I have slain the beast that was Ready Player One... I remain perturbed. I cannot for the life of me see why otherwise discerning friends and writers a...moreI have slain the beast that was Ready Player One... I remain perturbed. I cannot for the life of me see why otherwise discerning friends and writers admire this book SO much.
The writing is flat and lifeless, the story is simplistic, and at every obstacle, having never mentioned it before, he knows the solution because like Monty Python and the Holy Grail he just happens to have watched it 157 times in the last five years. That's 10 full days without sleep to fit it in. Sure that's doable but when you consider in those 5 years he's played and mastered every computer game known to man, watched every tv show - not just the ones you expect, like Family Ties, which is another 3 days with no sleep just to watch through every episode once - but every obscure show, Japanese variant etc... WHILST hanging out like a normal teen... The only thing this book has going for it is a neat sellable concept - rich guy like Steve Jobs builds an immense VR world that he fills with every pop culture reference imaginable (in no actual detail, just a name check most of the time) and makes an Easter Egg hunt for people to inherit his wealth when he dies. Computer games work to a structure where you complete x to access y, you gain item a to fulfill quest b... in Ready Player One Cline resorts to a Blue Peter style of writing where he escapes the one possibly gripping part of the book with an 'Here's one I prepared earlier' escape... and he uses this gimmick a dozen times through the book. Oh look an obstacle! Don't worry, I have solved this three days ago but not told you how, all I need to do now is put on my trusty jet boots or use my guitar pick or or or... it's fine that he inserts a quest just to defeat Mechagodzilla 150 pages later, because that's how computer games work - it's fine that he earns power-ups and extra lives because that's how computer games work... what isn't fine is all the cheating and crap like six months before the book started I just happened to buy the back door codes I didn't know I would need...
The thing is for a certain age group there's a natural appeal to see Tomb of Horrors and Temples of Syrinx and stuff we loved growing up. It's a little slice of nostalgia so WE bring something to the book. The thing is you'd expect Cline to have a genuine love for the time (he may have, it's possible but impossible to tell through his book because there's no genuine affection of any of the things he's writing about). So for instance I read on wondering 'what'll he name check next?' and thinking how can he miss out Battle of the Planets, or how can he not include Atic Attack or Jet Set Willy but will reference a TRS80 game that no one has heard of (being American I forgive missing out the seminal parts of 80s youth culture in the UK it wasn't as global as it is now) so you start looking at his personal choices... but that's only a surface level reading. You also wonder if he's actually going to get serious in terms of the implications of VR but he barely scratches the surface of the demise of the real world around it... or power and the abuses of it and the way corporate greed is worse in many ways than oppressive regimes - there's some serious stuff in here he just skims over. His aunt is killed along with the only good woman he's ever known - and it's dismissed in a single line... until 200 pages later it becomes his motivation to go on a suicide fight vs Mechagodzilla... now, sure it could be his driving force - but he's absolutely point blank ignored it up until this point... so it just becomes another handy 'oh yeah and because of this I did that'(less)
I've been with Reacher from Book One. He came with me on my honeymoon and has been hanging around ever since. There's no doubting he's an immensely po...moreI've been with Reacher from Book One. He came with me on my honeymoon and has been hanging around ever since. There's no doubting he's an immensely popular character and Child's one of the best thriller writers out there at the moment. But something's changing with these books, and I'm not sure if it is me or them... but for instance as a Spurs fan when I see agents Dawson and Bale (Michael Dawson plays central defence and Gareth Bale plays left wing) it raises an eyebrow, chuck in an Agent Trapattoni (who currently manages the Ireland team) and the eyes kinda roll. One by themselves is fine, but three inside a couple of pages? I guess Fox Soccer was on when he was writing this bit.
Of course that's not a reason to down rank a book - we all draw our names from somewhere when we are writing. No the thing that has changed is the scope of the stories. They've become much tighter and smaller while pretending to be larger. 61 Hours, Worth Dying For, The Affair and A Wanted Man basically take place within a few days of each other. That's fine but it also means its drawing out the melodrama of him travelling across the country to Virginia to meet the voice of the woman who basically kept him going during 61 Hours, so for us it's a long stretch of real-time covered in our own lives. It's tricky to keep us caring if it's dragged out for too long. It also means that the usual feel of Reacher coming into to town, having the gorgeous young-to-middle-aged female fall for him as changed as it's 3 novels with him realistically interested in the voice. Personally I like the slight change in dynamic, and we're seeing Reacher as a more fallible character these days - but it's not the Reacher who started out on this long walk.
An enjoyable read but nothing special. Personally I miss the first 3-4 books in the series where I think Child knocked it out of the park again and again. (less)
Read this one over christmas having devoured the previous novels in the series, and it's simultaneously my favourite and least favourite of the bunch...moreRead this one over christmas having devoured the previous novels in the series, and it's simultaneously my favourite and least favourite of the bunch - Sean made a seriously brave decision with one of the character arcs in this one, but for me, the way it was handled actually detracted from the strength of the character (desperately avoiding spoilers here) because it stole their personal victory in a stupid amount of random... but for that, five star all the way... because of that I came inches from throwing my kindle across the room, and you just can't do that with expensive gadgetry these days... (less)
Brilliant sardonic wit, a more complex storyline and a genuine feeling that Cole wasn't going to squeak out of this one alive. Classic Elvis... the Ki...moreBrilliant sardonic wit, a more complex storyline and a genuine feeling that Cole wasn't going to squeak out of this one alive. Classic Elvis... the King ain't Dead.(less)
Possibly my favourite of the Cole novels. But I admit I was deep in the throes of my Elvis Cole addiction at this point and probably shouldn't be trus...morePossibly my favourite of the Cole novels. But I admit I was deep in the throes of my Elvis Cole addiction at this point and probably shouldn't be trusted... I was dreaming I was Elvis it was that bad... good... good damnit! (less)
And so begins my love affair with Robert Crais - 9 of the Elvis Cole novels back to back. I'm loving the 'better, simpler time' feel of these pre-inte...moreAnd so begins my love affair with Robert Crais - 9 of the Elvis Cole novels back to back. I'm loving the 'better, simpler time' feel of these pre-internet, pre-mobile phone, thrillers that involve pay phones, skip traces and nary a computer in sight. Huzzah! Oh, and it helps that Crais has a rare wit and wonderful sense of comic timing.(less)
I really want to love this book, I do. It should be something made for me, but I'm struggling. Hoffman is keeping me at arms length and I'm not gettin...moreI really want to love this book, I do. It should be something made for me, but I'm struggling. Hoffman is keeping me at arms length and I'm not getting to truly engage with Cale, so I fear this one is destined for the Did Not Finish pile, which is probably really harsh on it but with 500 titles waiting on the kindle to sink into, them's the breaks. (less)