August 29, 2014
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Review)
Author: Ernest Cline
First published: 2011
Add it: Goodreads, Book Depository
As an avowed geek, I couldn't just go past this book, but I was not sure if I'd like it. You see, what often happens when I read about technology is that I see how implausible it is, and it spoils everything for me. The drawbacks of being a programmer. So I'm always hesitant to pick up books set in a virtual reality or having a lot of computer stuff in them. But I've decided that millions of geeks can't be wrong, and took the risk :) Needless to say, I never once regretted it!
As you have probably heard, the plot revolves around the death of the creator of OASIS - a huge immersive MMORPG which has become the only solace of the humankind after some massive ecological disasters. In his will he tells that his fortune is to be passed to whoever finds the Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in OASIS. Given that the guy is a sociopath with a fixation on the 80th, the egg hunters have to study his areas of interest (which is everything from vintage text games to movies to music) for clues.
The author is clearly an expert on the retro stuff he mentions. I can't claim to know much about the 80th, because I'm too young for that, so I probably didn't catch half of the references while reading, but Cline's descriptions of the old pop culture phenomena are really accurate. I don't doubt he has played all the mentioned games himself. The structure and the rules of OASIS are also very believable, and I couldn't find any major flaws that would make me moan "come on, nobody would program THIS!"
The main character is of course a socially weird teenager whose interests and friends are all online. Of course, he finds the first clue and of course there is a girl. Well, at least her avatar is female. And of course there are bad guys with a lot of resources who are also immensely stupid. This probably gives you a good picture of the plot and anybody can figure out how the book ends :) But don't be too rush to judge! There are some unexpected plot twists, and it's gripping and believable, and it's still a pleasure to see that gun hanging on the wall firing exactly when you expect it to.
I would have gladly given it 5 stars if not for some minor plot inconsistencies that my obsessive nature just couldn't ignore.
*SPOILER ALERT. CONTINUE READING ONLY IF YOU'VE READ THE BOOK!*
Stuff which I had problems with:
1) Nobody could find the first clue for 5 years, and their only problem was that they couldn't figure out where to start searching. And the answer is so obvious it was the only thing I guessed on my own before the "big revelation" was made. Seriously? How is it even statistically possible that several million people haven't guessed something I figured out in 2 mins without any previous knowledge?? Could it be something really difficult instead?
2) Wade is a user. OK, he may be good at fixing hardware he finds in trash. But he's NOT a programmer. It's never mentioned that he is. HOW COME he became a brilliant hacker overnight just to break into a very well protected corporate network?? It's NOT possible!!! You can play games online really well, but that doesn't make you a network security expert
3) After their failure to get info out of Wade, why did they not threaten other scoreboard leaders? They knew where they lived, right? Instead they went to Japan and messed with the guy who was on the fourth position and was not a threat. It would be much easier to track Art3mis. Only the author had to keep the main hero's crash safe...
If you have some explanation for this, please share! :)
*END OF SPOILER ALERT*
In my book:
A great book to make your geeky second (or first) nature happy! Recommended to anyone who has played a computer game at least once in his/her life :)