Thursday, 1 May 2014

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Description from Goodreads:

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?

Oh my. Where can I even begin? I already knew after reading approximately 100 pages that I could give Ready Player One the honour of adding it to my 'favourites' list on Goodreads which is a place for those special books which have just blown my mind in a way or another. And Ready Player One did exactly that. I'm really afraid that this review is going to be a sucky one because I think I can't really critically evaluate it - I feel like everything in the book was perfect and I wouldn't change a thing even if I could. So I'd like to start off by saying that this book was a glorious masterpiece, a must-read for everyone who is interested in the 80's pop culture, gaming in general, or just in science fiction. On second thought, forget that - it's a must read for everyone, and now I'm trying to explain why.

The immensity and detailedness of Ready Player One's world is just mind-blowing. It's crystal clear that the author is massively interested in video gaming and in pop culture in general, but I just can't comprehend the amount of research he must have done and thought put into the world while writing the novel. There are hundreds, if not even thousands of references to different games, movies, TV shows, and bands which made me totally geek out as I realised I used to watch and love the same things as the protagonist, Wade, does. Even though the references and allusions were coming with a constant feed (and might be a bit overwhelming for some people), I absolutely adored the fact that it was a constant element in the book and not just reserved for the beginning of the book as a way to show off or establish the obsession with the 80s. Well, there might have been some showing off, but in a good way and not in a pseudo-intellectual way. 

I've read some books where the virtual worlds have been a major part of those novels, but I have always felt that eventually the elements were brushed off because something else came along. But this was never the case in Ready Player One. Majority of the time the readers play on OASIS with Wade, and I would totally lie if I said that while reading these gaming parts I wasn't absorbed in the setting. Because I most definitely was. I read the novel in two sits for the simple reason that I wanted to be more on OASIS (I would get so addicted to it if it wasn't fiction, not even kidding). The real world faded away while Wade was doing research or hunting for the Easter Egg, and for a moment I was him - wandering around in the virtual world, determined to be the last man standing. It is such a weird feeling when you become aware of your real surroundings and remember that all you just read is fiction. 

The characters were so great. I loved the fact that Wade wasn't some rich boy taking advantage of his rich parentage and spending all his parents' money on new armours or teleportation passes on OASIS, but he actually was a lonely orphan living in a dangerous neighbourhood which consisted of stacks and stacks of trailers huddled together, and on top of each other - in a futuristic trailer park where you rarely have privacy or security. Wade isn't the typical hero. He's socially incompetent, painfully self-conscious, but also smart and very dedicated to the things he loves. The events which he faces definitely challenge him, making him reconsider the values he has cherished before. Wade's character development was wonderful to witness even though it wasn't exactly just about parading forward. The other characters made me fall in love with them as well - Aech, Halliday, Art3mis, and Shoto all became my friends as well. They all were so very different from each other yet they shared something very crucial: undying love for OASIS for being the escape from the dangerous and ugly real life.

Without even noticing, the book doesn't just handle issues such as social isolation, materialism, and greed, but also friendship, love, racism, sexism, and prejudice. Cline could have easily taken the road where he just focused on the gaming theme without giving a second thought to more in-depth issues, but he wonderfully integrated everything into Ready Player One. I can only imagine how proud he must be of this book - I definitely would be. The author has written a stunning piece of art in which the majority of my interests and fascinations have been included. I have to admit that I'm a bit afraid to start reading the next book because I feel like nothing will compare to Ready Player One. I probably should refrain myself from reading for a few days so that I can cool off a bit. But luckily, I can read Ready Player One again whenever I want to, and savour in its epicness if I feel so.


  1. I also had a hard time picking up another book after Ready Player One, when I first read it when it came out. I had just read my other favorite book ever (the Night Circus) and reading my two favorite books back to back had me on overload!! It really is a wonderful book. If you loved the VR aspect of the book, two VR books I'd suggest are Erebos by Ursual Poznanski & The Eye of the Minds by James Dashner. Neither of them are RPO but both are great in their own way, especially the Dashner.

    1. Oh, thank you for the recommendations!! :) I will check them out right away. I don't usually get post-reading depression, but now I feel like I've hit a massive one. It's worth it though - I really loved reading RPO. :)


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