Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernst Cline

021915_ReadyPlayerOne_CoverEdition: E-Book
Published: Cornerstone Digital (18 Aug. 2011)
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 3.5 feathers

“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.”

Ready Player One is set in a futuristic 2044 where members of society are dependent on a virtual online world called the OASIS. Users create avatars to be whoever they want to be and live in this virtual world where they can go to school online, meet other avatars and hang out online. The creator of OASIS is called James Halliday who died and left a video message for the world to see. He set a challenge in the OASIS to whoever is able to discover the hidden Easter Egg would in turn, be awarded his entire fortune.

The main character is eighteen-year-old Wade Watts, a fellow ‘gunter’ – a term which basically means an Egg Hunter. For five years, users have struggled to decode the clues that would lead them to the egg. Until, one day Wade uncovers the first puzzle and then other users competitively join in the hunt, where the competition gets underway, including the threats of villains, the IOI (Innovative Online Industries), a multinational corporation who want the prize to control OASIS. Wade realizes he isn’t just playing to win the prize, but also playing for his life.

The theme of the OASIS is based on Halliday’s obsession with 80s pop culture, from videogames, music, TV shows to movies. It is a very unique concept to incorporate the 80s references within a virtual online world. So basically, the more you know about the 80s pop culture, the farther you will thrive into the competition. I consider myself as more of a 90s girl, even though I was born in the last year of the 80s. My earliest memory of playing videogames was when I was 13 and playing my brother’s Game Boy. I got so obsessed with playing Super Mario Bros and to this day, it still has a special place in my heart, I still love that game! It was good stuff.

Props to Ernst Cline, this is probably one of the most creative and imaginative books I have ever read (so far). The last creative book I read was probably Harry Potter, which goes to show that I have not read many creative books unfortunately. I really like the effort and thought that went into writing Read Player One because it was extremely well done. The world building is very interesting and I did enjoy the writing style, however for the first few chapters there was a lot of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing,’ which can be a drag to get through. I don’t like info dumps because it slows the story down, but then again, it was interesting to read more about the OASIS, how James Halliday become a videogame designer and why people are so dependent on this virtual world. Basically, the world becomes a depressing place and people use the OASIS as an escape from reality. However, once the info dumps are out of the way, the story gets back to ‘showing.’

I thought the characters were alright. I didn’t feel any attachment to them, mainly because I was getting into the game following Wade’s journey to finding the keys, along with other characters that Wade cross paths with such as Art3mis (Wade’s biggest crush), Aceh and Daito. In the beginning of reading, I forgot that this isn’t reality and that I was meant to visualise an online world (like the Sims). But for some reason, I was visualising a cheap pixelated videogame, rather than a state-of-the-art Sims-esque videogame.

“Going outside is highly overrated.” – Anorak’s Almanac, Chapter 17, Verse 32.

Whilst reading, I just kept reiterating myself the fact that all these characters are sitting behind a computer playing a virtual game and it kind of shows that they have become anti-social. The mystery is that no one know what their friend’s avatars look like. And when Aceh was revealed to who he really is, it was priceless and I did not see that one coming!

Overall apart from the info dumps, I did like the story, I thought it was very well written and the concept is very unique. For those of you who are into videogames (but not necessary if you’re not into videogames) and fanatic of 80s pop culture then you should definitely read this. I only rated it a 3.5 stars purely because of personal taste. I liked it but I didn’t love it.

The moral of the story is reality sucks and videogames are better, but the truth is reality is real. Don’t spend all your time playing videogames. I think that was a very important message in the story. I thought the ending was a very good conclusion to this stand-alone novel. I’m glad that its not a series because sometimes all you need is just one great book to tell the story.

Okay, so a hell of a lot of books are turning into films, but I read an article that Steven Spielberg will be directing Ready Player One, which sounds amazing news because he’s such an amazing Director. I’m looking forward to when this film adaption is released because I’m sure it will be visually fantastic.


Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernst Cline

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