“I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness.”
-Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
The year is 2044, and the world is a grim place to be. Poverty has risen, rich people stay rich and poor people stay poor. Not to mention a very polluted air, land and sea. Luckily for the people, billionaire James Donovan Halliday, created a virtual reality game called OASIS. In which most people use to escape the terrible reality that they live in. Unfortunately Halliday died without any heir and for his last testament. Halliday revealed that within his game, OASIS, he had hidden several Easter Eggs, clues and keys that whosoever finds these intricately hidden artefacts will have access to rights of the multi billion dollar game which is OASIS.
Straight from the first page I knew Ready Player One was going to be an excellent story. I was immediately hooked and like a video game I was addicted. The story is told in first person by the protagonist Wade Watts. Much like Peter Parker or Clark Kent, Wade Watts also has alliteration for a name. Thanks to his comic book reading dad. Unfortunately Wade has been orphaned early on his life and is forced to live with his Aunt, where he is often antagonized. His only solace is to fully submerge himself in the virtual reality game of OASIS. We follow Wade as he himself searches for the treasure meeting different people likewise confronting evil organizations who want to monopolize the game for profit.
I’m telling you now if you are not a fan of the 80s you probably won’t enjoy this book. I myself know very little of the 80s except for some movies and some music that came out that decade. Ready Player One is filled with pop trivia references from books, movies, video games, comic books basically anything geeky. Luckily for me I managed to connect to the game having played several MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) myself, I knew some concepts being talked about within the book.
That said, the book doesn’t have an original premise as you might have seen the same plot from movies such as Total Recall or even some Anime such as The Greed Island Arc from Hunter X Hunter, where the protagonist has to go into a virtual reality game created by his dad and find clues that lead to his whereabouts. And even the part where this rich man leaving a treasure for people to find, on his last breath is similar to premise of the Anime One Piece. Not to mention the character can sometimes become Robert Langdonish, a protagonist on most Dan Brown novels, on his clue finding approach.
However what makes Ready Player One stand out is the video game world, OASIS. OASIS is not just a single 3 dimensional plane, but rather is made up of different worlds. The scope of the game is astronomically huge, and with this, the author managed to capture a sense of adventure for the characters. It is a space opera that delivered amazing Sci-Fi action much like how the original Star Wars Trilogy did.
The characters are likeable specially the protagonist, Wade Watts whose in game name is Parzival, like the knight from Arthur’s Knight’s of the Roundtable. As Parzival unlock puzzles and clues I felt his excitement and joy. I can empathize and it is the first time I’ve had goosebumps reading a book. Much like most geeks on their late teens, Wade, has a lot of insecurities to over come. And one can easily relate to these insecurities, I personally how it feels to have the same and as I read on I can share his pain. Which makes me root for him a whole lot more.
The novel is also with flaws, as certain characters falls into certain stereotypes and certain reveals are made just for diversity reasons. That said, that does not take you away from the story as it is still an incredible tale. Ready Player One is without a doubt one of the best book I’ve read and is definitely a high favourite. Ready Player One is highly recommended for people who loves a well done Science Fiction story. It is an intergalactic treasure hunt that kept onto my feet and without a doubt kept me from wanting to read the next page.