Not long ago, my husband, my brother, and I decided to go to a local barcade (bar + arcade) on a lazy Saturday, and let me tell you: it was so much fun! Coupling our favorite games from childhood with some grown-up beverages? What could be better?! There is no feeling quite like the rush of adrenaline when those infamous words flash on the screen: “READY PLAYER ONE.“ Naturally, when I saw this as the title to a book by Ernest Cline (soon to be a major motion picture release), that spike in adrenaline and excitement returned, so I had to get my hands on a copy
After five long years, the Copper Key had finally been found, by an eighteen-year-old kid living in a trailer park on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. That kid was me. Dozens of books, cartoons, movies, and miniseries have attempted to tell the story of everything that happened next, but every single one of them got it wrong. So I want to set the record straight, once and for all.
–Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
Originally published in 2011, Ready Player One takes place in a (should I say terrifyingly) not too distant future in the year 2045 where the world is on the brink of (if not already in) total chaos. Fortunately, inhabitants have an escape, a virtual world called OASIS, created by James Halliday. When Halliday dies, a contest known as The Hunt is revealed: the first person to find the hidden Easter Egg in the OASIS will inherit Halliday’s fortune (over $200 billion!). For five years, no one makes any progress until Wade Watts/Parzival, a teenager living with his aunt in a trailer park in Oklahoma City.
Ready Player One is part suspense/thriller, part dystopian science fiction, part love story and completely addictive. The story was so well written that I could see the trailers stack on top of each other, the avatars sitting in their class rooms to complete their classwork (side note: I need more of that in my online classes). It came to life right before my eyes. I will say, however, while you don’t need to have prior knowledge of the references to enjoy the book, I do believe that this knowledge made me that much more invested. Just brush up on your general knowledge of Joust, Dungeons and Dragons, Pac Man, and Schoolhouse Rock, and you should be good to go!
One of my favorite parts of the entire story, however, was dealing with how online presences differ from interpersonal interactions. Wade kicks off by saying that he modeled his avatar to be just like him…except a slightly smaller nose, slightly more muscular, better skin with less acne (but other than that they look the same. In addition, some of the other characters were not exactly what you would have guessed. In this day and age, where everyone’s lives are seen through a filter in an Instagram-worthy feed, it’s so powerful to have characters that explicitly acknowledge that what you see online isn’t necessarily what you’ll get in reality. I especially loved how through the lens of virtual reality, we were able to see the characters in regards to their personality, not just assigned roles based on their physical appearance.
That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.
-Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
In short, I absolutely loved this book. If you enjoy dystopian science fiction and countless pop culture references, you will love Ready Player One. Read it before it hits theaters March 28 (and join me in reminding everyone how much better the book always is than the movie)! Thank you so much to Blogging for Books for providing me a copy of this book. It is truly an honor to provide my honest thoughts and opinions.