Ready Player One
In a world dominated by OASIS, the greatest virtual-reality videogame of all time, Wade Watts tries to escape the day-by-day drudgery of his life by finding the game’s ultimate Easter Egg. But, in the process, he makes enemies with some very unkind people that will stop at nothing, even the prospect of murder, to take the Egg and its privileges for themselves.
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Some swearing and mild drug references.
Book in a Nutshell (No Spoilers)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is set in a nearly post-apocalyptic world, where humanity has been reduced to living in makeshift towers of mobile homes stacked upon one another. It’s a dreary and drudging day-to-day life. There is minimal industrial, agricultural, or economic progress of any sort, and the only people with any power all work for the same, corrupt company–one that dominates most of the world. What caused this change of affairs? It wasn’t zombies, or any form of natural cataclysm. Nature did not seek to take back the world from our greedy, selfish hands. No, this dystopian apocalypse came as a result of one, simple invention.
In particular, OASIS, the world’s greatest videogame, developed by James Halliday, a man now passed away and treated with reverence usually reserved for gods. When it was first developed, OASIS was a virtual reality program with greater scope, quality, and promise than any other virtual reality device that had come before it. And, from there, it only became thousands of times larger. Originally, OASIS only had about a hundred fully fleshed-out worlds, each entirely unique to the game and as large as the Earth from reality. But as the popularity grew, and powerful developers took rise and added massive mods to the game, OASIS became something more. By the time the actual story begins, within the confines of OASIS, players can take their character and traverse practically any piece of fiction or historical era in the history of humanity. Wanna go to the worlds of Halo? Do it. Maybe fight alongside Link to save Zelda? There are more fully-rendered campaigns for that than there are hairs on your head. Minecraft. Middle-Earth. Dragonball Z. The French Revolution. Narnia. Your neighborhood from forty years ago.
OASIS has everything and is everything. The world now runs on OASIS, so it makes sense that reality would be neglected. People go there for schooling, for battle, for family reunions. And, among all of this, we have our hero–a young, unassuming boy, trying to find Halliday’s Egg, the single greatest Easter Egg in existence, left behind by the creator of OASIS himself. But nobody has been able to unravel even the first clue to finding the Egg in years, so it’s determined to be pretty much nothing more than a hoax… until the protagonist figures out the first clue, starting a millions-wide, mad dash to find the Egg and the fortune and power that comes with it.
There’s an emphasis and indulgence on pop culture in this book, particularly on stuff you’d find in the 80’s. Between that and the idiosyncrasies of OASIS, there’s plenty to love in Ready Player One, which never falls short of providing details for an immersive and eventful world. The breakneck search for Halliday’s Egg provides an inextinguishable chain of excitement that sends you plowing through the story with vigor and childlike fantasy.
But Ready Player One is not without some issues. For starters, while the characters hardly fail to be delightful, they are definitely just swimming in the shadow of the setting, which is far more grand than they. But, though the characters are by far the weakest part of the story, they aren’t deal-breaking. The humor and comradery cast between them is always fresh, and they are not without developments. This helps stave off any feelings of character stagnation that might claim them otherwise. Secondly, the writing is good, but the author pulls a Tolkien at the beginning and feeds you way too much exposition before making any actual progress in the story. It’s great exposition, but there’s too much of it. Some of it could have been spread out through the narrative.
It doesn’t matter if you like videogames or not. It doesn’t matter if you like reading or not. Ready Player One can evict all your inhibitions and give you something delightful to play with. There’s a lot that can be said about this book, and unfortunately I can’t get to all of it so you’ll have to discover it for yourself. It might be a little rough around the edges, but the imagination never runs short, and you’ll find a yearning to adopt that imagination for yourself.
God bless, sleep soundly, and always remember to smile.
VERSE OF THE DAY: 2 Corinthians 3: 9-11
“If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!”
SONG OF THE DAY: “City of Orphans” by The Classic Crime
+ Vast amounts of nerd appeal
+ Brilliant setting and story
- Pacing is slow, especially in the early pages
- Characters are put on the backburner compared to the setting and plot