I decided to read Insignia after I ran across its sequel on the HarperTeen site, then realized my library had the first installment. My initial expectI decided to read Insignia after I ran across its sequel on the HarperTeen site, then realized my library had the first installment. My initial expectations were low, especially when I realized the MC was a 14-year-old, as I haven't had a lot of luck with young-YA books in the last few years. I'm not going to say Insignia is a great work of literature, but it's entertaining, funny, and plays on two of my favorite themes: evil corporations taking over the world and life after your brain is augmented/replaced by an ultracomputer. While there are echoes of Ender's Game and even original Star Trek episodes (does anyone else remember "A Taste of Armageddon", in which Kirk & Co. encounter the society embroiled in a simulated "war" that nonetheless kills people by requiring them to report to suicide booths within 24 hours of being "killed"?), the plot is interesting and fast-moving and the characters were clearly drawn by someone who knows this age group well.
Now, there are times when you really have to will yourself into keeping that disbelief suspended. For example, the military and a bunch of (evil) corporate suits give a bunch of 14-year-olds super-abilities and tens of millions of dollars' worth of wetware, without much in the way of limitations or safeguards. Okay, everyone over the age of 16: does that sound like a good idea to you? I mean, at the age of 14, I was a certified Good Girl who got straight A's without trying and never broke the rules, and even knowing all that, I wouldn't trust the 14YO version of myself with that kind of power. However, if you don't expect too much in the way of realism, is a quick read with an engaging plot and a sizable vein of humor. ...more
**spoiler alert** One more warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
You have to be kidding me. Aliens are making and controlling the androids??? And they're doin**spoiler alert** One more warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
You have to be kidding me. Aliens are making and controlling the androids??? And they're doing it to control those in power, like the president? This is the big shocking reveal at the end of the story, setting up the inevitable and oh-so-suspenseful YA second installment cliffhanger? ALIENS??? Come on, Robison Wells! That idea was worn out in 1955. Today it's just pathetic.
Full review to come when my disgust has cooled into contemptuous amusement. ...more
After some internal debate, I'm giving Ready Player One three stars as a compromise. The book's overall plot and ideas were in four-star territory forAfter some internal debate, I'm giving Ready Player One three stars as a compromise. The book's overall plot and ideas were in four-star territory for me, but the writing was clumsy and unpolished enough that I often felt as though I were reading the first draft of a self-published novel.
The story itself is entertaining enough - the death of a billionaire who was basically a combination of Bill Gates and Howard Hughes sets off an enormous contest in which gamers of all stripes compete to win the billionaire's fortune and control of the corporation that owns and operates the world-dominating OASIS system. They have to use their knowledge of the billionaire, who was apparently obsessed with music, television, movies, and gaming from the late 1970's through the mid-1990's, to decipher his clues and complete the trials he set for each level. I genuinely enjoyed many of the details about the world Cline created. The ad-hoc transformation of trailer parks into violence-ridden "stacks" where poor Americans live 15 to a double-wide was extremely disturbing, while the description of mega-corporation IOI as an entity with its own police force and the power to force those who fall behind on their bills into a lifetime of involuntary indentured servitude was believable enough to make me shudder.
However, it appears Cline either never heard the dictum "show, don't tell" or was too lazy to care about it. His protagonist, Wade Watts, spends much of the book telling us virtually EVERYTHING. And the sheer amount of infodumping, particularly in the first half of the book, is unbelievable and really takes away from the story.
Cline definitely had the seeds of a great book in Ready Player One, but all too frequently lapsed into lazy storytelling. For his next book, I hope he finds an editor who can help him work through his weaknesses. ...more