Zack's got a pretty normal life. He's finishing high school, hanging with his friends the two Mikes, and playing video games during his spare time. Then he sees a space ship outside the school window and think he might be going crazy. Until he finds out that the video game has actually just been a preparation for the real threat. And Zack and the other leaders on the game board might be earth's best chance at survival.
What I Liked:
- I just love Cline's writing style. I love the way he puts words together. If you aren't a fan of his style, this story doesn't subsume the style the way I think Ready Player One did, but if you are, then you'll enjoy this.
- The geeky references. Yes, they are copious. Yes, they are on pretty much every page. And yes, I loved pretty much every single one.
- I'm not even sure how to phrase this, except by responding to some criticism I saw - I've seen a number of people complain that this book is just derivative of dozens of other books or movies. What I liked is that this is the exact point of the plot of the book. The point is that it is derivative. There's a purpose for that. I thought it was very clever and entertaining that Cline even has his characters basically make this criticism about their circumstances. It's very self-aware of what it is and embraces that whole-heartedly, which is what makes it work, in my opinion.
- The plot. This is a plot driven book. I found that it pulled me in and kept me engaged to find out what would happen. The characters are sort of secondary, but for some reason, this worked for this book.
- The world building was really fascinating to me this time. In Ready Player One, the story is set in a future dystopic world. Plus there's the development of all of the virtual worlds as well. Here it's set in our world, but not quite. Which to me seems like it would be much harder to write, because everything's familiar, but not really exactly familiar. It gave everything a slightly ... off (for lack of a better word) feeling, like everything was just a hair off-kilter, even before you get to the alien ships, etc.
- Having said that, I would have liked it if the characters were a little better developed. There was so much fantastic potential with many of these characters, but the heavy focus on the plot left many (especially most of the secondary characters) feeling rather flat. Even the main character didn't capture me the way the protagonist of Ready Player One did.
- The female characters were slightly disappointing to me too. They felt more caricatured to me than some of (though not all of) the guys did. Again, a lot of potential if a little more time had been spent on character development.
- The ending felt pretty rushed to me, with a hair too much telling rather than showing. I was initially dissatisfied with the ending altogether, but the more I've thought about it, the more I think it was done completely intentionally to leave everything feeling just a little off.
- A really fun, tilt-a-whirl adventure, peppered with pop culture and sci-fi references.
- Don't expect Ready Player One, but Cline still delivers an entertaining, self-aware story that hurtles towards an inevitable and yet, somehow unexpected ending.