The Book of Sawce, Chapter 5 – A Book with a Number in the Title

A number spelled out is still a number.

A number spelled out is still a number.

Well, I think it’s time to admit I’m not completing the reading challenge this year.  I mean, I’m still gonna give it the ol’ college try, but it ain’t looking good for Sawce.  Yeah, no good excuse as to why it’s taken me so long to get back to this.  I just have so much in my backlog that other parts of it inevitably fall to the wayside.  I’m giving it another go, though.  Went on a cruise and knocked out four books on the list.  Still extremely far behind, but–as with the Harlem Globetrotters–I like being down in the final quarter so my victory looks all the better.  Now then, without further ado, let’s talk about a book with a number in the title.

Ready Player One is Ernest Cline’s first novel, and it’s quite a debut.  We’re introduced to the year 2044 where things aren’t looking so good for planet Earth (the future rarely does).  Most everyone spends their time jacked into James Halliday’s free OASIS–a massive virtual reality.  The world sucks so much that their lives are almost entirely spent in there.  People go to school, work, and date in it.  Only thing they have to do in the real world is eat, sleep, and use the bathroom.  It was quite peaceful…until Halliday died.  See, Halliday pulled a Gold Roger:  He hid an Easter Egg in his game for someone to find, and whoever finds it gets his entire fortune (it’s in the billions).  The great egg hunt began, but died off after a few years.  Then, one day, the world finds out that the player Parzival has found the first clue, and the game begins again.

I loved this book.  A lot.  I read it in two sittings–on a bus and on a plane.  The world is one we’ve kinda seen before, but I like the idea of having all these trailers and campers stacked on each other to make these sort of hobo skyscraper slums.  The sheer size of OASIS is also really neat.  While reading it, I just kept trying to fathom the size of such a place, but I couldn’t really do it.  Another great thing about this book–especially for people my age–is that it’s a love-letter to ’80s and ’90s pop culture.  Halliday grew up during that period, so a lot of OASIS and clues to his fortune are derived from those decades.  The gunters (egg hunters) have to be well-versed in the games, films, TV, and music of that time to have any hope of finding Halliday’s Egg.  I knew I’d love this book as soon as I realized The Tomb of Horrors was going to play a huge part in the early going.

That passion for those decades are also kinda a drawback for me.  Those elements tend to overpower the story and characters at times, and it just becomes distracting hearing all these titles and being told why they’re important.  Granted, that’s what nerds do, but it was still off-putting.  Also, even though I loved that evil D&D module being in the beginning, that whole part dragged a bit.  We’re told Parzival has found the first clue in the prologue, but it feels like it takes forever to be told how he found it.  I guess a lot of that is because we were still getting exposition at the point.  After that, the story picks up quite a bit.

Not entirely sure what I want to say about the characters, though.  There was definitely development.  Parzival and his staunchest allies Aech and Art3mis go through some rough crap together, and they do noticeably change.  At the same time, something felt a little off.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved them.  It’s just…I don’t know.  I’ll have to come back to that topic in the future whenever I re-read the book.  The main antagonist, Nolan Sorrento, is an enjoyable dirtbag.  I really, really hope that Guy Pearce plays him in the film adaptation.  He’s who I pictured whenever the character showed up.

Despite it looking like I have more complaints than praise, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  Definitely my second favorite book I’ve read for the challenge so far (I’ve yet to write about number one–which I also read on the cruise).  Next up is a book written by someone under 30.  What will it be?  Stay tuned to find out.

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