I finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline a couple of weeks ago. Can I just say it? Wow! It was a great read, fascinating and engaging, highly imaginative and compelling. I can’t believe it took me this long to actually get around to reading it.
My friend Amy was the one who told me about the book. She listened to the audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton, and fell in love with it. She said I needed to read it. She implored, the badgered me, and she harassed me until I relented and said I would read it. I didn’t.
It took a documentary, Atari: Game Over to pique my interest, and so one day while in Lubbock, I stopped at the Barnes & Nobel by the mall, and I bought the book. It sat on my to read pile for at least a month, probably longer. In the meantime, Amy cajoled, pestered, begged and outright pleaded for me to read the book. It wasn’t until another friend of hers – well actually, her friend’s husband, but I don’t need to be nit-picky – read the book, that I decided to sit down and read. I can’t have anyone show me up, after all!
So I read it. Well, actually I only read the first 60 pages. It was okay, I guess. It was a little slow so I put it down for a week. Then, when I had a free day, I sat down and began to read again. This time the action picked up, and I found myself fully immersed in the story about a man, James Halliday, who created a virtual world and became the wealthiest man alive, but having no heirs, decided to create a contest to give the winner his wealth, and control of OASIS, the virtual reality he and his friend created decades before.
This is a story that takes place almost exclusively online. It’s an escape from the dystopian reality of a civilization in the midst of collapse, of crushing poverty and limited resources. OASIS is what its name implies, a getaway, one that is mostly free to use, and as such, the target of a corporation intent on winning the contest in order to turn the virtual utopia into a cash cow.
Enter our hero, the narrator of the story, Wade Owen Watts, who goes by the name of Parzival while in OASIS. He’s a student who, along with millions of other individuals, is drawn into the contest, wanting to be the first to discover the secrets Halliday encoded into OASIS. Watts becomes obsessed with the 1980’s, a decade the eccentric billionaire himself obsessed over, that being the time when he was a teen.
What comes across is a race between the everyman and the soulless, corrupt corporation, not only for bragging rights or the over $100 billion, but for control of the single most important outlet for the average human being. At stake is OASIS, with its access to the single largest depository of knowledge ever assembled, books, music, and movies all at the disposal for mankind.
It’s a little odd reviewing such an amazing book, especially one as well-known and read as Ready Player One. I’ve seen on my Facebook feed that many of my friends have recently read the novel as well, and they loved it. Hollywood has also picked up the novel and is reportedly in the process of turning it into a movie, with no less that Steven Spielberg at the helm.
So what’s my take? I’m sure it’s been said before, but it really is a bit of World of Warcraft meets The Matrix, well kind of. I loved the storyline, and though it could have easily devolved into some hokey David-vs-Goliath type story, the author deftly created one of the best books I’ve ever read. He manages to entertain despite clueing us in to the outcome of the story. You fall for the characters, who you meet as the online avatars of their respective players, and you still come to care for them, and as such Ernest Cline manages to surprise the reader.
This is definitely a 5 out of 5 star book, in my humble opinion. Check it out, then badger your friends to read it as well. I can’t wait to see what Spielberg creates in terms of the visual aspect, but he’ll be hard pressed to realize everything Cline managed to do!