Why he’s great: a wonderfully realized underdog
Everyone loves an underdog. Ernest Cline does an excellent job starting our hero in a position of seeming impossibility. In a world crippled by recession and poverty, where fulfillment is tied to achieving status online, Wade is poor, overweight, socially awkward, and while smart, can’t afford to get the weapons that would help him complete challenges and boost his status, making his avatar a cooler, higher level. Then comes the announcement of Halliday’s last will and testament. The ultimate puzzle game. And suddenly things that had seemed a disadvantage in his life begin to pay off. In wonderful and surprising ways, what had seemed like weaknesses now become strengths. And while he gets ahead through wits and skill in the virtual world, a truly wonderful transformation slowly begins for him in the real world.
All the “heroes” in this story are underdogs in one way or another. It’s a genuine and entertaining read that forces us to question what character traits are of value and also how do we create meaningful connection in an ever more fragmented world. The story also seamlessly navigates Parzival through a barrage of pop culture in a way that is witty and fresh and totally in keeping with his character instead of feeling like a forced tour of a beloved pop culture decade.
RPO plays out along classic quest lines. We have the innocent, unformed hero on the quest for gold, where he will learn that the real treasure is measured in human connection. There is a loss of innocence, the act two moment where the quest appears to stop dead and the hero is alone, needing to regather the team before literally storming the castle and becoming a man. Cline’s screenwriter roots definitely show through in this book.
Yet, while it does hit every beat, Wade never comes off like a bunch of character qualities. He is a fully realized person who may have the deck stacked against him but has our sympathy and excitement in spades.
Owen Meany is great
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https://t.co/1UHQhm57rN Cautiously optimistic about the premise
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