Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5
The year is 2044, and the world is…well, let’s just say it’s a depressing place you wouldn’t really want to live. Luckily for Earth’s denizens, they can escape to OASIS, a massive virtual reality in which people spend most of their time. Wade Watts is a teenager who attends school in OASIS. His greatest dream? To solve the puzzle that OASIS’ creator, James Halliday, left behind. Halliday was a reclusive eccentric obsessed with the 1980s, and anyone who solves the puzzle will inherit Halliday’s vast fortune. Wade devotes himself to figuring out the clues Halliday left behind in OASIS, but he doesn’t expect danger to be following him at every turn.
Ready Player One is perhaps one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and that’s saying something. It’s also incredibly difficult to review and do it justice because there is so much going on within its pages. Let’s start with Wade. He’s a nobody, just some teenage kid living in a trailer park with no means or way to get ahead in life. All he has is his brain, his wit, and his ardent desire to improve his lot in life. From the very first page, readers will absolutely love Wade, and his creativity and intelligence will impress readers over and over again.
If you have little familiarity with the 1980s, then you may not truly grasp the magic of Ready Player One. It’s full of obscure trivia and random references to the pop culture of the decade. It really gives the reader a way to identify with the story, which is great since it’s set in a dismal future. Again and again, Cline delights the reader with 80s culture, from video games to movies to music.
The story of Ready Player One is basically a treasure hunt, with little Wade working on his own against the goliath, trying to solve Halliday’s last puzzle. Cline keeps the novel moving at a wonderful pace; readers won’t have a spare second to be bored or wonder what is going to happen next as they race through this book. It’s perfectly plotted and Cline keeps the twists and turns coming as the novel progresses. It’s wonderful to root Wade on as he becomes an adventurer, and it’s a lot of fun to try and solve the puzzles along with the main character.
Ready Player One has a complex story and countless different elements, and they really shouldn’t work. With any other author, this would be a jumbled mess that readers wouldn’t be able to decipher. But Cline’s genius is in bringing these disparate elements together so seamlessly that they make up an amazing, thoughtful, wondrous novel that will have readers riveted from beginning to end.