Mini Book Review: Player One

Player One by Douglas Coupland

In a lot of ways, it seems like I've read this book before. There's an end-of-the-world scenario and a bunch of people stuck in the middle of it. There's a lot of talk about god and even someone speaking to us from the dead.

In other words, this book reads a lot like Girlfriend in a Coma by the same author.

It's a more intimate scenario this time, with the protagonists stuck in a hotel lobby from the time the catastrophe unfolds. What exactly is happening outside is not clear; something about the oil price suddenly and inexplicably skyrocketing and then there are unexplained explosions which prevent people from going outside. The story also unfolds in just five hours, so it's not a decades-long story arc as in "Girlfriend".

Still, a lot of it feels like the same story being retold and only providing a background for the people in the story to think and talk about what went wrong in their lives, about their hopes and fears, and yes, about god.

I liked Girlfriend in a Coma right up until the last chapter, when the end of the world was suddenly reversed. There's a little of that in Player One, too, but I stopped caring about the characters much earlier and only really wanted to know how the story ends (this is why storytelling works, btw), so that I could toss the book aside. The only character I did care about, to a certain extent, was Rachel, who's a sort of extreme case of the now-standard autistic character in many stories. Her development in the latter half of the story left me somewhat disappointed, though.

Verdict: Go read Girlfriend in a Coma instead. At least the story was new back then.

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