Unlike most others, I read Ernest Cline’s Armada before reading Ready Player One. The 2011 novel Ready Player One is one of the most popular sci-fi novels of the last decade or more. Armada… isn’t. Now, I liked Armada, though I knew it was considered a disappointment to many fans of Ready Player One. They’re two very similar books and I like them both. But yes, Ready Player One is the superior book in almost every way.
Ready Player One is a cyberpunk sci-fi epic full of 80s nostalgia and geek culture madness. The OASIS is a virtual reality game universe that everyone’s logged into. The game’s founder has left a scavenger hunt to his gamers, with a prize of billions of dollars to the one who reaches the end. Thing is, it’s been years and nobody’s ever gotten close to solving the hunt’s first clue. Then, when most have lost interest in the scavenger hunt but the most diehard enthusiasts, young gamer Wade Watts figures out the first clue. And so begins a mad dash to the finish line — it’s a race that seems fun at first, but turns deadly before long, with the entire future of the OASIS riding on the outcome.
It’s a pretty cool concept, but the thing that makes Ready Player One go is the pop culture stuff that invades the story. Think of it like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but with iconic sci-fi and videogame characters/places/weapons/etc. instead of cartoons. It’s wish-fulfillment fantasy for geeks and those raised on 80s pop culture – it’s all so cool that it left me wishing that the OASIS was real, because damn it’d be fun.
One of the things that got me to finally explore the worlds of Ernest Cline was that Steven Spielberg has decided to direct an adaptation of Ready Player One. I can’t wait to see how that turns out. The book can be great fun but we’re only left to imagine some of the iconic creations from our favorite films doing battle with each other. To see it all on the big screen? It could be the coolest, geekiest thing ever – I’m talking Avengers assemble cool. I do expect that some rights issues will prevent the film from using every mentioned creation from the book, but I’m still very excited to see how it all comes together. And plus, I mean, it’s Spielberg. The man helped shape the 80s. I can’t wait to see this movie.
Back to the book!
Cline and his characters are experts on the 80s but sometimes I just didn’t need to know everything he put into the book. But most of the time Ready Player One can be a total blast. The storyteller is passionate about his subject, and that matters. I may not always share Cline’s passions but I recognize them and so even the drawn-out sections of the book have a certain appeal to them.
It’s a fun, lively book and one I’m glad I made time for. There’s really no other book quite like it… except maybe Armada, I guess. Hmm. Okay, let me rephrase: there’s no author quite like Ernest Cline. Yes, that sounds about right. His books may not be for everyone; in fact, some readers might be completely lost in Cline’s world of geekdom and pop culture. I’m part of the target audience, I guess, and I liked what Cline did with both this and Armada. They’re entertaining, geeky books written by a geek with other geeks in mind. And that’s cool.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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