Set in the year 2044, the world is a pretty grim place where mass poverty rules. Our hero of the story, Wade, does what everyone else does and escapes his surroundings by logging onto the virtual reality world of the OASIS. There he is known as Parzival, he goes to school inside this virtual world and generally just hangs out with his friend Aech in his own virtual chat room.
The crux of the story revolves around the hunt for the Easter Egg. Upon the death of the OASIS’ creator James Halliday, he stipulated in his will that hidden within the OASIS is a special Easter egg that once obtained, will get the winner Halliday’s entire multi-billion dollar fortune. The stakes are high as the evil corporation IOI also want the Egg for themselves in order to take control of the OASIS, and as the story progresses it’s clear they will do anything to obtain it.
First of all, there’s one main issue I had with Ready, Player One that crept up almost constantly throughout the book. It’s Cline’s insistence on giving history lessons whenever a specific TV series, game or movie comes up. While it’s understandable that he wants to get across how much of a nerd the protagonist is, it also becomes slightly annoying when the story slows down as you’re told the history of some obscure Japanese television series.
The other slight issue I have is with certain interactions between characters. As well as Aech there’s also Art3mis, a fellow egg hunter and love interest for Wade, this is despite them never meeting in person. Indeed, the most interesting factor of the OASIS world is that you can be whoever you want to be. The problem is the dialogue can at times feel forced and unnatural. Certain parts were actually reminding me of the movie Hackers with our trio of nerds sounding incredibly unrealistic.
Still, despite my reservations I had a damn good time with this book. Is it a work of high art? No. Is it hugely enjoyable, escapist fun? Absolutely! And it doesn’t hide this at all. It’s a story of good vs evil with plenty of trials and tribulations ahead for Wade and his cohorts as they try to find the Easter Egg. You’re painted a wonderful picture of this bleak future that Wade finds himself living in that it’s understandable that people would want to escape into the OASIS.
It’s an enjoyable story, and it’s understandable why it was almost instantly courted for Hollywood but it may be a difficult adaptation. On top of the various games consoles and games that are constantly referenced and play huge parts in the plot (like Joust and Pac-Man), there are also movies and spaceships from across all media.
The OASIS being as vast as it is, travel between worlds can either be done with teleportation or using spaceships. These ships including various Star Wars vehicles, and even the Serenity from the Joss Whedon show Firefly. Oh, and the book also features Mechagodzilla and Ultraman. I’m not joking. In fact, what would be the best part of the book features these two giant behemoths, so omitting it due to license trouble (highly likely) would be a massive blow.
But anyway, that’s the movie, this feature is about the book. And while it may not set your world alight, I found Ready, Player One to be a hugely enjoyable romp that I found difficult to put down.