Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
May 4, 2012 16 Comments
This book was on the shortlist for the Indie Lit Awards in the Speculative Fiction genre. I read it because I was in the jury for this genre, which was a pleasure to do! (And actually, I wanted to read it anyway, not just for the awards). Oh, and the book won!
I enjoyed this book all the way through. Although it is set in the future, it was like I was reading something real, that was happening now.
Ready Player One: What it is about
Wade Watts, 18 years old, lives in a trailer on top of many more trailers. He is living with his awful aunt and is very poor. He spends most of his time in a van on a junk yard. There are junk yards with piles of cars everywhere, because petrol cars cannot be used anymore as there is not enough petrol left in the world.
In the van, Wade logs into OASIS to go to school. This is a huge online system. With some special glasses and gloves on, it feels as if he really is present at school, or playing online games after school hours. Wade is especially interested in finding a treasure, that has been left in the system by the inventor of OASIS, John Halliday, as a legacy after his death. Many people have tried to find it but so far no one has ever found even the first of three hidden keys.
Wade, however, does manage to find the first key and his online friends (or people that will become his friends) follow suit. But the Sixes are also after the keys. They are a large group of organised people who will do anything to find the treasure. They pressure Wade to tell them where the first key is as there will be severe repercussions if he doesn’t comply.
Bit by bit Wade discovers more clues to the prize, but has to fight off the Sixes at the same time.
There are a lot of references to old computer games and movies (from the 1980 especially), many of which Wade has to play with a perfect score in order to get closer to the keys.
Ready Player One: What I thought
I loved this book so much! I thought it was fantastic. From the description you might think this book is for computer geeks and it is. But it’s also for people that have an average interest in computer games.
I was totally immersed in the book while I was reading it. When I wasn’t reading, it was as if this acquaintance of mine, Wade Watts, was somewhere out there fighting a difficult battle. Only when I finished the book, and the issues were resolved, was I able to let go of the story.
It was a dystopian story in which the big corporation that the Sixes were working for, was in charge of most of what happened in the country, with lots of people working for them in a kind of slavery situation. Wade Watts is determined to undermine them and gets himself in dangerous situations to achieve this.
The world building could have been a bit more comprehensive. At times I felt I was looking through a tube, seeing Wade and his actions, but not really having a good idea what the rest of the world might look like and what its people were doing. This didn’t matter much, as the pace of the book was high and there was little time to stop and reflect on such matters.
My favorite moment was when Wade is in OASIS looking for a key and finds himself in a movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and discovers that he is a character in this movie. He has to (and can, as he has seen the movie many times) reproduce the exact dialogue of his character at exactly the right time. If he passes through the complete movie with few errors, he will be allowed to go to the next level of the search for the treasure. What a brilliant idea!
This is an absolutely wonderful book if you like science fiction-type books. A little computergames-geekyness doesn’t hurt, but even without that, this makes a great read.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I got this book: for review from Crown publishers for the Indie Lit Awards.
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 363
First published: 2011
Genre: science fiction
Extra: An interview with Ernest Cline, after winning the Indie Lit Awards