In light of the news that Steven Spielberg has signed on to direct the movie version of Ready Player One, I figured I’d share an old review that I wrote when I first read it back when it was released! Back in college, I picked it up on a whim and instantly fell in love with it – and now that I’ve decided that my purpose in life is virtual reality, it feels more relevant than ever!
From my discontinued blog Life, Love, Livi: August 25, 2011
I am a huge nerd. I spent a good chunk of my first 2 years at college obsessed with World of Warcraft. I’ve seen all of the Star Wars movies more times than I can count. I’ve read more game-centric fanfiction than I want to admit- and I have never been so absorbed with something as I was reading Ready Player One, a new release by Ernest Cline.
In the not-so-distant future, our planet is a mess. A huge online immersive experience, the OASIS, has provided everyone in the world with a virtual way to escape their bleak realities. World hunger has spread over the surface of the globe, violence and crime is an expected way of life, and everyone has the ability to get away, thanks to the never-ending adventures that the OASIS provides. A person’s virtual worth has become more valuable than their actual worth, and anonymity promises to protect every avatar as users are given the freedom to explore massive virtual planets and live a virtual life that is more satisfactory than their own.
When the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a legacy that becomes the largest “easter egg” hunt of all time – the first individual to uncover three keys, hidden in the OASIS multi-verse, and make it through the trials that follow each key, will be the sole heir to his vast fortune. For Parzival, this is exactly the ticket he needs to escape his slum life and make something of himself. With the help of his friends, Aech, Shoto, Daito, and Art3mis, 18 year old Wade Watts becomes the first person whose avatar finds the first of the three keys, launching Parzival into virtual stardom, and into the middle of a deadly hunt for the ultimate prize.
I can honestly say that this book has become my favorite. So much so that I am debating going to buy a physical copy of it as well (right now, all I have is the iBooks copy) and reading that version, too. I started reading at about 11 AM this morning, had 3 hours of class and 3 hours of homework, skipped dinner and the gym, and finished it. I have never been so enthralled by a novel before in my life. Ever. This book is absolutely fantastic.
Having played an MMO, I felt that I could relate to this book on a very personal level – Wade’s avatar, Parzival, is a more accurate representation of Wade’s character than what his surroundings have allowed him to be. This story explores what it’s like for people who eat, sleep, and breathe the lives of the characters they create – except in this book, the virtual and physical world are so intricately entwined that they become two sides of the same world. Cline does an awesome job at capturing what it is like to create bonds and friendships with people who you may interact with in a video game (though the OASIS is so much more than just a game) and I think that it really does show the impact of how a virtual society can alter how we as individuals grow and how our relationships form.
Ready Player One is a great nerdy, science fiction read. The plot focuses on exploring older, 80’s gaming content through the eyes of a teenager in 2044, and this combination of far out futuristic and fantasy familiar provides a solid foundation for a book that had me constantly on my toes.
If you aren’t into science fiction, video gaming, or pop culture, it might be a little hard to get into this book – but I know that it has topped my lists, and I probably won’t shut up about it for months to come.
I can’t wait for the movie!