Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Read: July 7 – July 19, 2012
Other Information: Library book, hardcover, 372 pages, book club selection
Book Blurb: (from Goodreads) 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?
My Opinion: I am going to come right out and say it. I loved this book. It intrigued me the first time it was nominated for book club, but I didn’t vote for it because the wait list was so long from the library. I am glad I got to read it this time around.
I think I should preface this review a little bit. I am a gamer. An avid gamer. While I am a child of the 90’s, and thus don’t get a lot of the references to the games and things in the book, the whole idea of the book… the OASIS, the easter egg hunt, it all was very appealing to me. If you are not either a child of the 80’s (or a fan of the 80’s, I guess) or a gaming nerd, you will probably not get much enjoyment out of this book. Fair warning.
The 80’s references get a little heavy-handed at times. They mellow out near the end, which is good. But sometimes I felt like it was erring on the side of “Oh my gosh, that tree looks like something I saw in this movie from the 80’s!”. Seeing as I am NOT a child of the 80’s, I didn’t know ANY of the references. But I enjoyed the ride, for the most part.
Wade has a bit of a Mary Sue thing going on. He seems to always have exactly what he needs and know exactly what needs to be done. Some of the things were really cool, but it got really old at times too. His hacker skills always seemed to be up to par, he knew exactly where to look for certain information, etc. I also felt like his reactions were a little inconsistent. But I was still rooting for him. I liked the cast of characters, and I think in the end Aech and Shoto might have been my favorites, even though they didn’t get the spotlight much.
The world-building was really enjoyable. Cline paints a formidable and not-too-far-off picture with his “energy crisis”. Though I was a little angry with the gamer stereotype he seemed to apply liberally. The fact that people used the OASIS to get away from their lives, that they were closeted in dark rooms, isolating themselves from the world. Gamers today aren’t like that, and I think that books like this help perpetuate the stereotype. OK, not ALL gamers today are like that. IOI is a great antagonist. And I think I actually said, out loud, “AWESOME” when they mentioned World of Warcraft in the book. Full immersion WoW. Can you imagine? I CAN!
Bottom Line: Really enjoyable book. Probably not so much if you aren’t interested in gaming or the 80’s. Even better if you like both.