling, secret societies, but it doesn’t come nearly quick enough.
Unfortunately, this falls into my abandoned books section. The reason I don’t disregard it completely is because I genuinely did think the plot was intriguing. The prologue was especially likeable. The writing style however, for me, left a lot to be desired. Stiefvater’s paragraphs are heavy and often clumsy, and she utilises the omniscient narrator as an excuse to tell rather than show; her character descriptions are infodump, and she adds lines that are made to sound profound, but are actually just distracting and often nonsense. “He’d chosen his weapon well: only the truth, untempted by kindness” for example.
The characters didn’t interest me enough within the first few chapters to keep me going, and too many of them are clustered together during their introductions. Every other chapter the p.o.v switches, without establishing a real coherent tone between them.
I recognise I’m in a very small minority, but I couldn’t push past the style. Still, I think it’s a shame. ...more