Several chapters into Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, I’m still not sure how I feel about the writing; the tone, in particular, is a problem for me.
The very beginning of the novel, when Halliday dies and releases his video message, is interesting. My first thought-provoking moment of this novel occurred on page one, when Wade describes the world as being in the middle of an energy crisis and catastrophic climate change. At this point, I was already wondering if it is right that one man should own billions of dollars (though it was from something he created) when the rest of the world is in shambles. This already had me questioning human nature, which is good. I continued to read carefully and enjoyed envisioning the unique, 80s obsessed character in the described video.
A main thought for me at the beginning of chapter one was how similar this novel seemed to be to Harry Potter so far: a boy sleeping in the laundry room, “wedged into the gap between the wall and the dryer” because he’s not allowed in his aunt’s room, and the presence of Halliday’s avatar, “a tall, robed wizard,” before the main character is even introduced.
The similarities stop there. Though Harry Potter faces numerous dangers once he realizes that he’s a wizard and gets to Hogwarts, there is an overwhelming feeling of hope and friendship. Wade’s only hope is to win the ultimate prize, which is money, which is his chance at a decent life. This does not seem inspirational. Also, I understand how bad living conditions at this time are supposed to be; people are supposed to seem desperate, which is what makes the quest for the easter egg so competitive. However, I do not understand the need for all of the religion bashing between pages 16 and 18. The author could make the situation seem desperate by portraying the circumstances; he doesn’t need to make it seem desperate by portraying what humans really are, suggesting that we are what make the situation desperate.
Pages 16-18 feel like Cline ranting about human nature. Here, I feel that he is saying that we are in the terrible situation because of our own actions (which is true, the energy crisis is due to our reliance on fossil fuels that have been used up); my problem with it is that he seems to be saying that this will inevitably happen because that’s just how we are. The tangent on religion is just offensive and doesn’t seem to have a place in this book, at least not to the extent that it exists right now.
To me, this book seems so far to be a very negative portrayal of human nature, where we ruined the world for ourselves and our only salvation is, of course, money (because religion has no place in the future). It is early on, and I will try to keep an open mind, but the tone of the novel is a problem for me already.