What a ride! This became the perfect book to bring me back to that rhythm of reading after my very long hiatus.
Prior to me reading this book I had doubts if I will enjoy it because based on what I heard, the story revolves around video games. And I myself, who is not a fan and has little knowledge of video games (that is computer models, new and old video games and old model gaming consoles), I thought that will be a deterrence for me to fully appreciate this book. But man, I was wrong. I was totally wrong. I found myself totally immersed to this world that Ernest Cline created. I found myself totally having fun with the story though I might say having knowledge to the video games mentioned in the story and some pop culture references would totally add more delight while reading this novel. Because if me who’s has 0 to none understanding about video games or arcade games enjoyed this book, what more those who have a lot of knowledge about such category.
The book follows the story of Wade Watts, in a dystopian 2044 world. The problems of the world reached its zenith. Overpopulation, poverty, the economy plummeting, energy crisis and global warming is what the world is facing. With these issues, to escape reality, people turn to the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). OASIS is a virtual reality simulator that serves as both a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) and a virtual society where its member can interact. People go to OASIS to escape the real world behind. People used it from simple activities such as attending school and shopping to as complex as conquering worlds and doing quests to increase gain experience which translates to a virtual money that they can used in purchasing items in the virtual world.
The games was invented by multi-billionaire James Halliday who, when he died, had announced in his will that he had left an Easter egg inside OASIS, and the first person to find it would inherit his entire fortune and the corporation. Thus the story of high school student Wade Watts begins, when after five years from the announcement, when nobody has thought the game was unsolvable, he became the first one to discover one of the three keys that needs to be collected to obtain the treasure.
“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. 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
Orphan Wade Watts lives in poverty stricken Oklahoma City the year 2044. The day that the hunt for the Easter egg started he spends his spare time as a “gunter” (“egg hunter”), logging on to the OASIS with his avatar under the name Parzival. He familiarize himself with everything connected to Halliday: reading the Anorak’s Almanac (named after Hallida’s avatar) which includes journal entries from Halliday’s personal life that includes all his interest in various video games, films, music, and pop culture references of the 1980’s, watching all movies, playing all the video games and reading all the books mentioned in the book.
The incident caused Nolan Sorrento, head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (IOI), to notice him, which is a multinational corporation bent on taking control of the OASIS and monetizing it through a well-funded effort to find the Easter Egg. Sorrento offered Wade Wade to join IOI, but knowing IOI’s evil intentions, Wade refused. Wade’s refusal caused his world to turn upside down. All hell broke loose as the search for the three keys intensified with Wade’s determination to be the first to get all the keys and change how the world uses the OASIS.
Along the way, in the world of OASIS, Wade met friends, from competitors turning friends. Their avatar names include Aech who’s Wade’s best friend in OASIS; Art3mis, who’s a famous female gunter and blogger and who Wade has a huge cyber-crush and; Daito and Shoto, Japanese gunters who work as a team. Together it became a battler of manipulation and battle of the minds searching and answering clues and developing strategies in solving every game. Friendships were tested, trust and loyalty were measured, allegiances happened and sacrifices were made. Prepare for some great suspense as identities of some of the characters secret are revealed in the end.
The storytelling is commendable in this book. This book is like a trivia book that while you read it provides facts about the history of video games. And you know me, I like novels that add trivia in the story line. The author was able to incorporate those facts to the story without me feeling that there’s information overload. The author was able to weave both the fiction world and the real world perfectly. I remember reading The Martian by Andy Weir which is another science fiction book that has the same approach as this this novel. You know adding real facts and figures to their fiction world. I like it when authors do that. I like it when I learn new things from their novel without me feeling like I am reading a college textbook. It’s like hitting two birds in one stone. I guess that can be used by our educators as an approach in teaching a subject in school. Students learn while at the same time they are also enhancing their ability to read. The book also incorporated humor here and there which made the flow easy-going and the story even more engaging.
“Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.”
― Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
Another praiseworthy aspect of this book is its narration. This is not a short book. Well that’s for my standards (Hahah). I thought it will take me time to finish this book considering that it’s been a while since I read a novel again and this is a science fiction book which to be honest intimidates me sometime because I’m bad with descriptions and that part is what usually what makes a scifi book good. A good scifi book for me must be able to successfully introduce the world that he created for the reader to visualize it in his mind. But for me I tend to lose it when I am given this kilometric descriptions of a complex world and just dumps all the details in one go. My tendency is that it takes me sometime to immerse myself to the story and I have to reread those parts multiple times. The good thing about this book is that the author introduces the world slowly and in parts. I did not feel that the author was rushing things. It’s not like, “ok I will provide you all the details now in one go, then I will just go to the story”.
As for characterization, the author also did a good job. He was able to build the main characters background in a way that you will root for him towards the ending. Wade is this geeky dude and an underdog in the game. His innate resourcefulness and determination are his main tools in the story. Though I might say that how I wish the other characters were also provided some background. I would’ve appreciated it if the other members of the “High Five” were given a chapter of each to be introduced and be given a background. I wouldn’t mind the book being a little bit longer because of that.
Overall, this book is a delight. I was totally immersed to this “realistic” future world that the author created. If I have not convinced you yet to read this book,I don’t know what else will (kidding). I am blaming myself for not reading this book the moment I got my hands on a copy. I have this book for like ages now and it keeps being pushed down on my to-be-read pile. If it’s not for the release of it’s movie adaption I would’ve not read this book. Shame. Speaking of it’s movie adaptation, I was able to finally watch it over the weekends. And man, it was also good. My thoughts about it will be posted soon. There’s a new that the author is writing a sequel, and I am not sure as to how it will work because the ending of this book is already perfect for me. Let’s wait and see.
This book provides a thought-provoking idea of how our world would eventually end up. With the advent of new technology, it’s not hard to imagine that the world in Ready Player One would eventually become a reality. Every person retreating into a digital world to escape the world’s problems.
5 stars out of 5.
Author: Ernest Cline
Release Year: June 2012
Publisher: Broadway Books
No. of Pages: 374 pages
About the Author:
Ernest Cline is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. His second novel, ARMADA, debuted at #4 on the NYT Bestseller list and is being made into a film by Universal Pictures. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games. (Goodreads)