Ready Player One

December 31, 2015
Ready Player One Book Cover Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Gamer Fiction
Random House NY
August 16th, 2011
Hardback
372
Library

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.

(via Goodreads)

 

This book hooked me on the first page when one of my favorite Ghostbusters quotes appeared:Ghostbusters

“Cats and dogs living together… mass hysteria!” – Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters

 

At that moment, I knew this was a book for me. I was immediately addicted and thought about canceling long-standing plans so I could stay at home and read this book. Thank you for that, Ernest Cline.

There is a synopsis of this book above from Goodreads, but I don’t feel like it’s complete. The plot is difficult to gather in a few sentences, but I’ll try to add what I can: A Gates/Wozniak duo create an alternative reality, OASIS, which the world can use for free to ignore all the problems around them (such as rampant poverty, disease, drug addiction, the energy crisis, etc.). The Gates-type, Holliday, dies. His will is a video game style quest for his easter egg held in OASIS where gunters (easter egg hunters) have to completely immerse themselves in Holliday’s addiction with 1980s geek culture. The winner gets 240 billion, immortality in OASIS, and ownership of the company. Questing ensues. As Wade, aka Parzival, tells us in the opening chapter:

“Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.”

Ready Player One doesn’t feel that complicated when I’m reading it. I love the diversity of the characters. There are some troupes, for sure, but that is one of the hallmarks of great YA literature. Yes, there is an evil corporation out for it all. But I don’t think it impedes the plot. I also love that the book starts out with Wade identifying that the Media (capital M) has been getting his story wrong, so it’s his turn to tell it. This immediately lets the reader know that he won, but the structure of the story and Wade’s relationship with the other characters has us doubting at times. I think that’s brilliant.

The 80s references were spot on. Cline surely did his research! He had lots of common references (Star Wars, Rush, Pac Man, Dungeons and Dragons, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,etc.) which most people, even those who NESdidn’t personally experience the 80s, are familiar with. Cline also includes lots of obscure references. I recognized many of them, but not all. And when I did my digging I found that they were impeccable. Eventually, the 80’s-ness was so common I am sure I glossed over a few of the more subtle references. I liked that. It didn’t feel like LOVE THE 80S I LOVE THE 80S YOU MUST LOVE THEM to the reader. It did to the characters, but the gunters we shared the story with also found they loved them. It was nice.

There were a few things that made this book 4 stars, instead of 5 for me. First was the endless techno-jabber. I love World Building. However, this novel had two worlds: The Real World and OASIS. OASIS world-building was fun to me, but Real World techno-jabber building was boring. I’m sure there is a group of people who loved it, but I don’t fit in that category. It came up intermittently at the beginning of the novel, but once Wade got some new and more awesome equipment, we ran into a few pages of this. I lost interest, for sure.

The other was the ending.  I was frustrated at how quickly it ended and everything got wrapped up in a neat little bow. As soon as Wade entered Halliday’s office in OASIS Wade immediately knew what to do and how to win. Plus, his arch-nemesis, Sorrento, was also somewhere in the same easter egg trying to win, and we don’t know how far he got. Did Sorrento make it to Halliday’s office? Did Sorrento know what to do? How did Wade beat the clock there? Then, when Wade got out of OASIS, he was just the winner. BAM. That’s it. Lawyers were waiting for him, the media was at his heels, and he won the girl. It just… I wanted more. I didn’t necessarily need more story, but I needed a stronger conclusion.  That said, it didn’t lessen my overall enjoyment of the novel.

“That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”

All in all, a well-written addicting read. I recommend this to anyone who loves the 80s, who loves geek culture, or who is interested in the future of video games and alternate reality.

4 stars

8 Comments

  • M @ A Blog Of One's Own September 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Great review! I’ll have to come back after I read it and check out the blurred parts and then I’m gonna tell you if I feel the same way 😀 🙂

    • Jackie B September 27, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Haha. I find that often the most moving parts of books I want to discuss are the spoilers. I can’t wait to hear your opinions!

  • theorangutanlibrarian August 29, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I loved the cast of characters- that was one of the coolest things- they felt so lifelike and realistic and loved how they came from so many different backgrounds- it reminded me how good the internet is for bringing all kinds of people together 😀 hehehe yes there were *LOADS* of references- some I got, some I didn’t. But I didn’t mind- I liked how it added to the vibe either way. Yeah I couldn’t make head or tail of the techno-jabber (love that term!) it’s not my thing- so it went over my head at times and at others I found it distracting- which is always my problem with a lot of sci fi. I liked the ending- but I get what you mean. Loved your review- so thorough!!

    • Jackie B August 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Thank you so much! This book really connected with me, obviously. 😉 I totally agree that the characters are diverse– but in a way which doesn’t feel forced. Sometimes, particularly lately, I’ve been feeling that we’ve got a lot of token diversity because it’s “in”. Oops.

      • theorangutanlibrarian August 29, 2017 at 9:26 pm

        You’re welcome! Yes!! Exactly!! I’ve seen that a lot too- I worry some people are doing it as a fashion statement too.

        • Jackie B August 30, 2017 at 11:57 am

          Ugh. That’s a terrible idea! As a “fashion statement”? Write what you know, people! Seriously.

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