REVIEW – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a book of the tomorrow which dreams of a better world by escaping into the past.

In the future, the world is not a pleasant place.  Overpopulation and lack of resources have made it a squalor and like many people, Wade Watts escapes his miserable life by logging into the OASIS – a virtual reality environment of unprecedented scale and utopia. When the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, passes away, his will stipulates that his entire fortune and control of OASIS goes to whomever can find three keys and three gates.  Anyone can play and there are no rules.

The will sets off a worldwide frenzy. As a gunter (short for egg hunter, as in Easter Egg), Wade is sucked into the game, hoping to uncover the clues.  He is a master of Halliday’s life and all that he loved – the pop culture, Dungeons and Dragons, movies, music, etc.  Every bit of it is scoured in an effort to find the keys and get atop the Scoreboard which is dominated by Halliday’s name.

Then Wade stumbles across the first key.  He is thrown to the top of the scoreboard and the real game begins.  Wade is pitted against nearly the entire world, including his fellow gunters and a corporation that wants to win the game and take control of the OASIS.  He soon finds out that no one is who they seem and some are willing to use any means necessary to win.

Author Ernest Cline has packed Ready Player One to the gills with bits of obscure trivia that will cause an 80s geek to go into nostalgia overload.  As I was reading along, I found myself reciting lines from War Games, remembering games that I hadn’t played in two decades, and other random memories that brought a smile to my face.  (My wife commented at one point, “I’ve never seen you so hooked on a book”).  I can’t deny it.  When I was growing up a geek in the 80s, *this* is what I wanted.  Cline’s brought it to reality.

Ready Player One seamlessly crosses genres, blending the virtual world with the real world Wade has to ultimately face.  As a character, Wade isn’t perfect.  He’s a teenager and his faults are obvious, but he struggles against them like we all do.  A few of the other characters are cardboard cutouts (especially the villains) but in someway, that makes sense.  After all, that’s how it was in the 80s, wasn’t it?

Those who missed out on the experiences of the 1980s might find Ready Player One a confusing read.  That’s understandable, given that the entire plot hinges on the pop culture of the decade.  For those of us who did live through that time?  Well, then Ready Player One is simply rad.

As an added bonus, Cline released a soundtrack to accompany the novel (Spotify, YouTube, Playlist).

Author Site: Ernest Cline

Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound,

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