Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ready Player One

Oh geeze.  I forgot to write about reading Ready Player One

I've had Ready Player One for at least a few years on my Kindle.  Once I knew the movie was coming out, I knew I really had to get reading (because let's be honest - once I watch the movie, I probably won't care enough to go back and read the book).  I've had a few friends read it recently, and they both liked it.  So I was excited and finally got my ass in gear to read it.

Ready Player One takes place in the near future, where everyone hangs out in virtual reality (it's called the OASIS) because real life sucks.  The man who programmed and owns the OASIS, James Halliday, has passed away.  He left an Easter Egg hidden within the OASIS.  Whoever finds it will inherit his fortune and controlling shares of his company; whoever finds the Easter Egg will basically own the OASIS.

Wade Watts (aka Parzival) has devoted his life towards hunting for the Egg.  He has immersed himself in 80's trivia because that's what Halliday loved.  He's one of the few true egg hunters ("gunters") left because it's been 5 years and no one has found the first of the three keys needed to find the Egg.  But then Parzival finds the first one, which begins a race against time with a few other gunters (Aech, Parzival's best and only friend, Art3mis, a blogger who Parzival has a crush on, and Daito and Shoto, who are brothers only within the OASIS) and workers from Innovative Online Industires (IOI) who want to own the OASIS so they can monetize the crap out of it (Halliday made accounts free for everyone).  IOI is ruthless, willing to cheat and even kill people in the real world to obtain the Egg.  They ask Parzival for help, and when he refuses, they blow up his home; he happened to not be there at the time, otherwise he wouldn't have survived.  They also kill Daito in the real world, making it out to be a suicide.

Now while the clock is very literally ticking once Parzival finds the first key, Parzival doesn't exactly care either.  He finds himself spending time with Art3mis, and is suddenly a celebrity with more money than he's ever had in his life.  So he sort of stops caring about the contest in the middle of the book for a while.  And I got really, really bored when this happened.

But then Art3mis cuts off ties with him and pulls ahead on the score board.  And then IOI figures out the whereabouts of the third key and sequesters it from everyone else with an impassible dome.  So Parzival does something really stupid (that somehow works): under an alias, he gets himself brought in to IOI as an indentured servant who has to work off his debt to the company (he faked owing them money).  From there he manages to hack into their system to figure out a way to shut the dome down.  He also finds information on his friends that leads him to break out early to warn them.

It all leads to an epic showdown outside of the dome with all the gunter clans fighting the IOI as our heroes struggle to reach the final door and unlock the egg.

So yeah.  Epic in plot.  Not so great in characters.  Like I said, I got bored in the middle.  I honestly didn't really connect with Parzival.  I never really related to him (or honestly cared about him).  I found myself repeatedly wishing the story had been written from either Aech or Art3mis's perspective (especially since Art3mis actually works on solving the second gate while Parzival doesn't do anything).  Aech's perspective would've been really interesting (once you find out what his story is near the end).  But alas, we're stuck with Parzival.

I will also admit, I wasn't a huge fan of the time frame either.  Months of doing nothing were passing in the book.  I get it.  It took time for everyone to figure out the clues.  But it made it feel like Parzival really wasn't doing anything for a good chunk of time (except buying a fancy new haptic rig to access the OASIS with).

So yeah.  A couple of my friends really liked it.  But I honestly wasn't a huge fan.

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