Ready Player One
Written by Ernest Cline
Published 2011 by Random House NY
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
This book was a thrill to read! It’s a nostalgic blast from the past for anyone who grew up in the 80’s or had parents that impressed 80’s culture upon you *raises hand*.
You didn’t have to grow up in the 80’s to enjoy this book though. For any fans of futuristic novels – science fiction and dystopic novels alike, this book has appeal to all nerds, geeks, and totally normal people. Cline explores a future not too different from today, except food is even more scarce and the environment is even more screwed up. Oh, and there’s this virtual reality that has entranced most of the globe’s population.
Before you turn away, know this book isn’t a campaign for sustainability and lack of human integrity or anything. While Cline does make small remarks to the poor health and uncleanliness of some of the OASIS users, this is foremost a tale of a heroic gamer. Wade Watts or Parzival as he goes by in the massive online game doesn’t have much of a life on Earth, but in the Oasis he can educate himself and socialize with new people. It is a haven. But with all good things, someone wants to monopolize it and essentially destroy its worth. That’s why the competition for a billionaire’s fortune could mean salvation for so many like Wade. And the only way to win is by knowing the game.
I really enjoyed this book as a light, comic read. It’s a classic hero on quest tale, root for the underdog, that kind of thing. You’ll have a blast following Wade and his friends Aech and Art3mis on their journey through the Oasis and deciphering some cryptic 80’s trivia.
The best part is when the story becomes a mix between real life danger and virtual. There were moments in the story that I forgot were taking place on Earth and not on some planet within the Oasis. Wade’s mission to find the video game’s egg will go as far as putting his own life on the line. With billions of dollars at stake, there’s a high cost to this hunt. And to add on top of the dangers of the egg hunt, Wade seems to have fallen in love with one of his fellow gunters (that’s what they called the gamers who were hunting for the egg). It’s an emotional thrill ride.
Perhaps my favorite part was when the characters are revealed in their real life. Even as a reader its easy to imagine virtual relations in a certain way. Everyone in the Oasis has an avatar, but that doesn’t mean that’s what they actually look like. It certainly levels the playing field. What Cline does with this understanding was the best part and satisfying for the conclusion of the novel.
I really enjoyed this book and I think it would be a fun read for all ages. Although some of the details from the 80’s pop culture can become overwhelming. It wouldn’t hurt to have Youtube and Google readily available if you’re not familiar with all of the references. The one dislike I have for this story was the predictability. It was difficult to be completely satisfied with the ending because I was already prepared for it. Of course I wanted that ending. I loved it. But I thought it was missing something. For that reason only I deduct one star. Overall, I thought Ready Player One was a refreshing read and I would read it again in a heartbeat.
I give Ready Player One by Ernest Cline a 4 out of 5 stars.