Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
In 2045, reality is a place where no one wants to live anymore. For eighteen-year-old Wade Watts, the only place he feels truly at home is in the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. It has been five years since James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, has died, leaving behind a short video message. The video reveals that Halliday has hidden an Easter egg somewhere inside the OASIS and offers the first clue to finding it. Whoever finds this egg first will inherit Halliday’s entire fortune. After five long years of searching many people have given up. Until one day in 2045, Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly, the game is on again. And there are many who are willing to kill to win the ultimate prize.
At first, I found it hard to get into the story. To me, the storyline seemed a bit shallow. The goal of the characters was monetary – something that seems to be of less importance than other things in life. In addition, about ninety percent of this book takes place inside the OASIS. Reading about characters inside a virtual reality is not very exciting because what is happening to the characters inside of it is not really happening to them outside of it. The dangers in the OASIS do not actually threaten Wade in real life. If he dies in the OASIS, he is still alive outside of it. In other words, the stakes are not that high.
It took me a while to get used to the setting of Ready Player One, but once I did, I was able to enjoy it much more. Although I prefer to read stories that take place in reality – not a virtual reality –, I found the setting of this book to be quite interesting, as it is different from anything I have ever read before. Reading this book can sometimes be like playing a video game. There are also many references to different video games, movies, and the pop culture of the 1980s. For the videogamers out there, this might be the perfect book for you.
Each planet’s appearance in the OASIS has some basis in either a video game or a part of Halliday’s childhood. I like how Cline used this to create variety in this virtual reality that could otherwise become monotonous. Instead of a common theme for all the planets, each of them had a unique look. I also think that the clues and riddles that lead to the egg were cleverly thought out, but the reader wouldn’t be able to solve them. In order to crack them, the reader must have mastery of video games and 1980s pop culture as well as extensive knowledge of Halliday’s childhood, which is fictional.
I would recommend this book for older readers. It contains lots of profanities and other strong language that would not be appropriate for young readers. Because most of the characters are only slightly older than teenagers, much of the language they use is what many teenagers are accustomed to now. There are also some sexual references related to physical pleasure in chapter 19. Ready Player One does not contain any particular literary benefit or important moral lessons, and I would not categorize it as a must-read. However, it is entertaining and suitable for passing time.