Ready Player One Review
Izzie’s Rating: 3 / 5
Characters: 3 / 5
Story: 3 / 5
Pacing: 3/ 5
Ending: 2 / 5
Ready Player One was suggested to me by a fellow geek and literary fan after I mentioned my goal to read more in 2013. When she explained the premise, I was instantly sold – in a not-so-distant dystopian future, real life is so broken and miserable that the vast majority of humanity spends most of their time in a super-high-tech, fully immersive virtual world called the O.A.S.I.S. (very reminiscent of Caprica’s “V-World”). Previous to the timeline of the book, the creator of this technology, James Halliday, has died and left Earth with the ultimate quest – find the “egg” hidden deep within the virtual world and inherit his entire fortune, including control of O.A.S.I.S. Needless to say, this puzzle piques the interest of the entire planet – including greedy uber-corps that threaten the freedom and sanctity of the otherwise open world (sound familiar?).
The story plays out like a typical hero’s journey, the adventure of four young enthusiasts as they try to be #1. The whole spiel sounds great, in theory. And it was certainly fun at points. But unfortunately there were a handful of issues I had with the book that greatly hindered my ability to enjoy it as much as I could, or perhaps should, have.
While the book includes footnotes detailing the infinite culture references that are literally strewn about on every page, it’s still at times distracting and almost shaming. I’m sure author Ernest Cline had no intention of assuming every person who picked up this title would know everything referenced, hence the notes, but it takes away from the fun.
I’m a nerd for sure, but a selective one. I’m just not the type of person who’s going to try and know everything about the entire history of geek culture, and I’m completely content with this. But since the vast majority of story centers around a man’s obsession with 1980’s geek and pop culture, and the 80’s is a decade I just personally do not have much of a fondness for, much of what should have spoken to me was lost.
Because of this, many of the moments that I knew should have been “Hey, that’s awesome!” were just mediocre. Every now and then I’d get a reference or an outright mention of something I loved, and those moments were pretty fantastic. So it seems as though the more you know, the better the book will be.
My other big issue was that it felt like the story was way too “try-hard”, ironically because of its obsession with smashing in as many nerd culture references as possible, including aggravating use of “leet”ish verbiage. Newb, Hax0r, faggot, pwned. Spare me.
It reminds me not too much of the movie Gamer: in both instances the focus of trying to be authentic ultimately feels unnatural and forced – and it detracts greatly from an otherwise great concept. Some stuff just doesn’t translate well from fantasy to “reality”, so to speak.
The protagonist is relatable to a point but also a bit two-dimensional. He just feels so typical. Awkward, socially inept, and with way too convenient of a skill set.. His companions aren’t much better, but as a group they are a well-rounded crew. The most in-depth personas belonged to secondary characters – from the cold hearted main villain to the almost jolly fairy-god-poppa we find in Og.
It isn’t a terrible book, by a long shot. It does ask us to reflect on a lot of issues we presently face – battles between free information and corporate control, the steady decline of modern society, loneliness and companionship, and the ever-growing use of entertainment media as a means of escapism. But all of that seems vastly under-explored and overpowered by the desire to make this feel like we’re following a character through a game.
I think anybody who’s looking for quick, easy to digest read who happens to love the 80’s will greatly enjoy it. The more casual among us may find the book more frustrating to get through, though.
In either case, Warner Bros has the rights to the book, and I have a good feeling that the story will translate a lot better into film and is something I would look forward to seeing. Cline has also mentioned in passing that a sequel is definitely being considered, but is not a priority for the time being. He has said that he plans on doing more stories within the same world, if not a direct sequel.
It was brought to my attention recently that there’s an Assassin’s Creed movie in the works, which got me a little more excited than I expected. The honest truth is I’ve played maybe two hours of the entire series (which I promise I’m hoping to change very soon). But it’s always intrigued me a ton; the whole idea of the Animus and past-lives, assassins, and the style and art of the game have totally drawn me in.
Even with little experience, I’m pretty stoked about the movie and will definitely be seeing it, especially considering Ubisoft’s allegedly firm stance on retaining creative control. Most of us gamers have been sorely let down by film adaptions of popular franchises, so it’s easy to be cynical on whether or not the film will be worth seeing. I’m hoping it will.
So here’s what I’m not too excited about: they announced the casting of Michael Fassbender apparently as a lead according to this article from Variety. It’s specficially worded as:
“Michael Fassbender was our first choice” to play the franchise’s iconic hooded hero
That’s kind of a let-down, assuming they follow the games and that hero is Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, a very Syrian kind of guy. It’s ironic to make such a casting and then conclude with these sentiments:
By controlling more of the creative through UMP, Ubisoft hopes it doesn’t wind up with another “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,”
Funny, since one of the biggest critisims was that film’s casting of predominately white actors.
Izzie’s Rating: 3.5-4/5
Spoiler-free review up to the jump.
I ended up with Hunger Games in my hands after it was being passed around dinner among my hometown friends. A good chunk of them had read it and they all kept gloating about how it was really, really good. After they described it as Battle Royale meets Battlestar Gallactica with a touch of Lord of the Flies, I decided to give it a solid go.
The premise is a bit complex. Some time in our eerily possible future, a natural-disaster and post-war ridden North America has fallen into a a new nation called Panem. It’s a totalitarian system of the luxurious, indulgent Capitol, the privileged inner districts, and the severely impoverished outer districts. A revolution breaks out, but due the the Capitol’s strategic location and superior weaponry, the rebellion fails and the 13th district completely obliterated. As punishment, the remaining 12 districts are forced into a blood-sport each year called the Hunger Games. Each must send two children, one male and one female, from the ages of 12 to 18 to a televised fight to the death. 74 years later is when the trilogy begins.
Through circumstance our protagonist is sent to the games and we follow her story of survival and defiance, and how it transforms her, the people around her, and the nation as a whole, for better or for worse.
I have to say- I really could not put this series down. I devoured half of the first book in one night, and the second half over the course of the next day between reading on the bus and at my desk when I should have been doing work. I ended up buying the set and finishing up the rest by the weekend. Since then my feelings on the series have varied greatly.
I’m a sucker for post-apocoypic Orwellian revolutions with a touch of sci-fi, and the Hunger Games delivers on these fronts. I also admit I did get caught up a bit with the love-triangle, perhaps for the wrong reasons, but that enjoyment started to fade quickly with the second book as it became aggravatingly prominent. The trilogy is targeted for a younger audience… older teens / young adult readers, so the style is a far cry from, say, A Song of Ice and Fire. Collins plays up the romantic melodrama a lot. It’s also written in first person from the point of view of our protagonist Katniss Everdeen, so our views of the world and events are through the mind of a sixteen-year-old girl. It’s believable to a point. She is mature and cynical due to her circumstances, and she’s certainly no Bella, but she still has her flaws. And boy are they major.
If I had to sum up the series, I’d give it a solid B+/A- rating. Over all, the story is really intriguing and unexpectedly addicting. The characters each carry their own unique personalities and rarely falter outside their natural evolution. For the most part there is a good mix of drama, action, suspense, and yes, even romance. The three books feel solid together but each carries its own theme and mood (something I imagine would have been distracting when waiting for the next one to come out, however, in one go it works). Now the ending is.. well, hotly debated among fans. Many people aren’t happy with it, myself included, but the whole adventure is considerably worthwhile.
I’d still highly recommend it to most, especially those interested and informed on the subjects of social issues and discontent within society. Panem and its situation strikes a little too close to home with the recent surge of demonstrations worldwide and it’s hard not to compare our turmoiled world and this very possible outcome. Could this be our future? The sudden burst of popularity for the Hunger Games during these hectic times is something to keep a keen eye on. And despite its target audience, it’s still mature enough to handle for most readers and touches those little guilty pleasures with just the right amount to give us a wonderful world to disappear into and reflect upon.
Spoiler Warning: The rest of the review is going to include some major spoilers, including character deaths. I suggest you stop now if you haven’t read it. Additional Warning: comments may ultimately contain spoilers.
Open Forum: For those of you who’ve read the series, what do you think? What are your views on Katniss as a protagonist? How do you think the film will affect, if at all, the recent uprising of protest? How did you like the ending?
I managed to spend about an hour at the NY/NJ Tech Group emergency meetup / protest yesterday. Listening to the very influential speakers and just the general chatter really got me thinking about what SOPA/PIPA means to me.
I’ve never been an angel. I was a huge pirate during my high-school / college years; at my most ignorant I’d brag at how many thousands of dollars worth of stolen content I owned.
But now, as a functioning adult and someone who’s hoping to break into an industry that is victimized by piracy (gaming, and art to an extent), I am doing my best to rectify those choices by paying for the content I enjoy as much as possible. I can thank Amazon, Pandora, Netflix, Steam and even iTunes for that. Through these websites I have discovered new shows, movies, games, music, books, and the like, all of which I am able to watch and enjoy knowing I paid for it or supported it legally.
Something of note, though: In my many years as a rabid fangirl of many franchises, I can say with upmost confidence that 90% of the time, discovering the series’ and artists that I currently love was through a method that would be considered illegal either by current or future “laws”. I think that stands true for a lot of people in my generation, and likely most in those after me. I can’t even tell you how many songs and artists I discovered from fan-made music videos on youtube or gaming streams. Or how many shows I got into because I saw them at a college meeting or a clip online. How many games I discovered playing on a friend’s account. How many old passions were rekindled because I ran into a great fanart or fanfic or an animated GIF.
Legislation like SOPA and PIPA would do nothing but hinder this process of discovery and the spread of quality entertainment. In fact, I believe it would cause the complete opposite by encouraging a shadier and perhaps more risky internet “black market” by making content harder to discover and enjoy.
It’s strange how 10 years can change things. Despite the impact 9/11 had on me and my family and the sad losses we faced, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t feel like a bad, distant dream these days. But as I began to write this months ago, everything came back to me. My heart raced and my eyes teared, because that day was all too real.
So this might be kind of long-winded, but, I thought it was worth writing as a reminder to myself and perhaps as a form of venting.
I’m a hoarder. A hoarder of art supplies.
I’m sure you’ve heard all those rumors about how crazy artists tend to be. Well, it’s pretty true. We each have oddities that make us who we are. Call it a different perspective.
We all share a few traits, too, and compulsive hoarding of art supplies is one common habit you’ll find. You see, artists revere their tools as an extension of themselves. If you think of art feudal wars in ancient Japan, and artists as hulking samurai following the code of bushido, than the tools and mediums we use are akin to our katana. That came out way more poetic than I meant it to be, but it’s fairly accurate.
Anyway, putting it that way, you might see why we pretty much never, ever throw out our art supplies. I still have bottles of india ink that I stole from my high school art class, afterall. Dried up and everything, and I can’t seem to throw them away. It’s like blasphemy.
Anyway, today I pooled together my sketchbooks, specialized papers, reference books, and cavases to show the world, and to remind myself next time I get the urge to buy a new one.
If you hear me mention it ever… STOP ME.
Exibit 1) Sketchbooks & Specialized Paper
This is probably the worst of it. In all, I have 11 sketchbooks in the first 2 columns. Eight of those are pairs. The last 4 columns are all specialized paper. I’m in love with the grey graph paper with white lines (newest additions). Green notebooks were given to me in highschool and so they have about six years of random doodles. The progression from terrible to not so terrible is fun to see in one notebook. Not sure where the cat one came from, though.
Exibit 1a) Pairs
I don’t even know what this is all about, but if there’s a baby version, apparently I must have it.
These are my top 9 instruction books. First column is an amazing collection of reference photos!! I swear by those for dynamic images. The second column is basic drawing instruction. Fashion helps me with poses and clothing. Drawing helps me with basic anatomy, and the anatomy is another good source for poses. Last column: Artist’s handbook is an overall reference for different media and technique. Virtual pose has alot of naked people, and style school is a Japanese (backwards!) book on color technique!
Exibit C) Canvas
Once upon a time I used to paint, a lot. And I bought a whole bunch of new acrylics and canvas during a phase. That was about a year ago, and I have 2 finished paintings and about 15 half finished ones XD.
Way back in the days of yore (my freshman year of college) we had to make our on canvases. Which mean, buying a roll of canvas, getting the wood, frakking STAPLING that shit together, AND PAINTING THE GESSO ON DX!!!
Next time I think I’ll go through my supply box (markerssss!!!!) and get some lulz out of how much of those I own, as well.
If people didn’t know any better, you’d think all I do in New York is eat (well.. that’s kind of true.)
Grand Central Terminal (AKA Grand Central Station) is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. It’s a mix of classic architecture and design with modern-day functionality. Which makes it awesome.
I’ve always been a fan of the zodiac and astrology, and the ceiling of Grand Central is a giant painting of the constellations.
On each level, you have tracks (metronorth and the LIRR) leaving for Connecticut and Long Island. I decided to grab lunch today down in the dining concourse, which is in the “basement” so to speak. It’s home to a huge variety of food; pretty much any classic ethnic meal you’d want, you can find (I went with falafel today!) And a few popular chains like Juniors and Hale & Hearty Soups.
The station itself is pretty huge. Several levels and lots of wings, I always end up finding someplace completely new every time I go just to wander. I’ll have to go back and take pictures of the shops you can find (the fresh market is EPIC).
Stuff I have coming up: Port Authority Bust Terminal (ugliest building in NY) and Bryant Park!
So I’ve been having trouble getting inspired to do artsy thing, be it drawing, sketching, or just free-form writing. It’s easy to try to look elsewhere for inspiration; friends, idols, culture.
But wanting to inspire myself is a little harder. While looking for classes to take over the summer one instructor described his course as tapping in to the inner artist; we all have two, the outer artists who observes and records and the inner artist who creates. I need to find the latter and shake her back into existence.
Anyway, point of this “series” so to speak is to inspire myself by drawing, sketching, doodling, and scribbling in my sketchbooks / notebooks and scanning all my old crap (we’re talking 10+ years of madness) to remind myself of those days when I was freer. You know, back in college and high-school when I wasn’t quite corrupted / jaded by adulthood and responsibility and actually had the time and energy to let my mind drift into the very scary abstract unknowns of my being. And shit.
Today’s scan dates back to sophmore year of college (age 19-20) where I apparently was taking notes in ancient runic & making a list of things that aggravate me.
I will eventually get around to translating the runes, since I have forgotten it enough that I can’t read it off the top of my head anymore. Yes, I used to be able to, but I also used to know the entire Pokérap by heart. Many things fade with time, it would seem.
But yes. My top 3 annoyances at the time were women w/ strollers, know-it-alls, and George Bush.