Jason Kane's Reviews > Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read April 4, 2018 to April 9, 2018.

This was one of the coolest books I’ve read in years. It hits the sweet spot between geek-chic and epic adventure. Ready Player One is author Ernest Cline’s story of Wade Watts, a high school student living in Oklahoma City, OK in the year 2044. Energy and environmental crises have rendered the world mostly back to the stone age with petroleum-fuel a thing of the past and poverty running rampant. One advancement has managed to proliferate through the classes however, and that’s the Online virtual world known as the Oasis. The Oasis is a place where everyone can escape their reality by entering a virtual space where they can be anyone and do nearly anything. All you have to do is log on to the Oasis, invent your avatar, and you’re in.

The Oasis is mostly an entertainment device, but it does serve many practical purposes as well. With the infrastructure of the real world crumbling, the Oasis has become a place of commerce, communication, and even education. Cline’s concept of Oasis Public School is singularly brilliant. All schools are monumental cathedrals of learning. No constraints of money or even physics, and there’s an emphasis on the “safety” of this as opposed to the normal school experience.

The Oasis is the biggest thing in the world and it has made its creator, James Halliday, a trillioniare. However, Halliday takes ill, and with no heir or even true friend to designate his belongings, he releases a statement that he has hidden an Easter egg, or hidden object, deep within the Oasis. Whoever is first to find the egg will inherit everything.

Wade, under his avatar Parzival is one such egg hunter, known in the book as a “gunter,” a highly problematic term, if you ask me. This sets up an episodic adventure where Parzival travels through the Oasis searching for clues to lead him to various keys that help him unlock gates that will eventually lead him to the egg. This plot design is not unlike the fourth installment of the Harry Potter series, The Goblet of Fire where characters must discover clues to solve various tasks in order to move forward. The catch is that in order to really play the game Halliday has laid out, it helps to know Halliday the man, which is to say you’d better know your 1980s pop culture, music, movies, and video games.

Ready Player One offers a well-articulated argument for the appeal of video games beyond the clichéd and superficial escapist entertainment quality. It also makes a case for danger to progress video games pose regarding the distraction from reality that they create. This conflict puts the reader in an interesting state of mind where on one hand, I want to read more about the journey to find the egg, but on the other hand, I want to know more about the characters and who they are.

The antagonist of the novel comes in the form of Nolan Sorrento, the head of Innovative Online Industries, who wants to inherit and monetize the Oasis. Sorrento hires players to search for the egg on his behalf in exchange for suiting up their avatars with the best suits, armors, weapons, credits, and access possible. These sell-out gamers come to be known as “sixers” due to the fact that all of their avatar names are actually just a series of numbers that start with sixes.

Speaking of “gunters” and “sixers,” Ready Player One is reminiscent of Clockwork Orange in its contextual generating of a lexicon of its own. Unlike Orange, many of the curious terms are actually real, but they are so niche to the gamer community, that they may as well be Nadsat.
Ready Player One is an enjoyable love-letter to 80s pop culture. I lost count of the times the narrator, while “gunting” through various media items, expressed identical feelings for certain shows, games, and movies that I experienced (Family Ties, Comic Books, John Hughes movies).
Additionally, I need to experience a flicksync of Groundhog Day. It would be amazing.

There is a lot more I could say about this book, but it would just be gratuitous rambling about how much I loved this reference or that moment. I was just enraptured by the book and all I can hope is that Cline has plans to explore this world even more somehow. Cline has written a modern-day Willy Wonka where if you want the keys to the candy store, you need to prove your worthiness.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 4, 2018 – Started Reading
April 4, 2018 – Shelved
April 9, 2018 – Finished Reading

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