A book full of popular culture references that has an actual storyline in it? It’s possible! #ReadyPlayerOne#OASIS #simulatedreality
[Note: This review has no spoilers.]
It’s the year 2044. Wade Watts escapes the grim reality almost 24/7 into OASIS, a sprawling virtual world spiced up with utopia. OASIS is a place where you can live and play and fall in love and visit ten thousands of planets and lets you be anything you want to be. Wade dreams of being the one to discover the OASIS creator’s James Halliday’s hidden puzzles and the winning price: massive power and fortune. The puzzles are based on the pop culture and mostly on video games that Halliday loved and was obsessed with in the late twentieth century. Wade has dedicated his time to study pop culture related to Halliday as much as he can. And when he finally gets his hands to the first puzzle, thousands of competitors join the hunt. It’s a race of life and death when some competitors want to win no matter what happens. It’s also all about geeking out and being honest to yourself and your feelings during the competition.
Ready Player One is Ernest Cline’s first novel. It became an award-winning New York Times bestseller and it’s going to get a film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. The audiobook version is narrated by Wil Wheaton, who also happens to cameo in the story as the Vice-President of the OASIS. Ten months after the book’s first edition released, the author also revealed that the book contains hidden clue to the Easter egg hunt similar to the book’s plot, a series of staged video gaming tests. Competition’s grand prize was a sports car DeLorean. There’s also a fan-fiction story Lacero written by Andy Weir, which was published in the 2016 edition of the Ready Player One.
My greatest fear before reading the book was how much should I know about the popular culture to understand the references which appear in the book. My fear was soon lifted because the writer describes the references in an understandable way and they relate to the storyline or the setting and don’t appear without reason. When the book’s competitors are playing old retro games the reader also gets the feeling of play and excitement of the hobbyist. It shows that the author writes about a topic he truly loves. Ready Player One is like an encyclopedia or a memory lane to the 80’s pop culture with a modern twist.
The reason why I started to read the book was to spot popular culture references, learn something new about 1980’s games and popular culture and enjoy the puzzles that competitors need to solve. I was seeking an ultimate quest-like adventure. Well, I think I got what I wanted. The plot gives me Indiana Jones’s treasure hunt -like feels and also it has something familiar and something new to offer at the same time. It was very interesting to read about the virtual world OASIS Ernest Cline has created. The author had a wide vision to things and that was probably his challenge as a writer to elaborate as clear as possible. There are some logicality issues near the end of the book which should have been explained more. Without any explanation the main character’s capabilities rise all of sudden and it leaves some questions open. Why now and what happened? It’s only one part in the book that drew my attention at the wrong way and seemed somehow rushed.
What I really loved in the book is actually the side characters and their stories and attitudes. For example, the creator of OASIS James Halliday is described in a detailed way and his story feels real, the plot reveals details about him related to achieved puzzles and OASIS. The players that the main character Wade interacts with have their own natures and I enjoyed the conversation they are having together. It has something relaxing in the way they geek out together. The characters felt very natural probably because they acted like logical people do.
I must say that it isn’t the deepest or the most complex story in the world but it still has a lot to give. The red thread in the book is very clear and the most important thing is it has really something to say. Some readers might find it very educational and explorative to inner self at the same time. I felt that way.
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Science fiction, dystopian novel, adventure
Publisher: Random House
Published: August 16, 2011