Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Book Review

ready-player-one-book-cover

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s been a while since I did a formal structured review and I’d like to work though my thoughts on this book. (For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.)

I devoured Ready Player One in record speed (for me) and despite being addictive, I’ve got mixed feelings.

**Warning Spoilers**

ready-player-one-book-cover

Characters

I liked

I greatly enjoyed the characters of Halliday and Ogden. They were obviously based off of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, with more than a little Gandalf thrown in for fun.

I liked the over the top villain Sorrento. True mustache twirling baddy, who pulled no punches and didn’t do anything particularly stupid.

I didn’t like

Any of the main characters. The main character was a whiny undereducated obsessive with an extremely unhealthy crush. The love interest was a fantasy geek girl who had similar interests to the main character. She was a wilting flower embarrassed by her appearance and in the end enamoured with the protagonist’s ability to look past it. There was also the token 80’s obsession with the honorable Japanese characters.

The only character that could have been interesting was Aech. Unfortunately what could have been a source of tension and actual character growth was tacked on at the end to show that the main character is an okay guy.

Each character is a stereotype of 80’s movies, tv, and books. I’m not sure if this was intentional but it certainly wasn’t effective at creating well developed or relatable characters. Add in the odd transphobic, sexist, or homophobic comments and I really didn’t like these characters.

For characters, I give it 1 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The book suffered from the biggest strength and weakness of the first person narrative. It’s biggest strength is urgency and quick pacing.

The author was great at referencing nostalgia without needing to explain it. The world building was well executed.

The word and sentence construction was perfectly balanced in the exciting bits.

I didn’t like

The biggest weakness of a first person narrative is the narrator. If a reader doesn’t like the main character, it hurts the book, which leads authors to give their characters super-powers that either make no sense or are too convenient. In this case the character had perfect luck and the ability to play any classic video game at an expert level.

For writing style, I give it 4 out of 5.

Story

I liked

I absolutely loved the puzzles and the quest. It was a perfect combination of trivia and classic MacGuffin hunt. The nostalgia was pretty well done and it actually informed the story instead of controlling it.

I didn’t like

It was predictable. It was a classic MacGuffin quest. I could tell you all the notes it would hit and how it would end by the end of the first act.

The nostalgia was awesome but at some parts I wanted to move on with the story not hear more about John Hugh.

I give the story 3 out of 5

Fun

I liked

The world and puzzles were fantastic. Both of them drove the plot and the interest. The author did a great job of capturing and referencing the feel and excitement of 80’s nostalgia. The excitement of the hunt was expressed in such a way to make me feel the same need to continue. It’s the mark of an author who really knows how to excite their audience.

I didn’t like

The characters and plot were predictable. The love story was painfully bad and partially toxic. I hate the “demure woman who is obsessed with her appearance” trope. As in all 80’s media where they tried to have a love interest that was the equal to the character, she was better qualified then he was in every way to win the contest.

I give it 4 out of 5 for fun

Overall

This is a fun and quick book with quite a few problems. Its thick slathering of nostalgia, exciting puzzle game, and interesting world are the only things that saves it from a weak 80’s quest with weaker 80’s character tropes.

Final score is 60%

Blush: Recommendation Wednesday

Assigned Male webcomic by Sophie Labelle. Image from Sophie's Twitter header.

The baby Dragon has been very clingy, which has been limiting my research time, so the post on period blood is going to have to wait until two weeks from now. In the meantime, this awesome and adorable webcomic is my recommendation for today:

Assigned Male webcomic by Sophie Labelle. Image from Sophie's Twitter header.
Assigned Male webcomic by Sophie Labelle. Image from Sophie’s Twitter header.

It’s called Assigned Male, written by Sophie Labelle. You can find the comic on Tumblr, like it on Facebook, follow Sophie on Twitter (@assignedmale), buy stuff from its Etsy shop, support it on Patreon, and eventually, hopefully, find the comic on its website. The website is currently down because of a violent series of death threats and hacking, which you can read about here and here.


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Database of the Ageless Kings (Serial Story) Part 6

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Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 3.5 | Part 4 | Part 5

Part 6: An Emu Gets Bored as People Talk

Sophia was tired, she’d been up most of this whole crazy adventure and that just added to the surreal feel of what was going on.

They were all sitting in a child sized purple house, drinking tea from a floral china tea set, discussing something that couldn’t exist. Sitting next to her, his long legs uncomfortably folded on the tiny chair, was the Prince, one of the Galactic Heirs. On her other side was a tiny robot girl who controlled the black market trading moon they were on. The only normal thing was Hagrid the Emu sitting in the corner of the room looking utterly bored. Somehow knowing an Emu’s emotional state was now normal…

“Stop!” both Sophia and Phil said at the same time as Little Sister was describing the power of the Database of Ageless Kings.

Smiling awkwardly at each other, Phil gestured at Sophia to continue. “What you’re describing is impossible. It goes against physics, common sense, and isn’t possible with the level of technology you or he have.”

“Oh you’re silly. Of course it’s possible. “Any sufficiently advanced’—”

“I know Clark’s three laws. But it’s still no possible.”

Little Sister smiled and said, “I’m happy Arthur made it to your earth. I was worried about him. The Galaxy was once much more advanced then it is. I was built near the end of the decline and even my designs are far beyond what we can accomplish now. The Database exists, whether you believe in it or not.”

Sighing Philip asked, “And why would we want to know where it is?”

The small robot that looked like a child turned her pigtailed head sideways and squinted her eyes. After staring at him for a few seconds she spoke slowly as if she were talking to an idiot. “Someone is trying to kill you. They’ve killed your entire family and several solar systems. Whoever is responsible pretends to be your older sister but rules for afar. Don’t you want to find out what happened?”

“If the Database does record everything that has happened, ignoring the magical reality altering aspects you mentioned, it would be incredibly powerful. Why wouldn’t you go to it yourself?”

“This,” Little Sister pointed at her body, “Isn’t me. This is just my avatar. My database, programing, and essence are all built deep inside the moon. I can’t leave because I am built into this place.”

Getting annoyed with the circuity of Little Sister’s conversation, Sophia snapped, “So what’s your price. We find this magical artifact and turn you into a real girl?”

It was rude and she knew it. She doubly knew it when Hagrid jumped up, made a huffing noise and head-butted her in the shoulder.

“Yuck. Why would I want to be a fleshbag that goes bad after less than a hundred years?” Little Sister seemed genuinely disgusted.

Hagrid started walking around them in the small room.

“You want the tech. Don’t you?” Phil asked.

“Yes. My systems are deteriorating and no one was kind enough to program me with my own design specs. I’m dying for no reason other than the fact that we don’t know how I was made. If I could get the information from the Database, I could repair and improve myself.”

Phil looked at Sophia and his full lips were turned down. Her heart thumped a little faster. He was feeling sad for a moon sized computer being called Little Sister. Even with everything that had happened to him in the past few days, he still took time to feel for her. Sophia knew in that moment that no matter what he chose to do, she’d follow him.

“Ok. How do we get to the Database?” he asked.

“It’s really quite simple. You need to go to the galaxy’s core. You’ll find it on the planet in the exact centre of the galaxy protected from the gravity of hundreds of black holes by a powerful shield.”

“But… how?” Phil sputtered her hands flailed up and down. “The gravity would destroy any ship that goes close to the core, not to mention the time distortions, or the radiation from all the suns.”

Thinking about it Sophia said, “I’m pretty sure I can modify an artificial gravity generators to counteract the gravity of the core. But I don’t think the one on your ship would be strong enough.”

Looking at her, impressed, Little Sister said, “Very clever. I’m impressed. There’s only one kind of ship that has a powerful enough gravity generator for your purposes.”

“An imperial battleship.” Phil’s voice was monotone and defeated.

“Do not despair young Prince. I know where you can find one that was partially destroyed.”

Crinkling his face he asked, “This sounds both much too easy to get too and much too troublesome to use effectively. If it was designed as a surveillance device, shouldn’t there be an easier way to interface with it? And if it’s that powerful, shouldn’t it be harder to get to?”

“Yes to all your questions. The Database can only be used by one of the royal line. They must go to the core, prove their worth, and then the Database will connect with them. Once connected, the royal can use it simply by concentrating.”

“Whoa!” both Sophia and Phil exclaimed. Hagrid gave a similar chirp.

From there on, it was all an exchange of coordinates and signing contracts. As they were leaving, Little Sister pulled Sophia aside and said, “He’s been hurt. He’s lost everything. Be patient with him and make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid.”

Read Next


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?

Parasomnia Cover Reveal and Pre-Order

parasomnia ebook cover

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

A lot of work goes into a book cover, especially if the author has input and is picky. This cover took a lot of work from the wonderful Caro at Renaissance Press and I think it looks great.

parasomnia ebook cover

At the Aux-Anges Institute, nestled in the woods outside of North Bay, they study and treat parasomnias, or sleep disorders. Ashley suffers from night terrors, Terrance sleepwalks, Kiri sleep-eats, and Paul sets fires; they are there for treatment. Adelaide took the job as a counselor to discover why she still has an imaginary friend.

When they discover the secret hideout of an old club called the Dreamers, they are shocked to find that the five of them are connected through more than just the Institute.

You can Pre-Order the book from Renaissance Press’s Website. 

The book will hopefully have a few early copies ready for Montreal’s Queer Between the Covers.

What do you think of the cover?

Later days,

Éric

Star Trek Cruise

Image from Star Trek the Cruise.

Due to the success of the first Star Trek cruise last year, they are having two consecutive cruises this year!

Image from Star Trek the Cruise.
Image from Star Trek the Cruise.

If you act fast enough (before July 31), you don’t have to pay a deposit or payment until August 15th! The cheapest inside cabins are waitlist only at this time, but there are still some reasonably priced cabins left.

There is also a contest to win a free cabin!

Prices on the website do NOT include air, but how fortunate – you know how to contact a travel consultant! 😉

So if you’re looking for something to do in early January 2018, love Star Trek, and enjoy cruising, this trip is for you!


Are you interested in taking the Star Trek Cruise? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Éric’s 5 Rules of Customer Service

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I had a particularly bad experience this past week with a company that obviously didn’t care about their customers.

I’ve worked in customer service in one way or another since I was sixteen and nothing pisses me off more than bad customer service. My current jobs are all about customer service. A repeat customer is essential to building a small business or even, as an author, a readership.

Meet-the-Headhunter-Brandon-Young1

5. Don’t complain about customers to other customers

If you can’t be trusted to not badmouth your customers, than there’s no reason for your customers to trust you. It has nothing to do with the person your badmouthing and everything to do with the trust you will lose from the customer you’re complaining to.

4. It’s okay to make mistakes / Never blame the customer

If you made a mistake, people will understand that you’re not a machine. Just apologize and if warranted make amends. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice and above all else, NEVER blame the customer.

3. Treat everyone equally

This shouldn’t be an issue anymore but for some reason racism, sexism, ageism, and classism all seem to still influence our perspective on clients. Don’t judge someone based on what they look like, it’s stupid. Keep an open mind and treat all clients like they are important.

2. A customer wants to feel important

When I walk into a store or go online etc. I want to feel like someone cares if I buy something. That could be a small thing like someone asking if I need help. When you’re dealing with a customer make them feel like they’re important and they’ll want to buy something.

1. Fulfill your promise

When you work in customer service you are making a promise to do what you say you do. If you work retail, you should know what you’re selling. If you are offering a service, you complete that service.

This is more than just the product and the pitch, you have to do all the fiddly bits right too. If you make an appointment, be there on time. If you say you’ll do something, do it.

You could have the greatest product in the world, but if you act incompetently it will reflect poorly on you and your product.


If you liked this list, you should read Éric’s 5 Rules for Being Professional