Ernest Cline – Ready Player One

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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?

There’s a lot of books that have to deal with a virtual reality, and suffice it to say, Ready Player One is probably one of the most well-written ones out there. After joining the book community on the interwebs, I’ve seen this book almost everywhere with such praise. So I finally got a copy from BookOutlet and read through it in two days. I even read it at school throughout Spanish, Chemistry, and finally finished it at my AP Euro test. That dedication though.

There’s a lot of information Wade has to dump for readers to understand throughout the book, but I didn’t find anything implausible or hard to follow. Two words to describe the setting: Nerd Central. And get this – the nerdiest of them all is the winner. Video games are Wade’s life. Scratch that – anything in the 80’s is his life. (They know more about the 80’s than me.) This has to be true, if you’re trying to find the prize placed in OASIS creator James Halliday’s virtual network. If you’ve ever played a videogame, it’s like the hidden prizes that players usually have to use a walkthrough to find (unless they’re super hardcore.) Millions of people are in the world trying to find that prize, which is owning OASIS (Halliday’s company) and his entire fortune.

The OASIS is a nerd’s dream come true. You can build your avatar however you like and your personal information is kept private. Want to be an elf? So be it. An android? Why not. A normal human with your own features? Done. Not only that, but OASIS is composed of many planets which you can use technology or magic or both or neither on. Children are raised under this virtual network. If you’re not up for gaming you can still shop in the virtual network and customize your avatar, meet new people, party, and do all sorts of crazy stuff. The usual problems I have with virtual reality games aren’t dominant in this book. For one, the book actually addresses the situation going on in the outside world (or the real world, I should say). We know that right now there’s an energy crisis and the author keeps us updated on the increase of poverty and unemployment.

The 80’s references may really appeal to people who could understand them. When they got to the anime stuff, it put a smile on my face thinking of those dark times of my life. (Nah I’m still an otaku at heart. Maybe.)
I really liked how they were included, but I felt as if more could have been done with it. How did the obsession with the 80’s that stemmed from Harriday affect the rest of the world, other than learning about it? Did people try to copy the fashion? What did the government think about its influence? And what exactly was Harriday’s reason in making it such a large deal, except for the fact that it was the time period he grew up in? If that concept was elaborated more to include more long-standing effects on the society, I feel as if it would have had more of an impact.

The Started from the Bottom by Drake defines Wade Watt’s life. He lives in a trailer stacked upon a trailer stacked upon dozens of other trailers (that were made to save space in the city). At first Wade uses a laptop he fixed himself after finding it in the trash. When he starts finding the hidden keys that unlock the coveted prize, however, the dough comes rolling in. A once penniless nerd becomes the gamer that everyone wants to be. From then on we see him hiding from reality in a virtual trap he makes for himself. But not everything in the virtual world stays in the virtual world. Pretty soon, lives are on the line and death is something that can happen, no matter how well you think you’re protected.

Want to know if Wade manages to find the hidden prize in the game or if he gets killed? Read the book!

Rating: 4/5

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