Feb 26, 2014

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

 



Summary:
Intended Age-Group: 16+
Issues of Violence: gunfire, explosions, murder, 
Intimacy Level: minor kisses
Language: bulls**t, b**ch, h*ll, F-word, a**, sh*t, d*mn, f*g, bas***d,
Other: Mention and use of brothels and online brothels. Deaths from robbing a store and overdosing on drugs. Mention and encouragement of masturbation. Sexual insults. Flipping off. Crude humor. Mention of rape. Lots of drug comments.
Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Completely gripping and original.


Book blurb:
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Initial Reaction: *****
Slow start. The first chapter was interesting, but chapters 2-6 were basically a long history book on things I didn't really care to know the history on. This included a long dialogue on how we destroyed the world with global warming and a giant message of how the real world is awful and all the happiness was either made up or destroyed, so it's better to escape into a virtual game world where nothing you do matters.

Characters: *****
I didn't like the main character, Wade, at first. His "reason to get up in the morning" was the pursuit of money through the Oasis and that was distasteful to me. He also didn't seem to care about family one iota even when he puts them in danger. Art3mis, however, brought me hope -- that someone can desire goodness in wealth. I admired her for this and appreciated her humor.

After my initial dislike of Wade, he started to change. Slowly. And the change felt natural, relatable, and admirable. He started caring for more than money, for people other than himself, and for the well-being of those involved in the Oasis. Sure, he was a bit angsty, but who wouldn't be when the entire world is watching you and trying to kill you and trying to bribe you and you have to figure out the hardest clues in the universe that lead to the biggest prize in the universe before everyone else in existence.

The side characters were all well developed and likable (or hate-able when it was the bad guy.) They brought just enough support to keep the story moving (although the love interest got a little annoying for me, but I'm not a huge fan of romance at any level.)

Plot:  *****
This book was fantastically written from chapter 7 on. If you grew up in the 80s (which I did not) then you'll find a lot of nostalgic memorabilia. For everyone else...you'll probably hit large sections of boring game/movie/music references. I'm also not a gamer so a lot of that went right over my head. Still, the author did a very good job pulling me into a completely foreign world.

The idea of building an enormous virtual world in which the closest thing to real life can exist left me fascinated. Mostly, because I think it could actually be plausible. That doesn't mean I think that's what will happen to our culture. I just think that it could happen under certain circumstances.

The main driving plot of this book was searching for Halliday's prize. It was thrilling working out the riddles with Wade (though I never solved any of them before he did.) And the adventures he underwent under the scrutiny of the universe made me cheer loud and long. The climax of the book was amazing and left my jaw on the floor for a long time. Just thinking about it makes me want to re-read the book.

As a side note. My entire reading group and I all finished this book in about two days. I can't remember the last time a book kept me up until 2 in the morning. I love that feeling.

Spiritual focus:  *****
None. In fact, belief in God is looked down upon. In one of the many sections of long narrative explaining history and life, the main character expresses his belief in evolution and makes fun of God. He delivers God as a fairytale, made up just like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Dislikes:
Oh my stars, the language. Now, I know I've been raised in little Christian bubbles here and there, but I consider myself at a pretty good medium between the bubble and the world. I can handle swearing. But there is a lot in this book. Too much for me to ever recommend it to a fellow believer with a clear conscience.

Not just that, but there is a lot of crude humor, drug mention, sexual insults, etc. The main character indulges in virtual brothels (I'm not even sure how that would work) and encourages masturbation. In fact, the book delivers a little belief system (under the guise of an old journal) on how important masturbation is as a bodily function.

I do not hold these beliefs. They disturbed and saddened me.  

Overall Recommendation:
I'm in a quandry because, without the disagreeable content and infodumps, I found the book incredible. I give it three and a half stars which, according to my rating system, means I liked it, but there is disagreeable content that hinders my recommendation.








Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.




 

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