A while back, this book went viral on social media because it was censored by Nick Cole‘s publishers. I purchased it because I liked the cover and the concept. It was that simple. It looked like classic sci-fi. I read it and enjoyed it…and months later, I remembered all the books I had planned on reviewing when my husband gave me a Kindle Fire as a present (my other Kindle is old; if not first generation, close, and it’s difficult to access the library from the device). So here is the first review.
I will reiterate that I enjoyed this book. It was a lot of fun to read. However, I have mixed feelings about it. On his blog, Cole compares his work to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. I loved Ready Player One…and yet, I felt pandered to the entire book. It was odd to be immersed in the story while constantly telling myself, Wow, I sure am the audience of this book! Unfortunately, I often had the same thoughts while reading Nick Cole’s book, and I was helped along by my fellow readers, who are also the audience for this book, when they highlighted such gems as this:
Which was an important and must- have skill in the current times of perpetual outrage and fines by the misdemeanor- level Micro-Aggression Courts.
On my Kindle Fire, I can see my own highlighting right below my fellow readers’. By contrast, I highlighted what I found to be an absurd and funny bit of text:
Ron Rourke swiveled his chair back and forth, absently whistling some long- lost tune to himself, as if trying to capture a moment long gone from back in the 1980s. As if trying to get it right for umpteenth time in a set of umpeenth times. Never completely satisfied he’d actually gotten it right because if that were to happen then he’d suddenly be back there, wherever “there” was, back when that song was playing in the background of a seemingly ordinary moment that would become so important in the hindsight of the years to come.
I’m not one for destroying my reading experience with highlighting text (I’m not in school any longer, friends — no need to highlight relevant paragraphs for further literary analysis), so that’s the only paragraph I bothered to highlight. It’s a brilliant paragraph, but it’s hardly the only brilliantly funny paragraph in the book. Nick Cole is funny. But he’s also playing a political pandering game, with a not very subtle nudge-nudge, wink-wink at his audience.
Ultimately, though, it’s a fun and satisfying story that reaches for something greater than Ready Player One (to continue with my comparison), with themes such as the blind seeing farther than those with sight, self-sacrifice, uniting with one’s supposed enemies to fight the real enemy in the midst. It almost makes it there, too, and then…the end happens. The end was a rushed few pages of the the world is destroyed and then set right again, oh, and by the way, everything turns out perfectly for our heroine in one paragraph because corporations are benevolent, unlike the modern welfare states* (this sudden bold assertion at the end that corporations will save us is a little jarring; it would make a good conversation to have throughout the book, though). And one of the characters who wasn’t sacrificed to save the world, JasonDare, was entirely dropped. Did he have a happy ending, too? I don’t know.
How many stars do I give this book? That’s a hard call. I love the author’s satire. In fact, after having listened to a video here of the author being interviewed, I realized I probably like the author as a person, too. But that isn’t enough to persuade me to give his book five stars. So I’ll settle for four.
*I originally used the term socialist until I read the relevant section in the book again. Modern welfare states aren’t exactly the same thing as socialist states.