I chose Ready Player One as my next book purely out of the hype that had surrounded it. This isn’t a typical move for me, but I had read a few spoiler-free reviews from some other sites so I figured why not. Although I enjoyed this book while I was reading it, I don’t think it will be worthy of a reread. Sadly, I found it forgettable.
Wade Watts is your average teenager living in a post-apocalyptic world where everyone escapes into the OASIS, an online system composed of millions of worlds. When the creator of the OASIS passes away, he creates a quest where the winner will inherit his entire fortune and become the new owner of the OASIS. People have dedicated years to trying to solve the complex puzzles that have been put into place. Almost everyone in the world falls into two groups. You have the egg hunters, known as “Gunters,” individuals who have spent years religiously studying the journals of the creator in order to solve the mystery. Then you have people who have joined the evil corporation, known as the “Sixers” who want to take over the OASIS so they can exploit it for financial gain and power. Despite years being spent on trying to solve the first leg of the puzzle, our hero Wade manages to figure it out in a matter of a few pages.
Being a child of the 80’s, I loved all of the pop culture references to the decade. The creator of the OASIS was a huge fan of all of the television shows, movies, and games from that era so many of the worlds are based on this love. You can instantly participate in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, go on your own Dungeons and Dragons quest, or put yourself inside an old-fashioned video arcade straight out of the 80’s. Despite my own personal love for this time period, I can see how the novel might only appeal to a small percentage of readers. Be prepared for a lot of nods to this era. A lot.
As far as the story goes, it falls into your typical hero who was nothing becoming the “one” that will save the world. It becomes fairly predictable with a few twists here and there. I think maybe I became tired of the whole “chosen one” story from reading so many other books like it. I enjoy dystopian literature, but I think maybe I’ve just had my fill of it at the moment.
My biggest problem with the novel is the very one-dimensional villain who is the leader of the Sixers. Perhaps, it was an intentional decision by the author to have a classic 80’s “evil just to be evil” bad guy. It just didn’t work for me.
As far as the other main characters go, you have your best friend/sidekick character and the love interest, which didn’t do anything for me either. In regards to our hero Wade, his actions often didn’t make sense for someone being such a wonderful person. For example, in one scene where his actions indirectly result in the deaths of hundreds of people, he barely blinks an eye. Also, for someone trying to avoid the Sixers, he doesn’t hesitate in using his fame to make money and boost his popularity, therefore waving his arms in the air and saying, “Here I am!”
This book was a fun read for the great references to old Atari games, television sitcoms, and the movies that I remember fondly from childhood. Beneath the surface, it was pretty lackluster. I’m willing to give Cline another try though at some point in the future.
“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”