Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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“Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.”

Ready Player One has been a very popular science-fiction book for a few years now, and one I have wanted to read simply because of all the hype surrounding it. Now that the movie version is being released I had to give it a read before seeing it on the big screen.

It is set in the year 2044, at a point where civilization has greatly deteriorated and the majority of people spend their time plugged into a virtual reality system called the OASIS. With many individuals and families living in poverty, the OASIS provides an escape and an opportunity to create a vastly different reality. When one of the original creators of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a challenge in the form of a contest, with the winner receiving his vast fortune. A high school senior, Wade Watts, has dedicated his time to studying everything there is to know about the reclusive OASIS creator and consuming all his favourite games, movies, music, and tv shows, all of which are very 1980’s themed. The race truly begins when Wade does the seemingly impossible and solves the first clue. Soon, he is not only focused on the contest but also survival as there is an organization that will do anything to win the prize and take control of the OASIS.

“If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game’s two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It’s just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.”

This is a really fun read, and one I am not only happy to have read but see myself rereading in the future. I would say that the first one hundred pages contain a lot of set up with explanations about the world, the OASIS, the contest and its creator, but once it takes off into the adventure it is fun and easy to get lost in. There are a lot, and I mean A LOT of references to movies, games, music, and tv shows of the 1980’s, as that is the favourite decade of the contest’s creator. I did not get all the references but that does not take away from the book at all. Some of the references were ones I had vague knowledge of while others were ones I was not familiar with at all, so you don’t need to have knowledge of 1980’s culture, or video games for that matter, to have fun with this book. There are moments that require a suspension of disbelief and certain things that happen that feel a little too convenient, but it is all easy enough to go along with. What I found particularly interesting were the glimpses of the real word, especially when compared to the utopia that is the OASIS, and how easy it is to get lost and absorbed into this virtual reality that offers a much needed escape. Overall a fun read that I would easily recommend.

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