It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty and disease are widespread.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be , where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality; OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based on Halliday’s obsession with 80’s pop culture. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.
To say I enjoyed this book would be the understatement of the century, I absolutely LOVED it and sat there in complete awe once I turned the last page. You know when you get so utterly immersed in a book and you don’t want it to end? That’s exactly how I felt whilst reading Ready Player One. Way before I finished it, I knew I could already class it as one of my favourite books I’ve read this year if not all time but I can’t gush enough about it so if you can’t tell already, this is going to be a glowing review.
The entire concept of the novel was the most engaging and exciting thing to me and what convinced me to read it. The possibilities of a virtual reality are truly endless and so much fiction is devoted to exploring how such a platform or experience would work. In Ready Player One however, it’s all taken to another level entirely with people living entire lives inside the Oasis, even going to school, falling in love and travelling to different planets through the incredibly immersive software. There are basically no limits, with everyone being able to create avatars, create their own worlds, complete quests and SO much more. I have to say, it was all so well explained and described that it sounded pretty amazing and super appealing. It also raises some important discussions about the Internet as it is currently and our usage of it. If escapism through media is already so prevalent, imagine if the Oasis or a VR platform like it, was real? It really does make you think what life and the world as we know it would be like.
As well as the incredible technology explored within the novel, I found the whole quest to solve Hallidays riddles and win his fortune to be such a delight to read. It was exhilarating to follow Wade as he desperately tries to crack the codes and progress in the search, as well as outwit his rivals, or fellow ‘Gunters’ as they’re referred to in the novel. Wade is an entertaining and relatable protagonist and I grew to like him more and more as the story progressed. He starts out as an insecure teen whose happiness relies on the Oasis, due to a depressing reality but as the story progresses we see his perspective and priorities shift and see his confidence grow. I always have a soft spot for the underdog so the journey Wade took was so satisfying.
As well as Wade, there were the secondary characters – who are still integral to the story – who I also really liked; Art3mis, Aech, Shoto and Daito. Each character had a distinct voice and were well developed to me and I liked that they didn’t need entire chapters dedicated to them, in order for me to grow attached to them. It’s a skilled writer that can show glimpses of characters with minimal exposition and still make us want to see more of them.
At the risk of sounding cliche, oh who am I kidding, I’m a total cliched millennial and I don’t care who knows it. I’m a massive nerd and a fan of 80’s pop culture so this novel was a treasure trove of references, suggestions and information overload on the era – in the best way possible. The mastermind of the OASIS, James Halliday, was utterly obsessed with the 80’s and this really reflects in both the platform he created as well as his epic quest. While I was familiar with the majority of the movies that are mentioned in the novel, I was less familiar with the video games so it was pretty cool and fun for me to find out so much through the course of the story. I realise that for some readers the excess of references and name dropping here and there might have got irritating or felt unnecessary, and I can see where they would be coming from, but I have to say it didn’t bother me at all. Perhaps this is because I just love learning new information and when it’s in a fictional format, I find it way easier to digest and it helps that I already have an interest in it.
Overall, I had such a great experience reading Ready Player One and it’s been a while since I’ve loved a book this intensely. Although I do read a lot of books and I do rate them highly, there’s only a select few which make it through to my holy grail list of books and this one is definitely up there. As you can tell by my review, I can’t recommend this book highly enough and would encourage fans of sci fi, fantasy and pop culture in general to pick this up and give it a read, you will not be disappointed. (I hope!)
★★★★★ – 5 Star Rating
Until next time,