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