Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Ready Player One is a little bit of an odd book – very geeky in a strangely appealing way, not without fault or cliché, yet still enjoyable and fresh.  The book is set in the year 2045 and the world is obsessed with a virtual gaming world called the OASIS; when the billionaire owner of OASIS dies he bequeaths his fortune to anyone who can crack a series of puzzles hidden within the game.  OASIS is a way of life for the world over with people working, playing and learning within this expansive virtual environment.  It’s a bit like ‘Better Than Life’ from the Red Dwarf tv programme or book, only more vast, but not addictive; the gamers within OASIS know that they are in a virtual world.  The story follows Wade Watts as he tries to solve the biggest puzzle in this futuristic virtual world.

The hunt for clues, keys, and doorways within OASIS is the very basic premise for the book; however, there is much more to it than that, but I don’t want to give too much away.  The designer of OASIS was obsessed with the 1980’s and therefore the puzzles are all linked heavily to 1980’s pop culture.  The book references 80’s films, comics, and games continually and this is the geekiest part of the book.  If you’re not a fan of this era then you’re probably not going to get much out of the book.  One thing that I did find slightly annoying about the book was this referencing – that is to say that the 80’s trivia and cultural references were fine, and fun to spot; what was annoying though, was the author feeling the need to explain the references all the time.  For example, a character meets another person within OASIS and on introduction quotes a line from Highlander; the author then feels the need to let the reader know that it was a quote from Highlander, rather than allowing the reader to either know the reference or look it up for themselves.  Not everyone will find this annoying, but I did – luckily this did occur less and less throughout the book.

Overall, Ready Player One is a fast paced thriller with a comic book edge.  I liked Wade Watts as the central protagonist; his narration was fun and witty with a touch of nerdy annoyance.  Wade’s companions within the games and puzzles were also enjoyable.  Cline has created an interesting future which takes advantage of emerging technologies fusing them with mass globalisation and consumerism.  The author describes an entirely plausible world, even if the novels central conceit is wholly unbelievable.  I really don’t think this book will be to everyone’s taste, and though I did enjoy it, it’s not a book that I will return to.  If you’re an ‘80’s geek then you should definitely read it, otherwise you may want to give this one a miss – maybe wait for the Spielberg adaptation…

If you have read Ready Player One you may like:

  • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor (Grant Naylor)
  • Better Than Life by Rob Grant & Doug Naylor (Grant Naylor)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
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