[Note: This is an advance review, the book comes out on 8/16/11.]
There are some books that make you think. Some books that move you. Some books that y...more[Note: This is an advance review, the book comes out on 8/16/11.]
There are some books that make you think. Some books that move you. Some books that you have to work through in order to be rewarded by the dense and powerful narrative and plot. And then, every once in awhile, you come upon a story that is just fun - where you just find yourself giggling and thinking, "That is so Cool!!" First time novelist Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One" is one of these latter. Is it deep? No. Is it extremely well-written? Not really. Will it ever be considered Great American Literature? Definitely not. However, if the right people give this a chance, it will be a cult favorite in the near future. So who are the right people? What's the target audience?
Answer the following: Are you a fan of geek culture? Are you a fan of the 80's? Are you a fan of geek culture of the 80's? Do you like video games? Sci-fi/Fantasy? Have you read any William Gibson? Would you like to experience a Second-Life type experience in a Virtual Reality context where just about every company has waived their copyright allowing the Star Wars universe to exist next to the Star Trek universe next to the Firefly universe? Do you remember Max Headroom and Misfits of Science? Did you ever see Ladyhawke, Last Starfighter and Wargames? Have you ever played Zork, Adventure, or Star Wars Arcade?
The more of these things you answer yes to, the more you will love this book. The story is that in the near future, global crises have wrecked the real world. People live in low-income trailer stacks (literally RV trailers stacked on top of one another.) As a result, many people live large parts of their life inside a virtual world. Think Second Life, but bigger. Started by one of the most successful video game companies, this world quickly became so popular it was being used as a virtual school, a playground, a place to do business, and a place where you could buy/build whatever you wanted. However, when the creator of this program dies, he leaves in his will a surprise for the users - he initiates a contest in which whoever solves it, takes over control of this world, in essence making them one of the most powerful and wealthy individuals in the world - both real and virtual. Soon everyone is combing through everything known about the creator to find clues on how to begin the hunt. Clans are formed, individuals are searching, and then there's IOI - an evil-corporation who wants to win so they can monetize this virtual world and force users to pay an access fee. After years of not finding even the first part of the puzzle, the books main character, Parzival, stumbles upon it. Even better since he is poor and cannot afford to teleport to other virtual planets, he finds it is on the same planet he is. And so the race begins.
Since the creator of the virtual world was a child of the 70's and 80's, everyone who is in the hunt has studied the geek culture of this period thoroughly. As a result, much of the virtual world is based on this culture. So you have high-tech worlds, fantasy worlds where magic works, PVP planets and non-PVP planets. Some are modeled after worlds in movies, some are modeled after the neighborhoods people remember from childhood. But throughout the entire book, there are nods to geek culture. Want an X-Wing, fly an X-Wing. Want a +1 Broadsword, you only need to find one. Want to attend a party with a zero-grav dance floor? No problem, if it can be programmed you can do it.
I couldn't stop reading this. It's just pure fun and Cline really nails it. You can tell how much he loves our geek culture. I only worry that he can never pull off another novel this original. In any case - check this out if you are into any of the things I mentioned above. You will not be sorry, and we want to make sure this book gets all the attention it so rightly deserves. (less)
Meh. That's about as complimentary as I can be. Like it more than I hated the first half of "Catching Fire", not as much as I liked the second half of...moreMeh. That's about as complimentary as I can be. Like it more than I hated the first half of "Catching Fire", not as much as I liked the second half of that book. My biggest problem with the whole series is just how often the narrator repeats herself. Whether this is a function of being a YA book and the author assuming a lower level of sophistication in her readers, or just poor writing, I just felt myself getting frustrated throughout. I know, I know ... you're feeling used. I know, I know ... war sucks. I know, I know ... Peeta is an ideal boy. I know, I know ... you're confused how you feel. It just felt that the author refused to show us anything having to do with motivations, feelings, mental state, without saying it out loud and over and over again. Just not my cup of tea. Entertaining enough that I read all three books, but I'm real hesitant to recommend it to others. I feel like it could've been tightened up and told in one book, but then again, trilogies make money. Stand alone novels don't.(less)
Wow, I'm torn on how to rate this book. I don't think I've ever read a book that I hated so much for the 1st half, and then really loved the 2nd half...moreWow, I'm torn on how to rate this book. I don't think I've ever read a book that I hated so much for the 1st half, and then really loved the 2nd half as much. I mean, I was within 10-15 pages of just giving up on this thing. There is so much to hate here but somehow the 2nd half turned it around for me. I read the 2nd half in 2 nights after it took me weeks to get through the 1st half. (I know I'm not giving details here and its because I really don't want to dwell on the negatives for fear it remind me how bad the 1st half was and detract from my enjoyment of the rest of the book).
I find Collins to be a terrible writer, but the plot of the 2nd half kept me in it. It's odd, like I said, I'm torn by this book, but I still think I was entertained enough by the 2nd half of the book that I would recommend it to others. It was also good enough to get me reading Mockingjay. God, I hope that one moves along better than the 1st half of this one. (less)
First read when it was first published in US a few years back. With all the talk about Hunger Games, figured I would reread before trying out Hunger G...moreFirst read when it was first published in US a few years back. With all the talk about Hunger Games, figured I would reread before trying out Hunger Games. After first 50 pages or so, I remember why I love it. (less)