Clementine's Reviews > Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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it was ok
bookshelves: 2018

I will note that I am neither a gamer nor particularly into nerd culture. This undoubtedly influences my opinion on this book.

You know those people who use their extensive knowledge of pop culture as a substitute for a real personality? This is the literary equivalent of that. I'm not against a book whose primary function is spectacle over substance; sometimes you just want to be dazzled as a reader. It's like the cinema of attractions in book form. That's cool. It's just that this wasn't a spectacle that I particularly enjoyed.

First of all, the writing was clunky. Again, this book clearly isn't here to be a marvel of technical ability; the point isn't to immerse readers in beautiful prose but to entertain with a fast-paced story. But I want to be clear that the writing is far from spectacular. The dialogue was often stilted. The use of phrases like "L33t Hax0rz Warezhaus" was beyond cringey - that reads as dated in 2018; there's no way l33t sp34k will survive to 2045. I also got the idea that the author thought his readers were quite slow - surely nobody needs to be told that the abbreviation IOI is pronounced "eye-oh-eye". Sure, explanations of the more esoteric aspects of gaming culture are welcome - but I know how to read, you know? I'm an adult human. I can pronounce the letters of the alphabet.

But lack of incredible writing chops does not necessarily deter me from enjoying a book. A formulaic, predictable plot does, though. Watery social commentary that any half-sentient sixteen-year-old could come up with does. A novel that is packed full of pop culture references but completely lacking in any indication that the author has heard of a single woman in his life does. For the majority of the novel ((view spoiler)), there is a singular female character who is not functionally differentiated from the male characters at all except for through some primitive stabs at feminist consciousness when she admits that she isn't taken seriously as a woman. (Oh really? Female gamers aren't taken seriously? That's some classified information!) Art3mis is afforded the wonderful plot of "Is she hot in real life and will she sleep with our protagonist?" She's a blatant male fantasy: chock full of all the requisite masculine nerd culture references but a curvy, pretty woman instead of a basement-dwelling man. Wonderful! Emailing Art3mis to warn of imminent danger, Wade charmingly adds "PS - I think you look even more beautiful in real life," because every intelligent, accomplished woman wants unsolicited, condescending affirmations about her appearance when she's being hunted down by an evil corporation.

(view spoiler)

Ready Player One depicts a bleak future, but it doesn't draw any attention to one of its most disturbing elements: the lack of female influence on the cultural, social, and political landscape. This book is a celebration of a male-dominated nerd canon disguised as an adventure novel slash social critique. If you're into the male-dominated nerd canon, you might enjoy its spectacle. Clearly, I did not.
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Reading Progress

May 18, 2018 – Started Reading
May 18, 2018 – Shelved
May 18, 2018 –
May 19, 2018 –
27.0% "Interesting concept but based on the author’s extensive pop culture references you’d think he’d never heard of a single woman in his life."
May 20, 2018 –
May 21, 2018 –
May 22, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018
May 22, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Meggan (new)

Meggan I cannot even bring myself to CONSIDER reading this book, so thank you for taking one for the team so I could read this review instead. 👍🏼

Clementine You're welcome! A lot of the one and two star reviews on here are actually super entertaining. Better than the book for sure.

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