The world is a ruin of pollution and death. In the year 2044, the only escape from reality is the OASIS, a virtual reality that is so immersive that real life almost seems fake. Wade Watts is someone called a ‘gunter’ – short for egg hunter. Somewhere in OASIS, the world’s deceased programmer has left the ultimate easter egg for players to find – the control over the OASIS and his multibillion dollar fortune. Leaving behind cryptic clues and a diary full of 80’s culture, the hunt for the egg has been stagnant for over five years. Until the fateful day Wade unravels the secret of the first clue. Now everyone wants a piece of him and his knowledge, and some will go to great lengths to obtain control of the OASIS. Now Wade must continue searching for the egg, while hiding from a deadly corporation, deciding who he can trust, and falling in love. “Ready Player One” is a love letter to 80’s culture and video games, with a world that is as engaging at the OASIS itself.
As a lover of video games and geek culture, “Ready Player One” has been on my to-read list for a long time. I’m SO glad that I finally decided to read this dystopian novel as it blew me away in world building and description! The OASIS and virtual reality as a concept are thoroughly explored, and the descriptions of how the OASIS functions was fascinating to a gamer like myself. Though I was born in the early 1990’s the 80’s culture was fairly familiar to me and I could appreciate Cline’s thorough knowledge of the topic. However, this can also be the book’s greatest downfall, depending on your reading preferences. The narrative will go off on tangential topics for pages, giving the reader a proper understand of someone’s backstory or the history of the world, but it can take away from the flow of the plot as a whole. It took me a while to get through the first part of the book because of this, but once Wade cleared the first Gate, I was completely hooked.
Wade is an interesting character in that he isn’t really that special at the beginning. He’s a poor kid, living in the ‘stacks’ (stacked up mobile homes that could be over 20 stories high), attending the free OASIS schooling so he wouldn’t get bullied at an actual school. He’s clever and dedicated to the hunt for the easter egg, but this is a quality that all of the gunters share. When he unlocks the first gate he is shot into superstardom, with companies paying him to use his OASIS avatar for marketing and getting thousands of emails a day. It is Wade’s cleverness and sense of self-preservation that drives his character to grow past the self-conscious lonely teenager he was at the beginning. The other characters get some development, but not much. They’re interesting and help Wade feel more genuine and relatable, but they don’t get much growth despite the size of the book.
Overall “Ready Player One” is a solid four out of five stars for me, as the action and the fascinating world that Cline has created kept me on the edge of my seat. Definitely recommended, especially for gamers and lovers of 80’s geek culture!