When you take 1980's Saturday morning cartoons roll them up into an old Atari game caked in a digital playground like the Matrix you get this fun arcade thrill ride. Some reviewers criticize that the book does way too much name dropping of nostalgic games and personas rather than make deep meaningful inroads into the discourse of sci-fi but let's state the facts, books (like video games) are designed to transform us to a different time and place and to entertain us with the art of possibilities. This book delivers with a ultrasonic boom.
The storyline is set in a time period where the economy and progress has only occurred in a digital frontier (the OASIS) and its maker (James Halliday) has just died leaving his vast fortune to those who can complete a quest within the OASIS first. Halliday,modeled the quest around the culture of his childhood- the late 70's and 80's pop culture period.
The lead characters are stereotypical in many regards but as the plot unfolds the deeper levels of each character are revealed.Critically one could say that they are much like the arcade games of the 80's, two dimensional, but as the complexity of the tale builds, I found an added dimension that contains a satisfying commentary on honor, identity and the ethics in making change occur.
Wheaton's narration is spot on - his mellow tones and well timed inflections make for great listening on the road or in the gym. Although I wish he could do a better Mecha-godzilla roar.
All in all, the quest mystery storyline within READY PLAYER ONE is most enjoyable because Cline's writing hooks the reader's interest with wonderful nostalgic bait. If you grew up in this time period gaming, watching TV and were especially plucky and geeky, then you are apt to be reeled in with a smile on your face. Have fun, press play!
We all know that characters and storylines are all in the telling. Volume One has a two solid stories told so well that they will keep you listen on well after you should have gone to bed. Many avid fantasy readers will recognize that the characters, Royce and Hadrian, are similar to (close clones?) Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser characters - however, you know that many superhero and sidekick duo adventures are purely archetypal, and honest fun - Despite the cliche pairing, the two characters become more than your typical duo for they are interesting, troubled, fun and attractive. The telling of the story matters: Volume one is rich in detail, plot setup (the first story is a whooper! And the second monstrous!) and character development. The stories are wonderful and fast paced making them a perfect escape from the lame bickering reality of our current world. Fantasy fans will enjoy the archetypal familiars (elves, dwarves and enchantments oh my) as well as fresh new storylines Sullivan weaves his thieving duo into. I will be reading more of the adventures of Royce and Hadrian because it's a great escape.
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