Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines – puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win – and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a fantastic novel written for nerds, geeks, and the so-called outcasts of society. It is wish-fulfillment to the highest degree for any fan of 1980’s pop culture, whether it’s video games, movies, music, or the era as a whole. Science-Fiction and Fantasy come together for a thrilling ride bringing everything geeks love with it, whether it’s Tardis shaped teleporters or a vehicle that combines all the best features of a DeLorean, the Ecto-1, and Knight Rider.
The plot of the novel follows our young hero Wade Watts as he immerses himself in the world of the Oasis, a virtual reality world with features similar to a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, or MMORPG, that everyone on the planet is hooked into at one point or another. In-game currency is usable as legal tender, Oasis ports are a staple of most hotels and internet-cafe’ shops, and all manner of business is conducted inside the virtual world.
The inventor of the Oasis, James Halliday – the richest man on the planet, has died, leaving his vast fortune to the one lucky player who is able to solve his series of riddles and discover the hidden easter-egg within the virtual reality world. No one has been able to solve the mystery, let alone begin the hunt for real. That is until Wade Watts solves the first clue. What follows is a fast-paced race through both the virtual and real world as Wade Watts joins forces with his fellow Gunters – egg hunters – as they are attacked by agents of the Innovative Online Systems a multinational corporation that provides internet access to much of the world and are seeking control of the Oasis to fill it with advertisements and local restrictions to net a bigger profit.
There is a lot that can be said for Ready Player One namely that it’s FUN. It’s a book that is hard to put down for the sheer enjoyment that comes from reading each page and discovering the allusions and references to geek culture. It’s a treasure trove of nods to fans for nearly every genre and medium.
Ernest Cline does a wonderful job of making the reader feel a part of the video game world. Something that is deceptively difficult when you give it some thought, the ability to portray a person activating a virtual reality set and then engaging in a fictional world without it coming off as corny or stylized.
This is a book that I could rave with my friends about for hours into the night. And it’s a book that I wholeheartedly believe everyone should pick up and enjoy. It’s a fantastic science-fiction/dystopian/fantasy novel that can be enjoyed by practically everyone.