Name: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Number of Pages: 386 (Paperback)
Published: January 30th 2018 by Broadway Books (Orig. published 2011)
Genre: Science Fiction
In the year 2045, 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.
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. – from Goodreads
I meant to read Ready Player One a while ago, way before I knew anything about the new film, but at the last minute something always seemed to hold me back. Would it be a little too different/sci-fi/technical? I have little to no experience of videogames. I kept putting it off and the book never got read.
Then I saw the trailer for the new movie.
I knew it was something I would want to see, and decided the time had finally come to pick up the book before I saw the movie.
And I enjoyed it.
Admittedly many of the references were lost on me. A walk-through of WarGames? No idea. If they’d gone through Back to the Future I may have been far more carried along. I like a good bit of 80s, but apparently not so much the things that were heavily referenced here. There was still a lot I did enjoy, and I do find the idea of old favourites becoming (virtual) reality very very cool, as was the whole OASIS.
It was quite amazing how real the world of the OASIS felt; I found myself at various points thinking ‘wow, Wade’s actually just sitting in a van/room, in real life, yet this vast other-world is there for the taking.’
If the OASIS was real I imagine it would be great fun, but dangerously addictive. You can design your look, visit any fictional world you’ve ever dreamed of, take on quests and tackle monsters, and if you die in the game, you just create a new avatar, go back to being level one and start all over again. Epic battles and quests, all whilst facing no real danger. Sounds good.
Inside the OASIS an epic quest is taking place. It’s creator, James Halliday, has died and left his entire simulation/fortune to the first player to find three keys and locate an Easter egg.
There are individuals, clans, and an evil corporation determined to solve the puzzles, the latter wanting to gain total control and dominance over the OASIS, which totally defies the spirit of Halliday and the game he constructed.
In the real world, everything is pretty much falling apart. Resources are depleted, people are forced to live in Stacks, trailers stacked 20 or more high and linked with frameworks, and there’s little opportunity available.
As the stakes within the OASIS raise, so too do people in the real world find their very lives threatened by those fixated on winning the virtual quest.
There’s a group of gunters (egg hunters) at the heart of the quest who become known as the High Five when they top the scoreboard after finding the first key. Each of these has their online avatar which of course may be nothing at all like their real life identity so when the group finally have the opportunity to meet in real life there may be a few surprises in store.
Within this group is Wade, our lead character, who goes by Parzival in the OASIS, his best (online) friend Aech, and his long-time crush Art3mis, and I was really looking forward to the moment when these three would collide in the real world, having endured so much as both allies and competitors in the virtual world.
Ready Player One is an enjoyable, immersive read with a giant puzzle, real danger, epic battles and so much nostalgia. I did feel at times a little overwhelmed by the detail provided in these scenes, and the technical descriptions of equipment and the like was wasted on me, which was probably one of the reasons that it took me so long to give this book a try in the first place, but I found myself swept along on the quest anyway, and I was rooting for Parzival, Aech and Art3mis to triumph over the sinister IOI corporation and find the Easter egg in time to save the OASIS.