Thursday, January 04, 2018

Book Report: "Ready Player One"

Cline came up with an excellent premise and twist-filled story but spoiled it with some fundamental misunderstandings of the decade he presents himself as an expert on, and muffs a couple opportunities to lift his story to the next level. "Hunger Games" meets "Battle Royale" by way of "The Da Vinci Code" in the cyberpunk thriller, which plays out with the progressional path of a "Second Life"-style video game.

Here are my gripes:

-Nintendo and Sega play no part in the virtual world. If Cline wanted to avoid the two gaming giants of the decade, he could have written them off as withholding content from the Oasis due to licensing issues. Instead, he pretends as thought they didn't exist.

-The Oasis is too much like reality. With no fast travel and severe physical limitations that replicate real-life physics, it's not reasonable to imagine that the Oasis would become an all-encompassing virtual destination. This virtual life sucks almost as much as real life, bringing to mind the episode of "The Office" in which Dwight gets hooked on a game that makes him even more of a bored loser than he is in real life.

-Near the end, when a benevolent mystery character pops up to serve as a helpful security guard and travel agent for the heroes, Cline misses the chance to refashion that character as the true, behind-the-scenes adversary. The endgame as it stands is a perfunctory, tensionless slog but could have been a game-changing cataclysm.

Here's hoping Steven Spielberg manages to smooth out the rough edges and fulfill the squandered potential.

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