Things I knew about Ready Player One before I started reading it…
– It takes place in the future
– Something about video games or something
– 80’s references
– Everyone loves it
I was very curious to see how all these things would play out together.
In the year 2044, the real world is in a dire place, but many people escape via OASIS, the basically free virtual reality simulation. One of the creators of OASIS, James Halliday, died a few years before our story begins, and in his will he degrees that his fortunes shall be left with whoever is able to find the “Easter egg” he embedded within his creation. After years of searching though, no one has even been able to uncover the first of the three keys that are essential in finding the egg. When down-on-his-luck Wade Watts finds the first key, everything changes.
This really was a very interesting read. The world-building was great, though we were occasionally given big info dumps, they were still more fascinating than annoying. I really felt like I understood the world of OASIS as well as I could, and I could see the appeal of OASIS, but also its pitfalls. I also found the idea of subcultures within OASIS interesting, but we pretty much only see that of the gunters, those on hunt for Halliday’s egg, like our MC Wade Watts.
Wade was not the most likable character, which was a little difficult for me at times since being a character-driven reader. I was able to sympathize with him, as he had a cruddy home life and he was loyal to his friends (all two of them), but he and I would definitely never be friends. His worldview is so vastly different from mine and early on in the book, when Wade went on a tagent I thought the book as a whole would suffer for it (at least for me personally) because I was afraid it was part of an agenda by the author. But it never felt that way again throughout the book, and Wade grew on me somewhat… though I still would not be his friend. And besides, he grew up in a vastly different way than I did, and idolized everything James Halliday did. I can’t expect him to think or act like me.
I liked some of the secondary characters better, especially Art3mis, who was definitely my favorite. Though she certainly wasn’t perfect either. I liked Aech fairly well too, and it was really fun meeting Ogden.
Even though I am not a gamer, I did find all the gaming aspects of the book interesting and fun (though tiring to think about! I could never get into it to the extent that Wade did). All the sci-fi and 80’s references in OASIS (which are there because Halliday incorporated them) were fun too, even if I didn’t understand all of them completely.
There were a lot of good twists in the story as well; I was frequently surprised. When I thought the story was going one direction it would suddenly turn and go somewhere else, so it always felt fresh. I really appreciated that.
The world within OASIS and outside of it felt largely realistic (though the outside world was sadly quite grim and I really hope it’s not so bad by 2044), though the timeline quickly feels outdated with OASIS said to be announced in 2014, AKA this year. I was shocked to read that, considering this book was just published in 2011. Still, I could see something like OASIS existing in the not too distant future.
Overall this book has such an interesting premise and story, and I would definitely recommend it, but I do have one very big complaint, and that is some of the content, primarily language. I generally try to stay away from books with strong language, so this book had more f-bombs than I was bargaining for. The absolute worst was when Wade told someone to go f a duck, which is not even remotely funny if you’ve read Unbroken, and I’ll just leave it at that. For most people though, it probably won’t be too bad, at least the words were fairly spread out, and thankfully not too many of these words were being strung together in one sentence. Also, Wade spends a brief amount of time talking about masturbation, and while it doesn’t get graphic, it’s still uncomfortable and really quite unnecessary.
I had to consider the content factor and the less likable main character in my rating, but overall the story was so original and intriguing, and the book had a great closing line, so giving it 4 stars feels just right to me.