Book Review: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline—just in time for my birthday today! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?

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.”

I will confess right here and now: I’ve read this book years ago when I was in highschool, and I remember loving it. I may have a bit of a bias when it comes to this review as a result. I expected it to be not as good as I remembered reading it when I picked it up again, and…

Let’s make something clear right now: One is going to either find Wade incredibly annoying or very interesting, depending on how you read him. It’s clear that he’s not quite your average kid—the way he describes his search for the Egg (if you’re wondering what it is, think of the Easter Eggs/special things you find in video games randomly, except this one is a giant prize to basically control the OASIS) makes it clear that he absolutely obsessed with Halliday, with the OASIS, and everything that’s pop culture. It’s kind of endearing how into-it he is, because it’s clear he has so much fun learning about all of this, and he makes me feel like I’m having fun learning about the world he lives and interacts in (both virtual and real world, but mostly virtual world).

I have to admit, however, it does get a little grating how he basically act as the information dump setting up the worldbuilding of the book. Thankfully, this only lasts for the first few chapters before the rest of the worldbuilding is implemented through the experiences of the characters, rather than the characters explaining absolutely everything.

Wade’s interactions with the other characters are fun to read. Even with more minor characters such as Daito and Shoto, it’s interesting to see how he works together with them to get to the Egg, beat the Sixers, and it was most fun to read them working through conflict with each other.

Wade’s romance with Art3mis/Samantha is especially interesting to read. It’s clearly a slown-burn type of romance, at least with how it’s written out, but it’s clear it’s not the main focus of the book and it doesn’t detract from the main plotline either. Heck, Art3mis even stops interacting with Wade for the sake of the main plot of trying to find the Egg before the Sixers do! Both of them don’t get distracted by the blooming romance too much—they both know they’ve got an evil corporation to take down first before they let things happen. However, it was sweet for them to finally meet in real life by the end of the book, and one can tell that things are looking up for their romance in the end.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars, only losing the one star due to the huge information dump at the beginning! At the time of this being posted, the movie is already out. Will I get the chance to watch it? I hope so, because if I do, I’ll definitely write a movie/book comparison!

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