Ready Player One is a story that revolves around Wade Watts, a young adult who lives in the apocalyptic world of 2045 Oklahoma City. As an ongoing Energy Crisis continues throughout the world, everyone turns to one method to escape: The OASIS. Essentially, the OASIS is a virtual-reality game that is fully immersive, allowing a person to experience a virtual universe as if it was reality. The game is so appealing because of it’s incredibly cheap price (of one cent), as well as the ability to go anywhere anyone would want. However, perhaps the most appealing aspect of the game is the ability to turn into anyone you wanted. Wade views himself as an overweight, ugly teenager. However, in the OASIS, he is Parzival, a handsome, fit young man. In the novel, the creator of the OASIS, James Donovan Halliday, dies, leaving a massive fortune left for a successor. However, Halliday never had relatives, meaning that no one would inherit his amassed wealth of over half a trillion dollars. However, Halliday secretly created a contest, where whoever could find an “easter egg” through a series of clues would inherit his entire fortune as well as the ability to control the OASIS. Of course, everyone in the world scrambles to find this egg, and soon, the world is devoting all of it’s time and energy to this cause. However, after many years of failure to find the first clue, excitement dies down and everyone returns to the regular pains of daily life. Everyone except Parzival. Using clues found in a poem, Parzival “plays” Dungeons of Daggorath, a relatively unknown videogame, as well as role-playing out a character’s part in the movie Wargames, allowing him to acquire a key that eventually will assist him in acquiring the egg. Being the only person to ever accomplish this feat, the world quickly takes notice, and the mad scramble to find clues begins again. However, this eventually goes south as a power hungry corporation known as IOI begins to take interest Parzival, and begins to take steps to exploit the contest for their own benefit. However, Parzival is not alone. With his online friends, Aech and Art3mis (who eventually complete the first challenge), he attempts to find the second clue. However, it seemingly is impossible. After months of worthless scrutiny, Wade forgets about the contest, and instead, focuses his attention on socialization. Instead after chasing after his lifelong goal, Wade descends into the depths of advertising and corporate business, all bent on the prospect of using him as a marketing tool.
This book was a gripping story and in many ways, a page turner. It always kept the reader engaged and immersed in the book. Perhaps the book’s best foot is the room that it leaves a reader to explore. Instead of providing incredibly rich description, the book takes a different approach by creating just enough description to allow a reader to imagine a scene in their own light. This made the novel very dynamic and interesting, as I was almost creating my own world in my head from what I was reading.
However, the most frustrating and weak point of the book is the amount of references to pop culture. “At first, I thought the neglected dwelling might be a reference to Revenge of the Nerds, one of Halliday’s favorite films. In that movie, the nerds of the title rent a dilapidated house and fix it up (during a classic ’80s music montage). I visited a re-creation of the Revenge of the Nerds house on the planet Skolnick and spent a day searching it, but it proved to be a dead end.” (321) Excerpt From: Ernest Cline. “Ready Player One.” The problem with the book was the amount and variety of references that existed, much of it to movies, books, and video games I have never heard of. It was hard to grasp at times what point Cline was trying to make when tying his book to another media, enough so that I had to do research on my own to decipher what part of each media was being referred to. This grew very tiring and lengthy, as I always had to search for a specific cutscene, sentence, or obscure fact. At least to me, this felt a bit excessive, especially since the majority of the population reading this novel most likely does not know such a variety of pop culture.
Overall, I would give this book a 8.5/10, at least so far. It certainly is a different book, enough so that I would classify it as a breath of fresh air compared to other books that we have read. I recommend it to anyone who is excited at the prospect of a good mystery and a thrilling story, but otherwise, it may be too much trouble to research about random movies on Reddit in you’re free time.