Ready Player One Review

Ready Player One
By: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House NY (August 6th 2011)
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Ready Player One

Synopsis
(from Goodreads)

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune–and remarkable power–to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

My Rating
3 stars out of 5

My Review

This book has amazing world building. I would love to live in a world where we have the type of virtual reality video game they have in this book. However, the storyline is lacking and seemed unimportant at times. These big battles are described, but who cares? It’s not really happening, it’s a video game. Occasionly someone’s real life is in danger, but most of the time the stakes were high enought for me to care about the ending.

I think this is a popular book because of the abundant 80s pop/nerd culture references. This gets tiring though. There are long lists of name-checking fantasy and sci-fi characters, settings, authors and other pop culture references that at a certain point stopped adding to the world building. There are constant comparisions that don’t make sense if the reader is not familiar with the reference.

The story had some dystopian elements that I liked. The real world is overcrowded and impoverished, but people can escape that and spend all their time in the virtual reality of the Oasis.

I did take issue with some of the technology described in the book. The main character uses futuristic inventions all the time – a chemical to disolve his hair instead of having to shave, advanced computers to simulate the character’s actions in the Oasis, and an AI to talk to, but he still had to diet and exercise to lose weight. The history surrounding the creation of the Oasis was a bit muddled. It was supposed to be this great place where there was no fee to join, but you have to pay to do pretty much anything in it, including travel and clothes for your avatar. Another thing is the Oklahoma City trailor park the main character starts out in, where the trailors are stacked on top of each other. I get that the author is trying to describe instense poverty, but a stack of trailers isn’t going to survive tornado season in Oklahoma, no matter what year it is.

There are a some things I liked about this book, but some I didn’t. If you like video games and nerd culture, you will enjoy the world building, but if your knowledge in that subject is lacking, it will be boring and unrelateable.

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