REVIEW: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Genre: Fiction/ Dystopian, Pages: 384, Reading Level: Easy/ Intermediate

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

“At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut- part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

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?”

Ready Player One is a modern The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It’s been a long time since I read it so I can’t comment on specific similarities, but as I was reading Ready Player One, The Westing Game was at the front of my mind.

The description of the book is actually really good so I won’t summarize. If you are not reading this on my blog, I use the descriptions from Barnes & Noble.

Ready Player One is an outstanding story of a society all over the world that is constantly hooked online for all aspects of their life- business, pleasure and academic. Poverty and hunger is rampant due to the depletion of many natural resources and the devastation caused by the damage done to the environment. Of course, this has been predicted as our near future, so RPO can be read as a cautionary tale, especially taking into consideration how many of us rely heavily on the Internet- paying bills, playing games, streaming movies and music, GPS, social networks, etc. RPO is a futuristic dystopian novel that seems to be right around our next corner.

I really enjoyed the few portions that described how the world was and how it got that way. I wish there had been more of that. The story and contest were really good. The writing was spectacular. But what I enjoyed most about RPO is that it is about geeks, and I’m a geek- not quite at the level of the characters in this book, but enough of one that I empathized. And it gives me a great excuse to allow my kids to play video games; it could make them multi-millionaires or billionaires and allow me to live a lifestyle to which I think I should be accustomed.

I gave the book four out of five stars, so I obviously really enjoyed it. That doesn’t mean there weren’t a couple of things I disliked. There were parts that became repetitive. In addition, Cline goes into a lot, and I do mean a lot, of detail on video games and role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. The man who set up the contest to begin with was obsessed with the 80’s so there are many, many references to 80’s music, movies, games, etc. At first I thought that would be kind of cool, but some of the references are quite obscure. And I guess after a while I lost a little interest in the numerous references.

However, the positives far outweighed the negatives, enough to deserve a four star rating. It’s definitely worth a try and I found it to be a quick read. Toward the end, I didn’t want to put it down.

Reviewed by Christina

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