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 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. 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.
This book is a geek fantasy. A nerd utopia. Speaking as a formerly addicted World of Warcraft player (among others), I loved it.
I believe you can tell the author’s passion from what he’s written, and it is clear from this book that Ernest Cline is a fellow gamer and geek. I salute him. His ardor for games is so clearly felt within this book. A fellow fangirl/fanboy can sniff out a fake one like a dead fish within a Bath and Body Works (ok, that may be a bad example, but you catch my drift). Ernest Cline is a real-deal fanboy. I salute you, sir.
This book is for fanboys and fangirls. There are those who don’t like it. There are those who feel that there are needless references, inserted solely for a wink and a nudge from the author to the reader. To those people, I say: SO WHAT?! I welcomed those references. It makes me feel good because I know what they are. Is there something wrong with feeling good and getting an innocent giggle out of understanding a reference?
GSS had also licensed preexisting virtual worlds from their competitors, so content that had already been created for games like Everquest and World of Warcraft was ported over to the OASIS, and copies of Norrath and Azeroth were added to the growing catalog of OASIS planets. Other virtual worlds soon followed suit, from the Metaverse to the Matrix. The Firefly universe was anchored in a sector adjacent to the Star Wars galaxy, with a detailed re-creation of the Star Trek universe in the sector adjacent to that.
IN ONE PARAGRAPH, HE REFERENCED SO MANY THINGS THAT I LOVE. How could I hate the references? I have a soul!!!!!!!! I get excited, ok? ._.
So here’s what I liked about this book:
1. I liked the main character
2. I liked the future world
3. I liked the realistic feeling of an online gaming scene
Wade is a good kid. He’s had a rough life. He’s depressed, but he never reaches martyr status.
The year after my mom died, I spent a lot of time wallowing in self-pity and despair. I tried to look on the bright side, to remind myself that, orphaned or not, I was still better off than most of the kids in Africa. And Asia. And North America, too. I’d always had a roof over my head and more than enough food to eat. And I had the OASIS. My life wasn’t so bad. At least that’s what I kept telling myself, in a vain attempt to stave off the epic loneliness I now felt.
He’s nothing special. He’s an overweight (and simultaneously malnourished) kid. He doesn’t do too well in school. He could be any of my friends who have played games.
He is a nice kid. He doesn’t blame people for circumstances that are beyond their control. It would have been the easiest thing to hate his mom for being drug-addicted, yet he doesn’t.
I never blamed my mom for the way things were. She was a victim of fate and cruel circumstance, like everyone else. Her generation had it the hardest. She’d been born into a world of plenty, then had to watch it all slowly vanish.
It’s a shitty world. People have to survive the best way they know how, sometimes those ways are self-destructive.
A lot of the problems with dystopian fiction is that they’re too drastic. Barely 100 years into the future, the world has created a new society, etc. The world in this book is set in 2044, and admittedly, it is pretty grim, but I still found it believable.
There’s been an energy crisis, there’s global warming, civilization is decline but not completely in the shithole yet. Life is crappy. I’ve always thought that life would be awful for my grandchildren, and this book pretty much tells it how I believe it could be. And god help us if Trump is elected president.
I also love Cline’s explanation of the way online gaming works, down to its community. He clearly knows his shit, from user names to avatars. There are some funny tidbits.
Students weren’t allowed to use their avatar names while they were at school. This was to prevent teachers from having to say ridiculous things like “Pimp_Grease, please pay attention!” or “BigWang69, would you stand up and give us your book report?”
But really, it’s the nostalgia of my gaming days that clinches this book for me. The online camaraderie. The late nights gaming together, the bonding that takes place over Ventrilo after defeating a difficult challenge. I got to know many friends whom I wouldn’t ordinary have talked to in the real world. It’s a bonding experience that is as much a part of the game as the game itself. Often, it’s community that truly makes the experience memorable. And yes, the online romances. This book portrays all of that, and so what if it banks on my nostalgia? I’ll take it.
Granted, it is overly long, and too detailed at times. It does lack complexity, and would be more of a middle-grade book if not for its length and content, but overall, it was a solidly good book.