Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopia
Source: Purchased from Strand Bookstore in NYC
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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?
Holy crap, this book was a lot of fun. I’ve had this one on my TBR for so long and I’m thrilled that I finally picked it up. Ernest Cline created such a fun world that may not be as much of a fantasy as we think. As one guilty of falling into the hype of the social media age and logs way too many hours online, it was interesting to read about this grim (potential) reality.
Our main character, Wallas, was a pretty fun character to read about. He’s an overweight computer nerd that uses his love of the OASIS to get by in his less than perfect life. He lives in the stacks with his aunt, has no one, and only gets by because of his online life. Honestly, this is surprisingly relatable. So many people escape into the safety of the internet when reality gets to be too much. I also liked how the online school in this world was an actual school that avatars attend instead of just power points and videos.
If you’re sick of the 80s nostalgia hype, you’re going to HATE this book, as they are littered throughout them. I happen to love them and was laughing at all of them. The first joke of the book on the first page is my favorite Ghostbusters quote. I love it. Watching how these 80s jokes were integrating into the game was so creative and fun. Without giving anything away, 80s pop culture knowledge in most regards was tested in fairly unique ways. Several points when reading this one I was genuinely wondering if I would have been able to figure out the clue or complete the task.
I really enjoyed the social commentary in this book. Issues about corporate America, pollution, online vs. real life, and impact of technology were all discussed in a great way. I loved the premise with the IOI agents and creating them as a true threat instead of just the “corporate bad guys.” Don’t get me wrong, they totally were, but they were fleshed out a bit more.
This book also discussed the assumptions we make about people and how living 100% online can affect that. This is kind of a baby spoiler, but one character talked about how disguising their gender and/or race was something they did to get more opportunities and respect that may have not been available to them if they went with their true identity. This can raise an interesting question about gender and race if we were to live in a completely online world.
I did knock off half a star because of some of the dated language and themes. There was a point where Wallace was trying to get more info about a girl that he had a crush on. He asks her several times if she’s “actually a girl” and confirms that she “hasn’t had a sex change.” This book did come out in 2011 and we were not at our current level of acceptance of those with different gender identities, but reading this exchange really didn’t hold up. I (kind of) see what Cline was trying to accomplish with this, but I did want to address it just in case this was something you might be sensitive to. Fortunately, this exchange only happened once and did not overshadow the story.
Since the movie is coming out soon, I’m not going to include a spoiler corner on this one. I do plan on doing a full book-to-screen review for this one in March, so I’ll go into more of my spoilery thoughts then! If you want to go into the movie entirely spoiler free, I urge you to NOT look at the IMDB cast. One of the “big reveals” for a character is spoiled in that cast list.
This book was honestly a nerd’s dream come true. The amount of video game references and 80’s pop culture woven through this story was just great. I was on the edge of my seat for most of this book and I highly recommend it. If you’re a fan of sci-fi and dystopian books, I think you’ll really enjoy this one. This was one of the most unique books I’ve ever read and I cannot rave about it enough. I did listen to the audiobook for a good portion of this one, and I highly recommend it. Will Wheaton does the narration and it’s perfect for the book.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ – 4.5/5
Have you read this book yet? What did you think?