Ready Player One – 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.
Review: Wade Watts is obsessed with a virtual world called the OASIS. He spends most of his time in the game searching for “the egg,” a prize that could make him a multi-billionaire. After years of searching, he finally figures out a clue to the egg’s whereabouts, but when other players learn about the information he’s uncovered, the game becomes deadly in a very real way.
This book is so much fun. It’s crazy and intense and unpredictable and hilarious. It’s one of the most imaginative novels I’ve read this year. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it because it’s full of 70s and 80s pop-culture references. I was born in the late 80s, so I wasn’t sure if I’d understand the references, but I shouldn’t have worried. Not understanding the references didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book in any way. After the first few chapters, the pacing picks up so much that I stopped caring about pop-culture. I just wanted to find out who reaches the egg first.
Both the OASIS virtual world and the dystopian real world are well-developed and believable, but the characters are the best part of the book. They’re snarky, and they have very distinct personalities. My favorite part is when Wade meets his online friends in real life for the first time. A few of his friends are nothing like their online avatars.
I do have to admit that I had a difficult time getting into this book. I seriously considered quitting after the first few chapters. I think that had to do with the author’s writing style. I get the impression that Ernest Cline is more of a storyteller than a writer. The plot, characters, and setting are fabulous, but the writing itself is disappointing. It’s very bland. The beginning of the book is mostly info-dumping and backstory. My eyes glazed over many, many times. I just couldn’t stay interested or absorb the information I was being given. This led to me getting confused several times later in the story. I had to go back and skim the beginning to figure out what I’d missed.
The book does get much better toward the middle. I’m so happy that I didn’t give up. After the painful beginning, the story becomes thoroughly entertaining, and there is a lot for the reader to learn from it. Virtual reality is great, but it’s still no match for the real world.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys videogames and has the stamina to slog through slow starts. It’s totally worth the effort.