Book Review – ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline

It’s like television, an arcade, and the internet were mashed together – and you get to live there!

Ready Player One Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 372

From Goodreads:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

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I had so much fun reading this book – the 80’s pop culture references, the inclusion of snippets around the origin of gaming… and a little exploration of social injustice. It turned out to be way more adventurous and inciteful than I was expecting.

Ready Player One’ was also more violent than I was expecting. Which was a good thing for the story. It really put some high stakes on the line. I was totally wrapped up in this futuristic universe.

One thing with all the pop culture references – not everyone is going to get them all, or understand the lengthy list of computer models and old model gaming consoles. So, while I appreciated the nostalgia of the references, at times I felt out of the loop, not geeky enough to fully understand the narrative. It made me sad, like my nerd status had been revoked. These moments that pulled me from immersion of ‘Ready Player One’ did not detract from my enjoyment of the story however, just moments of brow furrowing and googling for information. So if you don’t have an extensive knowledge of 80’s culture and gaming, you may find the endless list of name dropping tedious.

I marvelled at the growth and development of our protagonist Wade/Percival. His dedication, loyalty, and commitment grew organically through the length of the novel. Even though those traits were there to begin with, you see them move centre stage and become his driving force. It’s what had me relating and investing in his story. So too was his romance with Art3mis. We all want the geek to get the girl… even though it felt a little disconnected with the story, not entirely needed, I loved the inclusion and how it helped to humanise Wade and give him a connection to the outside world. The Oasis virtual reality had just about swallowed him up and she was the next adventure after he was to find a way through his online quest.

Ready Player One Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The pacing was great – I think most of the book was a page turner for me. Some moments where Cline started prattling off specifics, or info-dumped a bit of history, or backstory, killed the momentum, but on the whole it’s the most engaged I’ve been in a while. I didn’t have a lot of free time to read, but when I did it was very easy to slip back in to. There was no confusion about who was who, or where the story was going. It was pure entertainment.

I enjoyed the subtext of ‘avatar perception vs real life’ – a comment on the possibilities of where we could be headed and how thing like ‘catfishing’ is happening more regularly.

The plot is fairly simple – it reads like a quest for a video game – and it’s intentional, so in that sense it’s fairly predictable. Though I found a lot of sub-plots and roadblocks delightfully surprising and entertaining. I’m looking forward to the film interpretation masted by Steven Spielberg, with Tye Sheridan playing Wade, slated for a March 30, 2018 release. *squee*

Highly recommend. Cline paints a colourfully graphic world, addressing issues we are facing now as we grow with technology, and with all the pop culture references, it’s like nerd porn.

Overall feeling: It’s like my brain exploded from all the references to childhood favourites.

Ready Player One Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Ready Player One Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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