Ready Player One is a fine little story about young man in a virtual world trying to win a contest and trying to keep from getting killed, in the game...moreReady Player One is a fine little story about young man in a virtual world trying to win a contest and trying to keep from getting killed, in the game and in the real world (which is strangely distant) in this book. From that description, it probably doesn't seem like much more than a novelized version of Tron, but the book is really much more exciting and interesting than I am making it out to be.
Ernest Cline does a good job drawing the universe and various "worlds" in the OASIS, where a contest/war is being waged for an item left by the creator of the OASIS. The player who finds it will become heir to all this amped up Steve Jobs/Bill Gates/guy who created Nintendo has left, which in this book means pretty much the whole world, or what is left of it worth having. It
I'm told a movie of this book is in the works, and I'm sure, in the right hands, it could be a fine film. But I have some reservations. First, the author/narrator's obsession with the 1980s is, in a word, baffling. The story presents this decade as a golden age of all things artistic, when it was only a golden age for video games. References to terrible television shows and mostly (thank you, Rush) bad music, made me groan throughout the reading. Second, the out and out worship of James Halliday, creator of the OASIS, is disturbing. The protagonist (a teenager named Wade Watts) not only loves what the genius made and achieved, but even applauds his anti-social, psychologically destructive behavior. Had there been some sort of revelation that Halliday had realized that he was out of touch with his humanity, I might have been okay, but -- spoiler alert -- Halliday's approach to life is mirrored in the disciples who stumble only into their own human connections.
These objections are more about my personal preferences than the quality of the book. Ready Player One does suffer, just a little bit, with some of the stilted prose one finds in some first novels. And it reads, in some ways, like a formula road trip/buddy movie/coming of age story. But once the tale gets going, it really is an adventure. Wade Watts' quest is one that demands not only his considerable skill in gaming, but also requires him to learn about himself and how much growing up he has to do. He falls in love, of course, and has to figure out how his feelings connect to his goals. The obstacles Cline puts his character through (aforementioned 80s references aside) are clever and fun to read about. Of course, I was rooting for the hero, but I enjoyed watching as he worked to overcome his problems, not just by shooting bad guys, but by using his head. The part of the novel where Wade goes undercover was particularly engaging.
Chances are most readers will get more out the book than I did. Perhaps my disappointment is that novel could have been more than it is. Nonetheless, there is a lot of fun to be had in reading Ready Player One.(less)
One might think, a few pages into Mr. Ferguson's novel, that the author is trying to piss off as many people as possible. I know I took a little offen...moreOne might think, a few pages into Mr. Ferguson's novel, that the author is trying to piss off as many people as possible. I know I took a little offense at some of the jabs, not so much at organized religion (which has, by and large, earned the disdain), but at the pictures of Christ and St. Francis and other religious figures.
I also have trouble with any stories where there are no characters with redeeming qualities. And one almost has that in Between The Bridge And The River. Almost every main character in this rollicking novel is about as contemptible as can be drawn.
On the other hand, these characters redeem themselves for me as a reader because they are interesting. They are not caricatures of bad people, but very human beings who have taken paths of what they would never call unrighteousness. Because we see their falls (or rises, if you prefer) from the beginning and from their perspective, they are much more compelling. If you read this novel and think any character is evil, then you cannot help but connect that evil to what we have come to accept.
Sure the book is philosophical, but that may only be my take on it. This is a very funny book, though not in the way viewers of Craig Ferguson's late night show have come to expect. Highly entertaining, sharply written, and thought provoking. What more could you ask for?(less)
This is one of the strangest books I have ever read. While it is surreal in tone and baffling in terms of plot, it is also frighteningly realistic. Th...moreThis is one of the strangest books I have ever read. While it is surreal in tone and baffling in terms of plot, it is also frighteningly realistic. The mundane is scary. The unclear power over life is scary. Joseph K.'s alienation is not quite as scary as his attempts to connect to the outside world.
The Trial is a very bleak, but necessary story.(less)
This is my first graphic novel. I start with this because if you are reading my review, you best know that I am not familiar with the conventions of t...moreThis is my first graphic novel. I start with this because if you are reading my review, you best know that I am not familiar with the conventions of the genre. I doubt I need to know much to know I liked reading V for Vendetta.
The story is bleak, even for my tastes, and parts are a bit confusing (particularly in Book 2). However, these are not so much flaws for me, but mysteries to resolve as a reader. The main story, about an escapee's vengeance on those who harmed him(?) and the reign of chaos and anarchy against a totalitarian government, is hard to put down. And even if new questions arise out of the resolution, I found the whole experience of reading to be quite thrilling.
I would like to give this collection a higher rating. Pieces like "A Hunger Artist," "In the Penal Colony," and the title story are absolutely brillia...moreI would like to give this collection a higher rating. Pieces like "A Hunger Artist," "In the Penal Colony," and the title story are absolutely brilliant and rich in themes. I also liked "The Stoker," though I am not sure why. But some of the other stories were incomprehensible to me. I must admit, however, that I read most of this book at night, often when I was very tired.
The Introduction was rather useful. The translator's Afterword was not.
I believe the material is, as a whole, worth reading, but I wonder about some of the tales, which Kafka himself seemed to think were "unfinished."(less)