Ready Player One

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Ready Player One

Post by reboundstudent on Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:39 pm

So..... am I the only nerd who really, really hated this book?
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by nearly_takuan on Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:26 pm

The name sounds familiar but apparently I never looked into it. Checked out the Wikipedia page. Doesn't look like something I'd enjoy.
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by Wondering on Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:49 am

I haven't read it, so I can't offer a personal opinion, but my husband did a couple years ago, and I remember him talking about it a lot and enjoying it. I don't know anyone who's read it beside him.

Doesn't sound like my cup of tea, though, just because I'm really not much into sci fi and prefer fantasy, which doesn't really help answer your question.

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Re: Ready Player One

Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:18 pm

I think it's sitting on my shelf in the to-be-read pile, or else in the to-be-read section of my kindle carousel. What made you hate it, if I may ask?
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by reboundstudent on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:17 pm

I plan to write a long, long review for my local geek website, but I suppose a quick summary is it's the very worst things about geek culture all in one book. When describing it to a friend, she summed it up as "a book of micro-aggressions."

For example, not even 3 pages in you're treated to a long rant on militant atheism and how dumb organized religion is. I wouldn't have a problem with that if it served any purpose whatsoever; if the story had anything to do with God, religion or existential crisis. But it doesn't; it's literally just there as a marker that the character is smarter/superior to other folks. (Sound familiar?)

It doesn't stop there. The book is crammed, almost to the point of excluding anything resembling plot momentum, character development, or coherent world building, with 80's geek references (and other geek references, we'll get to that.) But they're not referenced in a funny or knowing way; they're literally just thrown in there as "Hey remember this thing?! Wasn't it awesome??" and then never really referenced again. Ya know those nerds who think quoting Search for the Holy Grail from beginning to end is the height of comedy? This book is what they would write.

For example, in the virtual reality that the characters inhabit for most of the book, they can do quests and get vehicles to ride around in. The character spends a good page describing his; it's a DeLorean, and then he installed an artificial intelligence named KITT, and then he put a Ghostbusters logo on it with personalized plates reading Echo-88, and it has an oscillation overthruster allowing it to go through solid matter, and everybody thinks it's the coolest thing ever. This vehicle is used for ONE FREAKING CHAPTER, and then is mentioned in passing once more. Why the HELL did he feel the need to go into such agonizing detail over it? I can find no other reason except straight-up nerds-are-superior-and-cool pandering.

What's extra bizarre is that I can't imagine anyone BUT nostalgic 80's geeks enjoying the references (and the tons of exposition alongside them; seriously, dude, you don't know to explain that "Family Ties" is a sitcom), and yet he feels the need to explain all of his references, like how to play Joust and the plot of "Explorers." I can't figure out who his audience is; non-nerds (or non-nostalgic nerds like me) probably find the exposition dumps annoying as hell, and nostalgic-nerds don't need all of these things explained to them.

But truthfully, I could almost forgive the references (since the plot of the story centers around a contest where being obsessed with 80's culture is the point) if either the world or the characters were at all engaging.

Instead, the main character is an asshole. I'd give the author HUGE props if it seemed like he was at all attempting a satirical amalgamation of everything wrong with modern nerds, because he nailed it. But I get the feeling he didn't intend it at all. Let's run down the list, shall we?

-Discusses how girls are like an alien species

-Constantly teased for being poor, pop-culture-obsessed, and overweight. This wouldn't bother me if it made any sense in his world. The book takes place in some future apocalypse where the energy crisis is so bad it takes days to travel from Oklahoma City to Columbus, OH. The majority of people are so poor they have to live in stacked-up trailers, with one family per bedroom. Food is scarce to the point where a lot of people are living on government-issued rations (poor nutrition leading to obesity) and poverty so entrenched it's usual for people to sell themselves into indentured servitude just to survive. In the middle of all this, there's a contest going where if you can figure out the 80's-pop-culture-obsessed billionaire's riddles, you will be set for life. So, in the context of this world, why would being poor, overweight, and culture-obsessed be at all remarkable? Answer: because the character isn't meant to make sense in the context of his world, he's meant to be an author/reader stand-in and continue to feed their inferiority complex.

-Looks down on others who enjoy the same media as he does, but can't summon up every single trivial detail to "prove" their worthiness

-Treats geeky girls with reverence, as they are rare and worthy (uuugggghhhh). Side note, the only prominent* female character we meet is the only identified girl in the book, and also happens to be the love interest. Of course, she is portrayed as smarter than the main character, but not as good at video games, so she's worthy for him to love, but not a threat.

-Claims that OASIS users choose exactly 2 types of female body avatars: thin and waifish, or "top heavy" porn star. Except, of course, his love interest. "Art3mis's body was somewhat unusual. Her frame was short and Rubenesque. All curves.... I found her unbearably attractive." Yes, let's please reinforce YET AGAIN that one female body type is superior/special over others, AND THAT IS NOT WHAT RUBENESQUE MEANS. (Her height and weight are later referenced, BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY ARE WHEN NO OTHER CHARACTER IS PROFILED THAT WAY; 5'7" and  168lbs. Oh yes, truly, you have the most outrageous taste, sir, and are superior to all the non-nerds who don't like their women "thick." AHFGJERHWERHJKGH)

-Actually fucking says (well, it's a journal entry by the eccentric billionaire the main character agrees with) that geeks have a harder time getting laid than anyone and that's why everyone should embrace masturbation, because only through slapping the salami can scientific progress march on


-Also actually fucking says to his love interest," I'm a really nice guy, once you get to know me. I swear." (This is after he sent her dozens of messages she didn't respond to. And after she said she was considering blocking him, and he replied he would keep trying anyway. And after she told him they were clearly not dating, and he moped and whined about how she had broken up with him. And after she got mad when he violated her privacy by looking at her IRL information, including her photo, and where she lived.)

-His list of favorite authors and directors. I'm sure you'll not be shocked that they're all white guys, even when they have no reason to be; an obsession with 80's pop culture doesn't explain why the main character loves Gaiman or Tarantino, but apparently doesn't consider JK Rowling or Harry Potter worth mentioning in his hundreds of geek references (he does mention quidditch once, and that's it; Firefly, however, gets at least 4 references.)

-Looks down on people who work for corporations. Even those who are forcibly pushed into indentured servitude.There's a paragraph in which he mentions that he can't stand listening to "the Indents" go on and on about their positive points, and how pathetic they are. This is after he's explained that these people are, due to the system, probably indentured for life, and apparently you need a huge amount of points to even just hang up a poster in your cubicle. But yeah, sure, go ahead and roll your eyes at the "corporate drones."

-Main character makes the same joke three times about how he's terrified that the girl he has an online crush on is "secretly a middle-aged man in his mom's basement." (Again, we have a world of indentured servitude; you'd think stereotypes would update so that the basement-dwelling nerd is no longer such a laughing point.) When he finally speaks to her, he demands to know if she's a girl. "And by that I mean are you a human female who has never had a sex-change operation?" So, have some transphobia along with your fragile heteronormative bs!  



Dear Lord, I could just go on and on. Between the predictable, cookie-cutter plot, the one-dimensional stereotypes of characters, and the pandering, gratuitous nerd references, I think the only way I could have hated this book MORE was if the main character had stepped out of its pages and started beating me with his nerd boner.

It's possible that I'm primed to notice this stuff, because I've now spent years neck-deep in talking about all of the problematic things in nerd culture. I have many friends who loved this book, something that I just cannot comprehend, so it might be that I am now just too overly-sensitive to this stuff. But I can honestly say I've never hated a book more. I want to set the thing on fire and drop kick it into the nearest herd of people who think Fake Geek Girls are totally a thing. Fuck fuck FUCK this book.



Fin.


*************************SPOILERS SPOILER SPOILERS******************

Spoiler:
It turns out the main character's best friend is, IRL, a black lesbian. The majority of the book, we only know her through her avatar, which is a straight, white male. This would score points if her identity had any impact AT ALL on her character. But no, for all intents and purposes, she acts like a straight, white male throughout, throwing around homophobic language (fag, pussy.) Her identity reveal, 3/4ths of the way through the book, doesn't even have an impact on the main character! He doesn't once stop and go "Hey, I was best friends with a girl the whole time, maybe girls AREN'T an alien species and maybe I should be more thoughtful about my assumptions around who other people are." NOPE, it's right back to Business As Usual. Black lesbians are just like straight white guys-racism is over!


Last edited by reboundstudent on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by Enail on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:25 pm

Wow, that review made me want to buy it just so I could throw it across the room! Surprised
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by Caffeinated on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:41 pm

Oh my, that really does sound like an incredibly densely packed bundle of every terrible thing about nerd culture.
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by Enail on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:44 pm

Btw, we do have a tag to hide spoilers. It's the third icon in the third set of icons.
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by Wondering on Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:55 pm

Hmm, okay. I'm going to ask my husband more about this now. Sad

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Re: Ready Player One

Post by caliseivy on Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:38 pm

That all sounds so insufferable. I can't imagine slogging through a book like that.
Have your friends ever said why they like it so much? I'm curious how something that, to me, sounds so bad, someone could find good. I know everyone has differing tastes and all but...

Response to your spoiler :
A black lesbian. I was sure the book was completely homogeneous based on everything else you'd said (actually that would have been better instead of the mega-token). That's a new level of lazy.
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by eselle28 on Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:01 pm

Oh. Dear. I had vaguely meant to get around to reading this, since it seems to be popular with people who share my tastes, but it seems like the only people this is meant for are those who strongly identify with the main character and get a buzz from seeing someone who shares the same preferences zip around a fantasy world, even if that means poor character development and world building.

Which...I get that that's a thing. I read some stuff that's basically the equivalent for people who are like me. Most of it comes with content warning tags or covers that serve as the same, and it doesn't get recommended to people who aren't the target audience as something likely to entertain them and generally only comes up as a way of seeing what other people's daydreams might look like.

I have too many good things to read to do an examination myself, but I might talk to a friend of mine who generally has good taste and who moderately liked it about what aspects of it he found compelling.
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by reboundstudent on Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:21 pm

caliseivy wrote:That all sounds so insufferable. I can't imagine slogging through a book like that.
Have your friends ever said why they like it so much? I'm curious how something that, to me, sounds so bad, someone could find good. I know everyone has differing tastes and all but...

Response to your spoiler :
A black lesbian. I was sure the book was completely homogeneous based on everything else you'd said (actually that would have been better instead of the mega-token). That's a new level of lazy.

One of the friends I talked to, who I consider to have good taste and doesn't usually buy into Nerds-Are-Superior BS, really enjoyed the sci-fi aspect to the technology. There is a lot of time spent on specs and imagining how a virtual reality that intricate and advanced would work. He's a big hardware geek, and that particular part did seem fun/well-done. My friend recognized that the main character was a giant jerk, but it didn't get under his skin quite the same way it did mine.

I have two other friends that loved the book. I haven't had an in depth conversation with either, but the impression I got was that they loved it because it was so nerd-pander-tastic.

The truth is, the more I think about it, the more I'm not surprised that other nerds love this book so much. The stuff that I've listed.... the pandering, the lazy references, the transphobia and homophobic jokes, the superior sense of entitlement, the treatment of women... is so ubiquitous in nerd culture (as we know) that this stuff probably doesn't even register as jarring. I've heard the "har har, my Internet crush might be a man, quelle horror!" joke about a million times from real-life nerds, so is it surprising that such a joke made it into a book that seems practically designed to worship nerdom?
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Re: Ready Player One

Post by sky on Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:45 pm

I enjoyed the book, largely due to the plot being a puzzle that the main character is trying to solve. I like puzzles and heists and other types of stories where the protagonists have to execute a tricky plan.

It also kind of reminded me of Ender's Game, in the way that the world has a cool sounding feature which I wish there was an opportunity to actually experience. (Ender: zero gravity laser tag, Player 1: fully immersive virtual reality video games)

A lot of the 80s references went over my head since that's not a decade I lived through, and I just cringed and tried to read faster when I got to the crummy romance scenes and bad stereotype jokes.
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Re: Ready Player One

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