Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Arrow Books on April 5 2012
Genres: Science fiction, fiction, dystopia
It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.
Ready Player One is a novel with an undoubtedly incredible premise, a scavenger hunt through virtual reality in epic proportions. An entertaining science fiction novel that is a must-read for video game geeks and lovers of the 80’s.
The book had a relatively slow start, with a great quantity of foundation work and heavy explanations. This picks up around the 80-page mark where things suddenly get moving exponentially. Cline’s descriptive writing gave a real sense of the world and the intricacies of the OASIS virtual reality, however, at times I found him to be droning on. The novel was quite sporadic, extreme action packed scenes punctuated with bouts of lengthy descriptions. Nevertheless, the book certainly held my attention, and at times I found it unputdownable! The virtual reality that Cline conceived was undeniably elaborate, I found it astounding how he formulated the OASIS and the labyrinthine scavenger hunt, it seemed that every minute detail was considered meticulously.
The characters present in Ready Player One were equally as complex and Cline possessed the ability to bring them to life between the pages. The characters were from all walks of life, with different nationalities and upbringings. Wade was brought up by his aunt and lacked deep emotional connections with people in the real world, thus why he (like most people) turned to the OASIS, where he found solace with other avatars. I adored Wade’s persistence and intense passion for the hunt and everything 80’s, even though he got sidetracked for a while when he met Art3mis. My favourite character had to be Art3mis, she was feisty and fierce, yet she also had a tender vulnerable side to her. She was equally as determined to win the hunt as Wade, thus the two made an ultimate partnership. Aech, Shoto and Daito were incredible sidekicks and when all five of them teamed up together, they made a mad crew. The teamwork and respect they had toward one another was endearing. There was plenty of diversity present within this book with a Canadian character, a gay African-American character and Japanese characters. Not to mention the flaws that each character had, which added to the authenticity of the novel.
The plot was action-packed and intense, despite knowing the end outcome, it was still thrilling and there were some twists and turns that were unsuspected. The scavenger hunt became intense and some characters went to absurd lengths to obtain Halliday’s egg. Eventually, the scavenger became deadly and ultimately real life threatening. It took a turn for the worst which I was definitely not expecting!
Overall, Ready Player One is a story like non-other with its elaborate virtual reality world, dynamic characters, intense action-packed scenes and an epic scavenger hunt.