"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline | Book Review
And now for something completely different... OK, not completely, but it has been almost two months since my last book review so maybe you guys have forgotten that I do these from time to time. I've actually finished Ready Player One at the end of July, but somehow never got around to doing a review until now. I have almost considered not doing one at all at this point, but this book is just too good to keep quiet about it. It's a sci-fi slightly dystopian adventure filled with nerdy references, sarcasm, unexpected drama and even some romance. Sounds like fun? That's because it is!
The story happens in the not-so-distant future, year 2044, in the time of quickly dwindling natural resources, poverty, violence—you know, our usual bright prospects. Within the first pages we find out about the death of James Halliday, an 80s-obsessed billionaire video game designer who created OASIS—an MMO virtual reality game that has pretty much taken over the world: from escapism to school and work this game is where the majority of people spend their time. James Halliday has hidden an easter egg somewhere within the huge world inside the game and whoever can find it first will inherit his entire fortune. At this point it has been 5 years since his death and nobody has been able to make any kind of progress, until our protagonist Wade Watts (known in the OASIS as Parzival) stumbles upon the first part of the puzzle and things start getting a bit crazy.
Now, I was a bit intimidated at first because I knew this book was going to be full of pop culture references, particularly from the 80s. As someone who grew up in the 90s (the best decade that ever was or will be) I was worried I wouldn't get the references and therefore not enjoy or understand the book, but I was wrong. First of all, I was surprised how much of them made sense to me simply because I've played video games, watched movies and heard some 80s music. But more importantly, not knowing the exact reference doesn't take away from the story in any way. Yes, knowing exactly what the author is talking about will make the book even more fun, but not knowing doesn't take away from the plot or the world—it just reads as a virtual fantasy world because Ernest Cline does an outstanding job setting the scene time after time.
I loved the characters because I felt like they were real people with distinct voices. Even though the story is told from first person POV, it was still easy to sense almost everyone's personality. I also really enjoyed the subtle messages this book managed to get through. I found it interesting that my attitude towards the OASIS changed throughout the book—my point of view grew along with the characters as I went from thinking "this is awesome" to "I would probably be addicted" to "it's probably a good thing we don't have this" and so on. The only thing I wished there was more of is the world outside the OASIS: most of the story takes place within the virtual reality and I was getting curious about how bad was it in the real world. But that's really a minor complaint and I'm still giving this book a 5 out of 5.
OK, I have a confession: I didn't actually read Ready Player One. Yes, I bought the hardcover to add to my collection, but I listened to it on Audible, narrated by Wil Wheaton, and guys: you MUST listen to it! Wil Wheaton is the most intense and engaging reader I have ever heard. EVER. He is brilliant and I sure hope he will narrate more books. I'm all for physical books and I like turning pages as much as any other bookworm, but why would you read something when you can listen to Wil Wheaton act it out for you?
This is a book I recommend to everyone, and I will keep recommending it until everyone I know reads (listens to) it. I have written this review, which I don't think is a short one, and yet I feel like I've barely even started to explain why Ready Player One is so great. You're just going to have to find out for yourself.
And for those who have read it: can we PLEASE make Flicksyncs a real thing?!