Ready Player One by Erenst Cline
Set in the future where the world has essentially gone to crap, people spend most of their time in a virtual reality world called Oasis – chock full of pretty much every form of entertainment, ways to spend money, educate, work, and essentially live (minus actual eating & drinking for sustenance) . When the creator of Oasis dies without an heir, his will, in a form of a YouTube video, announces that he has placed three Easter Eggs (hidden keys) and that the first player to complete all three will inherit his shares of the company and his fortune. Five years later, no one has even found the first Egg, and only avid gunters (egg hunters) like our hero Wade are still searching.
Ready Player One is the biggest nerdgasm I have ever experienced!
There was a time in my life where I spent a lot of time playing video games. As a kid I grew up on Gameboys, Playstations, computer games, and X-box. As someone born in the 80’s I consider myself a secondary 80’s kid, as a lot of the stuff that came out then was still prominently popular in the 90’s, or at least re-done. As kids do these days with 90’s reincarnation, thus my age group did to the 80’s. So when I say that this book was totally relatable, I mean. This. Book. Was. Totally. Relatable. At least, to me that is. Now, if you don’t know a thing about video games, 80’s movies/music or a variety of other “geeky” things such as any major sci-fi movie/tv series (Star Trek/Wars, Firefly, etc) or Japanese hero shows/anime, then you definitely would not really know 99% of the references stated in this book. With that being said, I still think this book might be enjoyable to you, except you might have to google a music video or even take a break to watch a movie here and there. Which, they are “classics” for a reason, so educate yourself.
The World Building
Thankfully there is a pretense as to why we spend almost an entire book in a digital world manifested of…made up worlds. Cline gives us a futuristic scenario that is pretty plausible and slightly daunting. The true magic is how he ties in all the different “geeky” aspects. Even though we have key elements from multiple eras in gaming to different countries, we have a world that literally has multiple worlds incorporated into it. Even though most of the elements are borrowed, I still feel like my mind was brought into a whole new experience that cohesively brought all these wonderful elements together. The real kicker is how to make it more than just a game and more than just a nod to cult classics.
Aside from the epic amount of references throughout the book that is like reminiscence bound into a book, the characters and their interactions are what really drive the story. The crazy thing about this is that since most of the book takes place in a game, we don’t really know who Wade meets. Wade is our classic underdog, but the sidekicks of the story are really strangers. Just people that he has spent a third of his life interacting in non-real-life scenarios. But because Oasis is basically what Wade’s life revolves around, these other players/gunters are really his best friends and vice versa. Their relationships are tested throughout the book as the game progresses as they all want to win, and they all want to have the upper hand. The real kicker to the characters and where the book plays you is that you don’t really know who these people are. As Wade continuously points out, his friend could be a hot enigmatic teenage girl, or she can be some middle aged fat man named Chuck.
Despite the character interactions being within a game, they are hardly plain 2D characters. They have depth. They each challenge and help Wade in their own ways. And most importantly they each bring their own flavor and personality to the book.
Side Notes-I knew there was a
little lot of hype to the book due to the fact that they are making a movie of it. About halfway through, I caved and decided to watch the trailer. Now while the beginning of the trailer gives you a little idea about the book, the second half is wildly misleading. Let me just point out, that (and this isn’t really a spoiler) there are no races depicted in the novel. I mean, I am sure that it is expected that there are worlds within Oasis that have some racing, BUT, let me just say that if you’re expecting some epic race scene in the book….don’t. It has nothing to do with the book.
The other thing about the movie that I am curious about is if there will be any licensing issues with the film adaptation. I don’t know what the rules are for writing/filming with all these major references in them, so I am curious to see how certain elements will be shown in the book, and if some would be completely omitted due to some sort of copyright issues.