Title // Ready Player One
Author // Ernst Cline
Publication Date // August 2011
Publisher // Arrow Books
Genre // Science-Fiction
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.
Ready Player One is a nostalgic trip through 80’s pop culture set in a bleak future where the entire population spends most of their day connected to OASIS, a virtual utopia where they can live out their lives without having to leave their homes.
While I found the book to be quite dense at the beginning, as Ernst Cline builds his bleak and unfriendly landscape alongside his perfect, utopian virtual reality, it’s an interesting density that drew me in and made me want to keep turning the page. There’s a lot of detail that’s gone into pulling this book together, from the fabulous 80’s pop culture references that harken back to my own childhood, to gamer references which (while I’m not a gamer myself) are familiar enough to me through my own experiences with friends who are.
There’s a real sense of purpose, too, as Wade Watts seeks to find the clues that will lead him to the easter egg left behind by OASIS’ creator, and I experienced the highs – and the lows – as he succeeded and failed. I loved the friendships that were built entirely in ‘cyberspace’ only for the individuals to finally come face-to-face with one another and realise that their preconceived notions (based on avatars) were not always accurate. These characters needed to learn to negotiate, trust and accept friendship and help at various points, even when they’re not used to having allies.
This book was a curl-up-and-read-and-remember experience that I truly enjoyed (although I hope our future does not end up quite like the one in the story in 2044). I gave Ready Player One 5 out of 5 stars.