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.
There is a chance you will really love this book if you A) love video games B) consider yourself a misunderstood nerd/geek or C) love 80s pop culture & games. Even if you don’t do or like any of these things you will probably still enjoy this book, because it’s awesome. I know I got very few of the 80s references, being a 90s child, but that didn’t bother me. (Though when I got to the Pac-Man part I was like AHA! I KNOW PAC-MAN. 10 POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR)
If you’ve ever played Second Life, the OASIS is kind of like that. Just way more immersive and real. It’s kind of like Second Life + Oculus Rift + a suit that makes you actually feel things inside the virtual reality + a smell tower that makes you smell the virtual reality. Oh, and + Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Halliday is Willy Wonka and the OASIS is the chocolate factory.
People in this book literally live their entire lives inside the OASIS, they even go to school and get married there. You don’t even need to get out of the house, you can go to a restaurant in the OASIS, order a pizza, and that order will transfer to a the pizza place near you in the real world and they’ll deliver to your door. Amazing.
Before long, billions of people around the world were working and playing in the OASIS every day. Some of them met, fell in love, and got married without even setting foot on the same continent. The line of distinction between a person’s real identity and that of their avatar began to blur.
Ready Player One pretty much about about loneliness, identity, and what counts as real and what doesn’t. Is your avatar you? Is your avatar as real as the actual you? Does the OASIS count as an actual life? Are the friendships you make online real? (Yes, they are.) And of course there is a warning here about not spending your entire life in front of a computer screen, but pfft, don’t tell me how to live, author.
This book is so. damn. geeky. It’s the geekiest book I’ve ever read. “You’d be amazed how much research you can get done when you have no life whatsoever.”
I loved it a lot. Especially the first and last third of it. I found myself getting really engaged in the hunt for Halliday’s egg. It was fun watching the scoreboard, seeing Wade rise and fall and struggle to keep his name on top of the list, and then having to worry about being murdered in real life because the Big Bad don’t want him to find the prize before they do.
I liked the characters too, for the most part, though Halliday was that kind of nerdy elitist that I absolutely can’t stand but he’s dead through the entire book so whatever. Wade is kind of that loner nerd who doesn’t leave his apartment for six months because he’s gaming and who is in love with a female blogger he met in said game. Sad? Yes. But his entire life is sad and the real world is going to shit, so what’s a teenager to do? But then, is his crush even a girl? Or is someone just using a female avatar??? No one knows!
Through most of the book I was worried about the Smurfette Syndrome, I felt it was too blatant. There was only one girl in a cast of males, and she is this kind of kick-ass girl who is also, surprise surprise, the narrator’s love interest. I felt like it supported the idea that women, or at least very few women, are geeks/gamers, and I can’t stand that insinuation. But towards the end it didn’t bother me as much anymore so I didn’t let it detract from my rating (I was going to take away half a star). I won’t tell you why, you’re just going to have to read it to find out.
I’ve seen that a lot of people find Ready Player One a bit dense sometimes and a bit too info-dumpy. And it is, but I actually found the majority of the info-dumps interesting and I very rarely found myself skimming. I was interested in the world and how everything worked, especially the OASIS and all the equipment that comes with it. And sure, it can be a bit dense, there’s not much dialogue except for the times where Wade and his friends/competitors meet up in chat rooms, but I didn’t mind, because the action was so good. It slowed down a bit towards the middle, but it got back up again soon enough.
One of the reveals towards the end of the book is actually something I guessed about halfway through. How, I don’t know, I guess I just figured there had to be something and I just landed on the right answer. I patted myself on the back a little for that one. If you’ve read this book you might know what part I’m talking about? I loved it a lot.
I don’t really know what else to say except that this is really nerdy and I really enjoyed it. I recommend it and I’m curious to see how the movie will turn out because mostly everything of importance will be going down in a virtual world. I like the casting for Art3mis, not so sure about Wade. Is it 2018 yet?
I read this book as a part of the 2016 Dystopia Reading Challenge.
Have you read Ready Player One? Did you enjoy it? Are you a gamer? I don’t consider myself “a gamer” per se, but I do enjoy games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect (no ME3 spoilers, I’m still playing that one). And I will always be obsessed with Spyro.