Friday, September 09, 2011

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One

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 for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

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. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

Pages: 384 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition
Released: August 16, 2011

What do you get if you took World of Warcraft, the Sims, and The Surrogates and mixed them in a blender for 80 seconds? If you said that you’d get a world where you could control your own ‘Sim’ in a huge massively multiplayer online world, where you can go on quests, hang out with friends, and even go to school. And in this world, it allows players to be anything that they wanted to be. A hotter body, sure. An awesome warrior with cool weapons and has huge muscles, of course. A player, in both senses, whatever you want you can get. The world offers a better you, a better life, a better world, so much so that some people spend their entire time in the online world that they forget about the real world.

If this was your answer, then you’d be correct. You’d also be correct if you said that you’d get the delightful debut novel, Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.
When James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, passes away it kicks off contest like no other. Since he was never married and has no offspring or friends, his entire fortune is up for grabs. And what better way to do this then with a game? In his will, he left a puzzle. Solve it and you get to do a quest, once you do that, you get another puzzle. Solve that and you do a question...I think you get the idea.

The only way to get this is if you immerse yourself in all things Halliday. He loved the 80s, so even though the year is 2040, the 80s made a huge comeback. The more you know the better chance you have at winning the inheritance and gaining total control over OASIS.

The main character, Wade, goes on this quest, but finds that the further he gets into this puzzle, the deadly it becomes for him, not only in OASIS, but in the real world to.



Ready Player One has a lot of great things going for it. As a gamer, I loved reading about the world that Cline created and seeing how it affected everyday life. Even though I didn’t grow up in the 80s, I did get a lot of the pop culture references and what not. Just a note, there is a lot of 80s references. A lot.

The story, as a whole, is fairly interesting. On one hand, it’s exciting and seeing how Wade figures out the puzzles was fun to read. But on the other hand, the book did tend to tell you things instead of showing them to you. I think with this book it was a bit hard to not have an info dump here and there, because of the nature of the story. I just wish that the info dumps weren’t so much. I wanted to read more about what Wade was doing and even learn more about his dystopian world.

The characters are a bit hit and miss too. I found Wade annoying and stupid, but he was an interesting character. But I think the main problem is that the good guys are clearly labelled; and therefore, they don’t have as much depth to them as I would have liked. The same goes with the bad guys. The Sixers, minus the head honcho, had no personality. The main villain was a touch over the top. You do get some development, but not as much as I'd like.

I think my biggest con of this book is the first few pages. In the prologue, Wade tells us that he was the winner of the competition and is writing this book in order to set the record straight. I felt like this kind of took away from the climax of the story. Instead of wondering whether Wade makes it or not, I already knew that he got it. The sense of surprise was taken out.

This may seem like I hated the novel, but I didn't. I actually liked the story and felt like Cline did a great job for his debut novel. There are problems, but I did like the premise and the gamer in me had fun reading this. I'll be looking forward to Cline's next novel. Definitely check this one out.

3.5 stars

ps. There is a movie coming out about it soon.

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