Book Cover
Title Ready Player One
Series ---
Author Ernest Cline
Cover Art Jim Massey
Publisher Penguin - 2015
First Printing 2011
Category Science Fiction
Warnings None

Main Characters

Wade Watts, Art3mis, Aech, Shoto
Main Elements Virtual Worlds

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he is jacked into the virtual utopia know as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the 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.

Do you love 80's pop culture? The video games, the movies, even the music? Then you'll love this book. But even if you don't remember much about the 80's (I was too young to be aware of many of the references in the book, though I lived through the decade) then do you like puzzles, fast action, a snarky narrator all wrapped up in future world so poluted and overcrowded that people are living in stacked trailers and trying to hide from it all in a virtual world? Then you'll like this too. However it seems to be one of those books that people either love or hate, I was one of those that loved it.

Ignoring the 80's aspect, even though it was key and I really enjoyed that too, Wade is a fun character to spend time inside his head. Overweight and acne prone but very smart, he basically lives inside the virtual world OASIS as Parzival, even attending a virtual school. This complete immersion into a fantasy world is both intriguing and disturbing (to the point where Wade manages to have absolutely no real world interactions, even his food deliveries are made without human contact). But then it's understandable, we ruined the planet so badly the world isn't really a place one wants to be. Corporations take over, and if you owe them a debt you can't pay back they can claim you as slave labour until you pay off what you owe (except of course, with fees and other expenses you'll never succeed to keep up with the interest). Plus Wade doesn't exactly have a happy home life.

At times one needs a bit of suspension of belief, that Wade is the first person to figure out the clue and get the first key and then continue to keep up till the end at ever increasing pace (you'd think it would actually get harder). He also infiltrates one of the corporations and pulls a fast one on them, and of course all this takes place in the period of about 6 years. Even if you did nothing all day but watch 80's movies, read the books, play all the games to become expert in them, there are not enough hours in those 6 years to memorize everything that came out during a whole decade. All the commercials, the biographies, the world might only be 10 years worth of stuff, but lots of that stuff was happening all at the same time, so it would take significantly more than a decade to relive all of it personally.

But, ignoring that, I really loved the world of OASIS, was tempting to log in along with them, it sounded like a lot of fun. And the action just keeps going, even when Wade is stumped for several months at a time his internal dialog never fails to entertain. I mean you get random stuff like "I watched a lot of YouTube videos of cute geeky girls playing 80's cover tunes on ukuleles. Technically this wasn't part of my research, but I had a serious cute-geeky-girls-playing-ukuleles fetish that I can neither explain nor defend."

It has many serious themes, the dystopia that the world becomes, the dangers of profit hungry corporations taking over, the addiction to virtual worlds, and also getting to know someone for who they are instead of judging them by what they look like (though ultimately, you're still going to judge their avatar, so not sure virtual worlds resolve that problem really...). After all Art3mis, Wade's love interest could have turned out to be some fat middle-aged guy named Chuck living in his mom's basement :)

Anyway, I went in thinking I was going to get a kick out a couple 80's references, instead I got a really fun read.

Posted: November 2017


Background, images and content (unless otherwise noted) are SunBlind
Do not use without permission.