Review: Ready Player One

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown on August 16, 2011
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 374
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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?

One of the main themes of the book, yet again unsurprisingly, is the question of whether life in the OASIS is really living. Cline seems to come down on both sides of the fence there, believing that real connections can be made mentally, stronger than those in the normal world even because the physical part does not get in the way. Still, he frequently has Wade comment on the fact that no one leaves their houses and really interacts with the world anymore, which seems to be seen as a bad thing. Certainly, in a perfect (or even halfway decent world) I do think people should not spend all of their time in an alternate reality; that’s not healthy.

However, people really need an escape, because the Earth has pretty much been destroyed. Enter dystopian aspects of the story here. The world sucks. Most people, in America at least, live in trailers. And since they ran out of space for the trailers, they started stacking them in precarious towers. Pretty much everyone’s poor, unless they’ve sold their souls to an evil conglomeration like IOI or were lucky enough to invent something like OASIS. If you are lucky enough to earn some money, you are likely to have it stolen from you by the many predators hanging around the trailers. No wonder people want to live somewhere else; in fact, if Wade gets the money, he wants to build a spaceship and get the hell out of Dodge.

Still, even without everything being a shitstorm outside the aptly named OASIS, I know anyone with a nerdy bone in their body would at least want to be there for a while, because there are planets and planes from every sci fi franchise under the sun. Try to tell me you don’t want to ride on the Serenity or visit the planets from Star Wars (with the possible exceptions of Dagobah or Hoth or, well, maybe most of them actually, but I would like to check out the Death Star and Endor)! The fact that people do become obsessed with their alternate realities is no surprise though. Certainly I know a few people who would be all over that, doing quests, visiting the worlds of their favorite games, gunting…they’d never want to leave. Plus, I know I would have loved the chance to miss all of middle school and probably high school too for this online version. Not only would it save me from having to be lonely during my awkward teen years, but it also sounds super freaking cool. I mean, for history class, they can be part of a simulation in which the event they’re studying takes place; I bet science was like being a kid in Ms. Frizzle’s class! Who wouldn’t want to learn that way?

Even better, the whole story is completely chock full of nerdy references, mostly from the 80s, but some more modern things too. This gave me a number of opportunities to nerd out. Ernest Cline clearly loves science fiction, anime, fantasy, as well as family comedies like Family Ties. He also loves Ladyhawke, which there is a debate about the book. I must share my opinion on this matter, which is that it is freaking awesome, especially the soundtrack. Plus, Matthew Broderick was such a sweetie pie when he was little.

So yeah, all nerds, science fictions lovers, dystopia enthusiasts, and video gamers who like to read will definitely want to add this one to the to read list. Personally, I hope to see more equally nerdy fiction from Cline in the future!


One response to “Review: Ready Player One”

  1. Callie Vamp says:

    I LOVED this book and I am looking forward to read it again!

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