(Ready) Player One

I had the worst reading year of my life in 2011 and I know what caused it. A sleek black Dell tablet-phone that became my daily tram companion, which always got preference in bed before I slept. Before I knew it, I’d only read an embarrassing 4 books for the year. My “reading” was probably even higher than a normal – WoW forums, blogs, Twitter, even plain old newspapers and magazines (The Monthly, Game Informer, Beer and Brewer), but what had happened to my love of novels?


I find it quite hard to enjoy a novel for the story alone without factoring in the language, awarding bonus points for complexity, and challenge. It mildly sickens me to read things that I just skim through, with vocab that a grade 5 kid could handle – like a lot of the thick novels in double-spaced font with an inch or more of white border that they try to sell for $30 today, read like. The words need to bite and I need to sense the intellect of the writer.



Two books I got for Christmas were Player One by Coupland, and Ready Player One by Cline. A childish sense of humour suggested I read them one after another. The first in starts, never failing to be shocked by the lazy, breezy style of today’s blockbuster writer, unimpressed until the last 50 pages or so where the true nature of author’s interest blossomed into an amazing flower – what have we as humans, really achieved? Why does everyone think their life has to be a story? Some of it was quite nihilistic and I completely reversed my opinion of the book, despite it finishing off with an unnecessary Addenum / Glossary which looks more like authors notes being used to fill the required 250 pages for the publisher. 4 stars.



Cline’s book reminded me again of being a teenager, when I would roar through 2 novels a day, consuming anything in my path. I haven’t read a book in years that I found as hard to put down, despite the slightly predictable outcome and saccharine style. Having lived through the 80’s and some early video game culture I find today’s obsession with it puzzling. As Woody Alan’s most recent film Midnight in Manhattan repeats – people of each era are enchanted by a previous era, convinced that it was better than their own. 2012 is a future person’s golden age believe it or not, and plenty of people seem to think the 80’s were too.  The book is a frenetic journey through virtual worlds that amazingly doesn’t feel like the author ripped off a few World of Warcraft experiences and added a retro front cover. There’s a fantastic amount of research and work in this novel and I’d be very surprised if they don’t make a movie out of it. 4 stars.