Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Publisher: Arrow Books (2012)
First Published: 2011
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?
Two things: I am a child of the ’80s – I was actually born in 1972, the same year as Halliday, the creator of the Oasis in Ready Player One. Second thing: I am not a “gamer”. I probably would be if I was any good at computer games, but I am completely useless. I am amazed by the creativity and imagination that goes into these games though – my son has a Playstation 4 and the graphics are truly amazing! So what I’m trying to say is, yes, I identified with the whole 80’s aspect of this book but not so much with the gaming aspect, and it truly didn’t matter!
Ready Player One is a a great novel, whether you were lived through the 80s, are an avid gamer or have never picked up a joystick in your life. I think it probably did help that I understood and identified with all the 80s references, which brought back a lot of fun memories, but the characters and storyline are so engaging that I don’t think it matters when you were born.
I really loved the characters in this book and could totally understand why anyone would want to escape to the Oasis in the world described. I particularly loved how the female characters were portrayed – girls have a reputation for being pretty useless at games and I’m sure this must irk the girl gamers out there! But in Ready Player One the girls are kick-ass strong characters who can certainly show the boys a thing or two! All the characters have been through some pretty tough times in an austere world-gone-wrong, in an all too believable future!
This was a definite 5 star read for me right the way through …. until the end where I felt let down hugely by Mr Cline! No spoilers, but I really wanted things to turn out a little differently from what I thought was the predictable ending, but that is my only tiny quibble.
I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone! If you like adventure stories and stories about people overcoming adversity, give this one a go!