A review of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ready Player One is the best piece of fiction since the Bible.
Now I have your attention; it’s probably not, but it is one of the best YA fiction novels I’ve read since Ender’s Game (which was good enough to break free of that pesky label and is now quite rightfully considered a cult classic). Cline’s first novel won the Prometheus Best Novel Award 2012, and Warner has the movie rights. Not a bad start…

Though the prose may have a “light reading” edge to it and is definitely geared to a geek-friendly readership, it remains a riveting dystopian novel with fun, likeable characters and impeccable pacing. The real power of this book is that Cline works with tropes, symbols and icons that define “Generation Y” culture, crafting an entire virtual world made up of gaming, pop culture and TV trivia; what’s more, he does it Like A Boss. The “Matrix” in this story (the fully-immersive MMORPG that the Internet has become) feels like Wonka’s chocolate factory had it been imagined by Dan Simmons. It’s Tron on steroids – the original, not the Disney abomination.

On the surface it’s just a good YA story with bad guys, a warm-hearted protagonist and some feel-good morals thrown in; the clever framework of a real-life Game (flashback to Michael Douglas…) means you keep your eye on the prize. But if you have a palate for the culture of gaming, geekdom, cartoons and low-brow television, then this surface gives way to a depth of detail and “No-waaay” moments where you want to call up your schoolmates from years gone by to say “Dude: I’m on a full-size planet made of videogame arcades.” Cline has put his childhood daydreams on paper. WoW-style battles, Star Wars dogfights and old-school RPG puzzle action… It’s just fun, plain and simple. The kicker is that with the embedded world it felt, somehow, believable. I was a more than a little sadface when I flipped to the last page, and that says a lot.

Epic Win, Mr Cline.

View all my reviews

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