Pick of The Week Pop Culture News Reviews

WE CAN READ: He Said, She Said Book Reviews of ‘Ready Player One’ and ‘The Revenant’


Icon Vs. Icon’s husband and wife team, Delores and Hank Price, Jr., are always on the lookout for a little bit of excitement. When not binge-watching films, checking in and out on the latest television series or coming up with new safe words were no longer enough, they turned their attention to an invention from simpler times — BOOKS! Check out their takes on ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Ready Player One’ below! Follow the online ramblings of the dynamic duo on Twitter at @deloresprice80 and @thehenrypricejr.

'The Revenant'
‘The Revenant’

SHE SAID: An old hoe can learn new tricks. I have been reading more. Like books without pictures. Lots of words, lots of pages. Maybe it’s because my iPhone attachment is worrisome. Maybe I’m trying to resuscitate my attention span. Maybe I’m secretly a hipster and books are my records. Whatever the case, I have been reading more. So has Hank with “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.

I recently finished Michael Crichton’s 2004 downer “State of Fear,” thanks to a recommendation from Hankie Poo. I was left critical of the media, global warming, life, the universe and everything so I went in a different direction and picked up “The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge” by Michael Punke. I haven’t seen the movie, not on purpose just never did, and briefly wondered what’s a girl to do. Read the book first? Watch the movie first? Watch the movie and not read the book? Read the book and skip the movie? Read the book while watching the movie like a lunatic?

I’m no stranger to reading the book first but wonder if it will take me out of the film, leaving me constantly comparing the changes between the two and, in turn, annoying Hank as I incessantly huff and puff about the differences.
The book is slightly non-fiction, based on disputed historical accounts of American frontiersman Hugh Glass. Its story was embellished over the years, like “The Bible” as well as Hollywood’s treatment of days gone by, aka “The Revenant” featuring Leonardo DiCaprio (Mr. Environment probably doesn’t like “State of Fear”) and Tom Hardy (Bane will blow up the environment).

When there’s a real-life component to a story, there’s an added level of interest for me. Hugh Glass was real – he has a Wikipedia page so he MUST be important. He was a fur trader and trapper, frontiersman, hunter, explorer, and bear-attack-survivor. A 19th Century bad ass. No Hank, the bear didn’t rape him. Sorry to disappoint.

Punke’s novel is a fictional-ish retelling of the bear attack along the Missouri River and Glass’s 3,000-mile quest for revenge against the men who left him for dead and robbed him of his possessions. His throat was nearly ripped out, his scalp hung loose and he had deep wounds to his back, shoulder and thigh. It’s one of those stories told over booze and through a haze of smoke in dark taverns. A story met with more awe than cockeyed disbelief. A story that makes you laugh at your pathetic, needy, incompetent life. I don’t even like camping and I don’t like bugs. Where’s an outlet so I can plug in my phone and could you please turn on the central air?

I decided to start with the book because I’d read there were some differences between the two versions of the story. How many movies are based on books? Comic books, fiction, historical non-fiction. You can take your time and tell a story, paint with words. However, some things need to be changed to fit on film to adhere to its visual limitations and running time. Have you ever seen a movie that was better than the book?

Will I see the movie? Maybe, maybe not. I think Hank wants to see it so probably. I’ll try not to compare the two but it’s inevitable I will as if the book isn’t also mostly fiction, as if I owe Punke something.

Am I a hipster? Trying to be better than movie watchers like I’m some intellectual? No. I’m just trying to be entertained. Aren’t we all?

'Ready Player One'
‘Ready Player One’

HE SAID: What’s this I hear about gardening tools and prostitutes? Anyhow, Mrs. Price managed to bribe me with enough wine and Slipknot to contribute again this week, though it didn’t come without a lot of whining and bitching on my part. As “She Said,” I finally returned to the land of the printed word (to be fair, I do read a lot for my day job as a spellchecker for “Penthouse Letters”). I picked up a book I heard about on The Borderlands Book Club podcast, “Ready Player One,” which is Ernest Cline’s 2011 debut novel.

I believe one of the reviews on the back cover describes “Ready Player One” as “The Matrix” meets “Willy Wonka.” That’s a perfect summation of the story. It takes place in a dystopian 2044, where the majority of humanity spends their days connected to a virtual world called OASIS, which was created by James Halliday, a software designer who (shocker!) made a fortune off of it. Our hero and narrator is Wade Watts, aka Parzival in the virtual world. In the OASIS, everyone is an anonymous avatar, custom-made and levelled up just like a paladin in Final Fantasy or a Lone Wanderer in Fallout.

When Halliday dies, he leaves his vast fortune and the promise of great power to be found in OASIS by a lucky winner. Just about everyone in the world goes understandably batshit trying to solve the clues Halliday left behind. “Ready Player One” follows Wade/Perzival as he chases Halliday’s fortune and glory through a myriad of challenges pulled from the 1980s pop culture in which Halliday grew up. Along the way, he will face off against a lich in the classic arcade game Joust, get puppy dog eyes for Art3emis, a fellow competitor, and fend off a greedy corporation that will stop at nothing (even … MURDER!) to ensure it wins the contest.

“Ready Player One” is an easy but compelling read for anyone who grew up with or still enjoys 1980s pop culture. For example, one of Halliday’s challenges requires competitors to play the role of Matthew Broderick in “WarGames” and get every single line of dialog correct. In fact, the concept of a virtual world in which people work, play, and go to school by hooking up to a rig is relevant given the imminent release of virtual reality platforms. It’s easy to see something like PlayStation’s VR evolving into OASIS in 28 years. If you enjoy video games, 1980s pop culture, or want to read about the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” pimped out with a “Ghostbusters” logo, then I highly recommend “Ready Player One.”

One comment I made to Mrs. Price frequently while reading this book was, “How are they going to make this into a movie?” Yes, “Ready Player One” is an upcoming motion picture, directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. It’s scheduled for an early 2018 release It was rescheduled to avoid facing off against “Star Wars – Episode VIII – The Skywalkers Who Stare at Goats” in December 2017. Obviously, there will be a TON of CGI because the majority of the book takes place in OASIS, where pretty much anything can happen. Things like Ultraman fighting Mecha Godzilla. Then again, if Hollywood bastardizes “Ready Player One” like it does most good books, it’ll probably end up with some marginally amusing Saturday Night Live actors smacking around Seth Rogen and Zac Efron.