Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House NY
Published: August 2011
My rating: 6/10 lightsabers
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?
Ready Player one is a love letter to 80's pop culture and science fiction and fantasy. I was born in 1990, so a lot of the references went over my head. This didn't hinder my experience of the book at all. There are also references to modern scifi shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica.
I really enjoyed the first half of this novel. It was amazing. The world Wade lives in is in shambles. His parents are dead and he lives with his low-life aunt in a trailer park. His only escape is in the OASIS hunting for Halliday's easter egg. The fun really begins when Wade discovers the location of the copper key. It is modeled after a Dungeons & Dragons module. In order to gain the copper key, he must beat the boss in a game of Joust, which is an 80's video game that has the player jousting as a knight on an ostrich. What?!? Sounds awesome. Once he gets to the first gate he has to go through an interactive movie simulation of WarGames. I thought this was so cool. Wade has to remember every line and scene from the movie and gains points for each correct line. I would love a game that allows you to act out your favorite movie!
Anyways, as I said, the first half of this book is great.
I dropped mix tapes and notes on her palace from the air, like lovesick bombs. Once, in a supreme act of desperation, I stood outside her her palace gates for two solid hours, with a boom box over my head, blasting "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel at full volume. - Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, pg. 203
After a while, the story begins to pick up again, but it is nothing like the first half. Overall, I had a great reading experience. Ready Player One is a modern Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Yes, Wade can be an annoying, irrational teenage boy. However, in the end, I am left remembering how brave his character becomes. Also, the world in the OASIS is so detailed. There are planets dedicated to every geeky realm you can imagine. In the OASIS, you can visit a planet modled after Tolken's middle earth and go on quests. This makes the geek inside of me so happy.
Yes, the OASIS has everything your geeky heart can imagine. But at what cost? Cline hints at the danger of using virtual reality to escape from the problems of the real world. At one point, a character named Morrow describes the OASIS as "a pleasant place for the world to hide from its problems while human civilization slowly collapses, primarily due to neglect"(Ready Player One, Cline, pg. 120). This is an important message for readers to remember. As technology advances, we will only have more ways to distract us from what is really important. I am guilty of using video games, the internet, and tv to escape from my less than fabulous life. At the end of the day, these things aren't important. The connections we make to other humans is what is really important.
I recommend picking this one up and giving it a read. It didn't live up to my expectations, but I still liked it. As always, thanks for reading!
Next review: Neuromancer by William Gibson