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 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.
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?
I completely fell in love with Ready Player One. At first, I was skeptical about the deluge of eighties/video game culture, but then I gradually didn’t even care if I had no idea what the book was referencing and just wanted to go along for the ride. I always like my books to carry a deeper meaning, something to be pondered after the last page is turned-and I was delighted to find it here; Ready Player One isn’t simply an adventurous brown bags to riches story, but more importantly, it’s about how advancing technology may not be all that glitters and virtual reality has a cost. Ready Player One is just so fun and utterly addicting-like a video game. Every time I put it down, it would nudge at me in the corner of mind, time just slipped away while I was immersed in the novel. Now I see why this was amongst the top Sci-fi books of 2011; it’s definitely my favorite read of the year so far.
The Protagonist, Wade Watts aka. Parzival:
I admit, Wade is not the ideal knight in shining armor quester: he dedicates every minute of his spare time playing video games, immersed in virtual reality, and studying a dead guy. He spends 24-hours a day holed up in his apartment, ignoring the real world while he explores OASIS; this guy just screams wimp: he doesn’t know how to deal with the real world, so he runs away from it. Aside from his impractical quest, he doesn’t have a life, nor does he have “real” friends (at one point he buys a sex doll and talks to a computer.) Yet, we love following his journey, seeing him grow as an adult.
Creator of OASIS, socially inept, but filthy rich. He is also the most enigmatic character. Which leads me to ask: how could Halliday, being so removed from the real world, possibly even code such realistic worlds and characters? This guy didn’t even talk to people and basically locked himself in a room for decades.
It’s A Geek Fest:
I’m completely clueless about 80s culture, and the references were just endless. The only thing I knew about classic video games was from a Steve Jobs biography I painstakingly read during high school (which was actually more than you’d think.) I didn’t find it a big hindrance, and I’m sure the fans would love it more than I (and I already love this book to bits.)
There’s a slight love story which I thought was was sweet, but Wade still came off a desperate fanboy and socially inept. I know most things worth having are worth fighting for but really-don’t scare the girl into thinking you’re a creep. I couldn’t helping cringing while was reading the chat transcript between Wade and Art3mis; it reminded me so much of those cheesy, desperate, “romantic” Chatroulette/Omegle messages that would prompt any normal girl to disconnect (I’m a girl, I know.) I guess this is what happens when a guy writes romance.
Fairytale, much? I wasn’t a big fan of the whole everything-can-be-solved-with-money thing (it often comes off as lay writing to me), and really I don’t see why it was necessary other than to fill up pages with descriptions of opulence, I get enough of that in romance novels with multi-billionaires. Why do you need to the most advanced virtual reality gear when the cheap stuff will work just fine (unless you want to be even further removed from reality I guess)? However, I thought the prize (the one behind the bookcase) at the end of the contest was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
Plot and Worldbuilding
Halliday’s contest just screams fun, fun, fun-a virtual reality hunt for over two hundred billion dollars-who wouldn’t want to win? It’s a game within a game (inception!) But more compelling is the universe of OASIS which is the heart of the novel. OASIS is where dreams can come true, you can be anyone you want, science can be defied, planets can be built, stores can be set up, love can be found-and whose to say just because you don’t meet a person face-to-face that your friendship isn’t real? On the other side of the coin, the idea that people are living their real lives to feed a fake one is twisted. The lines between game and reality blur. In OASIS, you can go to a bar, order a drink, drink the drink with your avatar but that’s only an illusion-you are still thirsty. Why would you spend money on a drink to watch yourself drink it, but never have it touch your lips? (But then again, I’m the girl who spent twenty bucks to dress up my MapleStory character, only to have my friends tell me my character looked ridiculous with fat lips) And the latest technology to make the simulation feel more real boggle my mind: why anyone would want to actually “feel” the sensation of being shot with laser rays is beyond me.
Overall, I loved the novel despite a few minor caveats. I found myself rereading paragraphs just so I could savor the story. 372 pages have never felt so short. I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves an adventure, except maybe my grandparents…they can barely even check their email. Just be prepared to sit on that couch for hours, because you won’t be able to tear your eyes away.
A movie is also in the works, and now that I’ve read the book…I’m feeling hipster. I imagine it to be a mix of Inception (story) and Avatar (graphics.)
Spoilery Thoughts I Need to Get Out of My System:
I thought you couldn’t win if you worked for GSS? But Wade worked as a customer service technician for GSS to pay bills…so how could he still be eligible?
What else is there for Wade to do in OASIS? He is basically God now.
Why did Halliday code such an indestructable robot for?
If the Sixers won, would the prize room still be the same? Or would Anorak be happily handing down extreme wealth and power to the “bad guys”? Or would Og have intervened?