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Cline Creates an Amazing Virtual World in ‘Ready Player One’

Valerija Prohorenkova, Staff

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This is a spoiler-free review of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 

In a world nearly destroyed by climate change, the entire world chooses to plug into the “OASIS”: a Virtual Reality world, where anything is possible. When the creator, James Halliday, dies, he leaves behind a massive hunt for his $5 billion fortune. The twist? Halliday, obsessed with the nerd culture of the 80s, made the entire hunt based off of a mix of pop culture and obscure references to the movies, video games, TV shows, and music of the 80s.

 

The book picks up with Wade Wilson – otherwise known by his anonymous alias “Parzival” in the OASIS – telling the story about how he was the first person, five years after Halliday’s death, to figure out the first clue.

 

I went into this book with very little prior knowledge about it, but having picked it up (and subsequently put it back down) every time I’d walked into a bookstore, I decided to finally give it a try.

 

Now, a book that’s schtick is its dozens of references to a pop culture that you probably don’t know anything about may turn off many readers. Cline handles this situation well, however, by providing explanations of the origins of nearly everything that’s mentioned. For example, a game that is referenced near the very beginning called Adventure has the main character explain (through narration) what the goal of the game is, as well as its “crude graphics”, and its mechanics. This, and other such instances of additional explanation, makes the book much more accessible to a younger generation, and that much more enjoyable because you actually understand what’s going on.

 

The overall best thing about this book would have to be its plot (and the execution of it). It kept me eager to know how Wade was going to solve the next clue, and what subsequent adventure he would go on.

 

My main grievance with Ready Player One, however, lies in its characters. The main character, Wade, is generally unlikable and awkward. In the context of the book, this makes sense. I mean, it’s easy to become a loser when you spend your entire life camped out in a van and plugged into a world that isn’t real. Wade spends his spare time browsing through the things that Halliday loved from his childhood – old games, shows, and movies. This makes him a super-nerd, with enough knowledge to participate in this worldwide hunt for Halliday’s fortune.

 

Out of all of his friends in the OASIS, Aech (the first one we are introduced to) is my favorite. Wade’s crush on another one of the characters, Art3mis, is awkward and borderline obsessive, and the beginning of their eventual relationship is very forced and uncomfortable. The writing of her character is also very distinctly “perfect girl gamer who never gets in the way and is super hot and funny (and unrealistic)”. God forbid a girl exists in fiction that just wants to play a videogame for the sake of the game.

 

Overall, I would recommend this book. Once you get past the characters, there are genuinely interesting scenes and situations that draw you in. Wade Wilson, despite his character flaws, is entertaining to read. And there’s quite the unexpected ending – if you’re like me, you might be jumping out of your seat at the hype.

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Cline Creates an Amazing Virtual World in ‘Ready Player One’