Book 52 of 52(!): "Ready Player One" and "Armada", by Ernest Cline

Finally, the end of my year!  52 books done – one a week!  And to wrap things up, I’m finishing with one of the most critically acclaimed and bestselling novels of last year – and its more recent sequel, just for good measure.

Both of these books, “Ready Player One” and “Armada”, are built around a science fiction premise, but mainly are homages to all things eighties, with tons of references to pop culture, video games, movies, television shows, songs, and more.  Here’s a brief summary of each:

In “Ready Player One”, it’s the future, and the world’s gone to hell.  Most people escape into the OASIS, a virtual reality where there are almost no limits on what you can do.  The billionaire founder of OASIS died a decade previously, and left his fortune hidden as an “easter egg” somewhere in OASIS.  The protagonist decides to find this easter egg – but he’ll have to hurry, since an evil corporation bent on monetizing OASIS is also after the egg!

In “Armada”, the main character is amazed to see a spaceship hovering over his school – and not just any spaceship, but one of the ships from his favorite online game! As it turns out, this online game has been created by the government, secretly training people all over the world to fight the oncoming alien hordes!  It’s a situation straight out of a bad B-movie – and, in fact, it seems a little too contrived…

Both of the books are great, with one glaring flaw – others have pointed out that, while Cline excels at many aspects of writing, his female characters are flat and exist basically so the male leads can have someone to flirt with.  At some points, it almost feels like a fan fiction for men to indulge in their “damsel in distress” fantasies.

But despite that single weak point, the rest of the story is great, the references are EVERYWHERE, and the books definitely have a solid, strong plotline.  I’m glad I read them!

And now, on to 2016!

Time to read: 2-3 hours each.

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