I picked this book up after seeing it recommended in various places, and I was distinctly disappointed. It reads very much like a first novel, and in...moreI picked this book up after seeing it recommended in various places, and I was distinctly disappointed. It reads very much like a first novel, and in that way it certainly suffers from issues usually endemic to an author's first work.
The Good: Conceptually, this book is quite strong. The worldbuilding is interesting, though the OASIS comes across as much more substantial than the real world that surrounds it. This is obviously a thematic problem with the book, especially considering the novel's conclusion. Despite this, I found the OASIS to be interesting and compelling, and it advanced the idea of MMORPGs in a clever way. Likewise, the corporate aspects of the book were quite compelling, given issues of net neutrality currently bearing down on us.
The Bad: To call this novel a "novel" isn't quite accurate. Instead, it's more of a love letter to geek culture. In that way, everything technological comes across as something good, and the only indication that an immersive world like OASIS might cause problems comes from the characters' interpersonal relationships. Having said that, everything in this book is too neat. When Parzival faces a problem it miraculously resolves despite the fact that this is an extremely poor (albeit resourceful) 18 year old hero. The most glaring instance of this is when he deals with IOI headquarters. I couldn't believe that a kid who spent his days in his aunt's laundry room was capable of such nuanced as successful corporate espionage. Because of this, there's no real moment of crisis in this book where you think things could go wrong, which distances the reader from the book.
The Ugly: The writing style is elementary at best and lacks the nuance necessary to make characters stand out as more than Mary Sues/Gary Stus. The sentence structure was simplistic and often inelegant, and though I appreciated some of the camp of the narrative, the charm wore off quickly. Again, that's a "first book" issue that I think can ultimately be resolved, but writing issues didn't help Ready Player One.
Ultimately, this book had a lot of potential, but I would have liked to see better execution. (less)
So I've finished this book, and I really, really liked it in spite of myself.
For me, the first part of the book was less problematic than the second...moreSo I've finished this book, and I really, really liked it in spite of myself.
For me, the first part of the book was less problematic than the second half. I'm a huge fan of survivalist narratives, and I thought the introduction of cannibalism/the turncoat was suitably creepy and infuriating. Even the early sex scene worked okay, though I always have issues with the whole it-hurt-just-a-little-but-now-Imma-have-multiple-orgasms construction of losing one's virginity. Jackson is just as intriguing and infuriating as ever, too. I will say this absolutely: I think Cole does an excellent job writing a character who suffers from emotional ineptitude due to an abusive past. I totally believe that of Jackson, though I rarely excuse his behavior.
It's the second part of the book that falls flat. This is the second book I've read in the past few months that has some really overt Stockholm syndrome in it (the first being _The Bone Season_) which made me totally squidgy. Evie's imprisonment seemed like a deux ex machina--Death's claim that he was waiting for the right moment to kill Evie was weak at best. Rather, it seemed like Cole had a very particular princess-in-a-castle fantasy that she wanted to write, and Death's motivations were the best way to set that up. Because the entire second half of the book is Evie's imprisonment, that part of the story was less gripping than the opening sections.
I still liked this book. Everything worked together to make for a highly entertaining read, especially when I set aside some of my other feminist sensibilities. So yeah, I enjoyed this book even though, on paper, I probably shoudn't have.(less)