"Ready Player One": Escape Into the Oasis
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
So there’s another book that everyone is talking about right now. One of those, “Oh my god! This is the greatest book ever! You have to read it!” books. But every time I look at it, I don’t understand the point of it. It’s all about video games and focuses on a gamer in a virtual world. That’s sounds nice, but no one wanted to tell me more than that, because they didn’t want to spoil it which is quite annoying when I don’t care to read book unless it’s intriguing in some way. But when I saw it on sale after the release of trailer for the movie adaption, I decided to give it a go. The book is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and here is my review.
What is Ready Player One? Unlike like some people, I will tell you what it is about and that is not a spoiler. So the book takes place in the future and everything short of a nuclear war, has went wrong. There’s economic collapse, epidemics, over population, loss of land mass from global warming and what not. The world is just bad with people are cramped together barely surviving. But there is one escape. It is a great virtual world (called the Oasis) that people escape to. The teenagers and youth use it the most, and are named the missing millions because they are removed from reality altogether.
In this world though, there is a ray of hope. The creator and sole owner of the Oasis dies, leaving an inheritance to whatever gamer can find his Easter egg. To find that they need to follow clues to find three keys in the Oasis that will lead them there. This man is the richest man in the world and his money could easily be used to make anyone’s dreams comes true in the real world. The story follows Wade Watts, a poor teenager who has dedicated his life to finding the egg. To find the keys and clues, he has been deciphering riddles and extensively been studying the creator’s obsessions, the 1980's. So much so, that Wade has become obsessed with it himself.
The one day, he has a revelation and he finds the first key to the Easter egg and the whole virtual world is turned upside down. Cooperate gamers known as sixers has an army of thousands of people rushing to claim the Easter egg to own and destroy the one last good thing left in the world. Wade and his friend soon find themselves among other poor gamers in a race to get the Easter egg against the sixers, who are cheating and willing to any diabolical mean in both the real and virtual world to get ownership of the Oasis.
So the good? This is an interesting concept. It paints an interesting world. The fact that Oasis is the last good thing left in the world is a sad yet intriguing setting. There are also some interesting plot points that involve the people Wade knew through their avatars his whole life and strangeness when he meets these people in real life. It’s an intriguing concept that I haven’t seen in science fiction before. The story is fun while being somewhat melancholy at times, offering a unique tale that somehow is full of adventure, pop culture references, and surprisingly some good social commentary.
The bad? This book is full of a lot of jargon about the 1980's and gaming which can be annoying for quite a few people. If you play video games like I do, you will be annoyed by the book stopping to explain how video games work. If you lived in the eighties or just grew up watching eighties movies, you will get annoyed by the book stopping to reference or explain something like Ferris Bueller's Day Off in detail. I found myself speed reading through it to get to the good parts. The core story itself oddly enough could use a little more detail. And the main character's obsession of the 1980's is worrisome. He is so obsessed with it to an unhealthy level that made me wonder if Wade will be okay after this. Better yet, is the author reflection of Wade? I’m very worried about this author if he is. Also for what reads like young adult book there are a lot of F bombs. This is an odd choice for the author because I don’t know what audience this book is for. Also I wanted more of the real world. I think seeing more of it would have been nice. The quests to get the keys could be more exciting. And the ambiguous ending left me wanting more. I wanted to know how these events in the Oasis will affect the future of the real world.
Overall, it is interesting piece of work. The story offers a lot of good stuff, but the book often stops to explain video games or pop culture from the 1980's for a couple pages before the story starts moving again. That I found quite annoying and I think a reader should know about that before they start the book. It’s not the best thing since slice bread as the world will make you think. It is a still good book more the less. It’s worth the read.
3 smoothies out of four
Overall Rating: Escape into the Oasis