As a 30-year-old writer, poet, gamer, etc, I truly thought I’d read some of the best fantasy books that I would ever find. That was until I stumbled upon a book titled “Ready Player One” suggested to me by a co-worker. At first I thought it was just a book about some geeky kid who failed at life…without even reading the first page, and boy was I wrong and in for an amazing journey. This was my first and most powerful introduction into the world of “Literary Role Playing Games” or what has been known as (Litrpg) as authors I’ve come across have named this sub-genre. I will put in here however that this book itself has little to NO direct correlation with the actual litrpg genre, only a small amount of elements, as a disclaimer. With all this being said, lets begin the review of this very powerful and iconic story.
World/Environment Building: 4.0/5.0 Stars
Mr. Cline does a good job at bracing the readers for this digital universe in which our main character (MC for short) Wade Watts does a great monologue plotting out our mental constellations, planet coordinates and journey. There are landscapes, sun rises and sunsets throughout the telling of this book. The only thing that was missing until almost the end of the book and a little at the beginning of the book was how the simple geography of the world’s discovered and interacted with effected the story telling as well as characters actions. By this I mean the world’s are sometimes glanced at and skipped over when in potential slowing down of the plot, almost like it would hinder the book’s progress for a few sentences. The absolute saving grace is where the atmosphere and environment is critical to the story, Mr. Cline writes it over and over like he’s signing his signature. He paints the picture like an artist should and leaves you in a world where you can almost feel the Ms Pac-Man arcade system in front of you, ready for that lonely quarter to throw down.
Story-Line: 4.0/5.0 Stars
The straight forward premise of the book became a double-edged sword in productivity, honestly. On one hand, Wade, Aech, Art3mis, and to a lesser extent Daito and Shoto. On one side, the story line is quite obvious and talked about in the first pages of the book. It sends a clear message of what the book, on the outside, had meant to convey to the audience through Wade’s dialogues and monologues. This, at the very least leaves the reader with a pathway, a sense of focus on the finish line, so no one can fall off on the long ride into destiny. On the other side, this presents a problem of being too focused on the story, at a cost. Fortunately the cost isn’t too high to sacrifice the story for the sake of the finish line, but nevertheless it does leave some damage in its wake. The romance within the story could have developed a lot more but, was shorted for sake of the last goal, and left partly unfinished. Also, some other ethical issues that I won’t say because it would simply spoil the book in a major way. All in all, it wasn’t suppose to be a “feel good” story, but an adventure that could be potentially epic and overall it doesn’t disappoint.
Characters: 5.0/5.0 Stars
This is a highly critical section personally, because I filter through characters, their flaws, accomplishments, and downfalls with a fine tooth comb. Mr. Cline, with the audio help of Mr. Will Wheaton, gives us just enough flaws for every single main character, and I mean even Sorrento…god help me, to be lovable, yes I said lovable. The reason this epic has been so popular, and has been a cult hit since it was put out for the public has been because of the characters. Those chapters are more about the characters than the real story-line, something rarely seen anymore. Mr. Cline constructs his characters like Lego pieces, building blocks upon blocks until monuments stand before the readers. These pieces are were the real miracle comes out, they capture your attention so deeply that in hindsight the environment, plot, and ending come become almost background noise. I do not know if that was the intention after all, but it is wasn’t, then “lady luck” has been on Mr. Cline’s side for a long time.
Narration: 4.0/5.0 Stars
To be honest, I was hyper critical of Mr. Wheaton coming into this audio book. I wasn’t sure if he could transition the skills needed to go from character to character successfully and sustain that momentum throughout the 348 pages. I’ll gladly “eat crow” this time around. I say this because outside of my positive opinion of Will’s performance, he has over 57,000 5 star rating on Audible for Ready Player One. Let that sink in, the reviews on Audible are without a doubt….brutal. Mr. Wheaton gets better with voice and personality transitions as the story progresses, he catches emotions perfectly, with just enough either silence or conversational cadence, meaning if the character is nervous he speeds up his talking pace, etc. Given Mr. Wheaton’s online and media reach, he was going to be under heavy scrutiny for his role in this and Armada, but he took on the role of narrator with pride and handled himself very professionally.
Overall: 4.75/5.0 Stars
This book was the gateway to the wonderful land of litrpg’s and will forever be one of the greatest books I’ve ever read and listened to. This took me back to the days where pop culture references were met with smiles, laughs, and overall joy than being considered cliché. With full confidence, I know that there are many authors who’ve drawn their urge to create dynamic role-playing components, awe-inspiring mental environments, and characters who can make you think “they’re just like me”. It might sound childish at first, but every good author out there has the intelligence of an adult with the mind of a child. I challenge you, the reader to find one great author who doesn’t and ill find you twenty who’ll stick their tongue out at you…
With this I leave you to ponder, research and enjoy. It might be that this book and this author changes your life, if not then find those authors who’s lives were changed because of this book. I know this author speaking to you now certainly has. I’ve left certain aspects of the book either vague or completely abandoned on purpose, just like Wade, it might be time for you to go on a quest of your own. Below are a handful of authors I know that have taken up the mantle of litrpg’s and ran with it, the epics they have created with leave you speechless and wanting more, I know it has for me.
Blaise Corvin – Author of Delvers LLC & Luck Stat Strategy
Luke Chmilenko – Author of Ascend Online
Travis Bagwell – Author of Awaken Online & Awaken Online: Precipice (March 31st)
James Hunter – Author of Viridan Online: Cataclysm & Viridan Online: Crimsom Alliance
Gregg Horlock – Author of Difficulty: Legendary & Tinker, Tailor, Giant, Dwarf
Aleron Kong – Author of The Land: Chaos Seeds Series
N.A.K Baldron – Author of Project Phoenix
Robert Bevan – Author of The Critical Failures Series
Michael-Scott Earle – Author of the Lion’s Quest Series
Harmon Cooper – Author of the Feedback Loop Series
Jeff Sproul – Author of Sigil Online: Paragon