Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: Ready Player One

After having a number of friends recommend Ready Player One,  I bought the Kindle version and read it on my iPad & iPhone.

Through the first half of the book, I came *very* close to putting it down, and was ready to dismiss it as the worst book I'd read in several years. I persevered only because so many had recommended it, and the book did improve and redeem itself *somewhat* in the second half.

The basic premise of the story could be described as "a mix of Cory Doctorow's For The Win with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which Charlie is replaced by Richard Garriot". The story is set in a future in which the bulk of civilization spends its time immersed in the ultimate virtual world. The simulation's creator leaves his entire fortune to the gamer who can decipher the ultimate easter egg. Doing so pits nerdy gamers against evil corporations, in a race through countless 1980's entertainment based puzzles.

On the down side, the writing is at best cliche and predictable. At worst, it's like something a high school student would write. Excessive hyperbolic use of adverbs, shallow and predictable characters, and loose plot points abound. Painful to read, but again, the author gets a handle on it in the back half of the book. Also, the 1980's pop culture references are far too frequent and wedged in every corner of the story in ham-handed fashion. Worst of all, as a science fiction piece it is unimaginitive, and most of what's envisioned here is retread from Snowcrash or other classics. Futurists beware.

The latter half of the book improves a great deal, and the final race to the prize actually gets it to page-turner status.

I don't recommend it as strongly as I'd recommend Snow Crash, Halting State, or For the Win. Go pick those up if you haven't read them. They're a far better use of your time, IMHO.

Ready Player One

No comments: