This had been sitting on my ‘Shelf of Shame’ for so long waiting to be picked up and i cannot believe i did not do it earlier. I loved this book and read it in a day as i just could not put it down. ‘Ready Player One’ is a book that is very relevant today, with the growing popularity and developments in VR. It is also just an amazing book by Ernest Cline.
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.
I don’t know why it took me so long to just pick up this book and read it-when i did i blazed through it in a day or so as i just could not put it down. ‘Ready Player One’ is a book about something we have been dreaming of ever since the emergence of the modern video game-virtual reality. And as we are getting closer to developing the VR that integrates seamlessly into our modern lives, we still dream of being able to immerse ourselves into video games or into an alternate reality fully. While that seems like something wonderful, i am sure it will be, there are some hidden dangers (as expected) and we come to terms with the actual reality and consequences of this way of life in ‘Ready Player One.’
We see the book through the eyes of Wade Watts, an average teenager who lives most of his life inside OASIS, the virtual world that is for the majority of the world, their reality. He meets his friends inside the game, goes to school and escapes from the world that is struggling with climate change, war, poverty and over population. The driving thing in his life is the hunt for the Easter Egg the OASIS creator left that promised whoever found it his inheritance-millions of dollars and ownership of OASIS. As a ‘Gunter’ Wade dedicates his life to finding this egg-immersing himself within OASIS, studying 80s pop-culture (something that the Halliday was obsessed with and references many times in his memoirs and in the OASIS itself) hoping that he decrypt the clue that was left by Halliday in a video released with his death that would lead to the first of the three keys to open the three gates to find the Egg.
There were so many twists and turns throughout the book, slowly building up to a climactic and exciting ending. The 80s pop-culture references throughout gave the book a light hearted feel which contrasts with the darker aspects of the plot. Wade is an introverted and socially inept individual that lives his life dedicated to Halliday and the OASIS, to the point where he becomes a hermit, staying inside for months at a time with no human contact apart from within OASIS and is committed to finding the Egg. His only friendships and relationships he has are with people in OASIS, people he has never met, doesn’t really know and who can double cross him once they realise he is on top of the ladder board and may have insights into the clues to find the next key or open the next gate.
The book just does not only focus on the negatives of this type of technology and ‘social media’. It facilitates mass education for all allowing ‘equal’ opportunity for schooling, as well as providing countless jobs and a new and immersive form of entertainment. It really is the dream-being able to walk in the Lord of The Rings, be a wizard in Harry Potter or play the leading role in a movie or television show. And it does create friendships that are meaningful and important, which the friendship between Wade, Art3mis and Aech is. The reveal of who they are behind there avatars is probably my favourite part of the book-that and the opening scene of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ playing a crucial part in the quest for the Egg.
There is never a dull moment in ‘Ready Player One’. It plays on a fantasy that all of us have had, the development of an immersive VR that we can escape into. Very much like Sword Art Online, this technology is not all that good and inevitably leads to problems both within the real and virtual worlds. With a plot that keeps you guessing and characters that you fall in love with it is a new and interesting take on virtual reality and the modern dystopia.