Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Reason for Reading: On TBR
Before I begin with the review, I want to add a disclaimer to my 3 star rating. It's more of a grudging 3-star rating. Based on the content of the novel alone (i.e. story, plot, premise, characters, writing, etc.) I would have given it more of a 2-2.5 for reasons I will explain later. But I was just so drawn into this book that I didn't even like that much that I had to up the rating. I wasn't a huge fan of the characters, or of the story. But it was just so addictive that once I picked it up I HAD to keep reading.
This reminds me kinda of the Eye of Minds series, but better. Basically it's set in a futuristic world, where everyone has gotten sucked into this virtual reality called OASIS (btw I love the name, for reasons I will also explain down there VVVV) because real life is kinda awful since the entire planet has really deteriorated. OASIS reminded me of the Wizards 101 game that used to have ads everywhere probably like 8ish years ago? I had to Google to confirm that this game was actually a thing but whenever wizards were mentioned in Ready Player One I thought of the wizard from the Wizards 101 ad and yeah it was weird. Our main character is Wade Watts, who spends most of his time in OASIS looking for the key to the fortune of OASIS' creator. There's also your standard evil company, IOI, which is trying to charge everyone huge amounts of money to use the (mostly) free game.
Ready Player One is full of video game references that, if you are not a gamer, you probably won't get. Just putting that out there. I got the Oingo Boingo "Dead Man's Party" reference, since I grew up listening to it, but half of the games listed my brother probably knows, but I don't. He's the gamer, I've had my nose stuck up a book for years and have decided to never take it out. While other reviews have said that you can still enjoy the book without understanding the references, I feel like it would have been a lot more enjoyable had I actually known what he was talking about half of the time. Also tying into the fact that I'm not a gamer: I could never spend as much time was Wade does in this virtual world. I just really dislike video games, they have never really been my thing. So it was hard to connect to this desire to escape from the world by playing a video game, because when I want to escape I decide to read about King Henry VIII's 6 wives. Which is totally more relatable than video games.
So for my next little "this is what irritated me" segment, I feel like I need to explain how friggin GENIUS the name OASIS is for this simulation. So, normally when you are in the desert and you are dehydrated and struggling, you will see an oasis--you know, the palm trees and pond of water and all that jazz. You know it's a mirage, but you are still drawn to it because what if this time it's real? Now this is how OASIS fits so well. Real life stinks in this book. Wade lives in what is basically a city made out of trailers stacked on top of each other, pollution is a thing, there's a global energy crisis, it's awful. AKA it's our metaphorical desert. What is OASIS? An escape from the real world, where everything is awesome and you have the ability to become anyone that you wish to be. It's not real, but you wish that it was. AKA OASIS is our mirage.
Mini analytical freakout over.
Here is what bugs me about the characters though. I can't go too into detail without giving a bunch of stuff a way, so I am going to try and keep it as generic as possible. Basically all of the main characters in this novel, Wade included, have parts of themselves that either they are uncomfortable with, or they feel like society would be more accepting of them without said part/attribute. And they use OASIS to hide this. Yet throughout the entire book, despite the touted "self-acceptance" parts, these characters either a) get rid of said attributes, b) fail to be more comfortable with their attributes, or c) forget about their insecurities because INSTALOVE. Cline brings up these issues, some of which are actually really big in today's society, and then instead of addressing them either glosses over them, ignores them, or casually "fixes" the character. I feel like he should have used character development to address the issue, not just gloss over it.
So basically this was a really fast read that I couldn't put down, even though I really didn't love it and felt like it could have used some work on addressing some of the issues it brought up. I think a gamer would appreciate this book 100x more than I did, but it wasn't necessarily a bad book. It just wasn't really for me.