Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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{No Spoilers} Ready Player One is a sci-fi book set in dystopian 2044 that revolves around the OASIS, a virtual reality platform created by James Halliday, that is used by almost everyone on the planet. After his death, he revealed in his will that he created a huge game with an “egg” hidden in it – and whoever wins gets his entire fortune. However, in order to reach the “egg”, the player will have to clear three gates first. Click here to visit its wiki page.

A film adaptation for the book is set to be released in early 2018, which is going to be directed by world-famous Steven Spielberg. After watching the teaser, I went on to Google to know more about it and I was instantly mesmerized with the premise. Come on, owning your own virtual planet and coding it the way you want it? Yes, please.

Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is heavily imbued with geeky 80’s pop culture references and it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t hesitate on getting myself a copy. I just thought it was cool and to me, it was something new. Even before I started reading it, I was already imagining how expansive the concept could be.

{The Actual Review}

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Let me just preface this part by saying that I have a huge respect for Ernest Cline as a writer. Laying out the story of a teenage boy escaping his harsh reality through a virtual reality simulation is a great concept – in a way, it’s even similar to how we read books as a form of escape.

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I read the book without prior knowledge about Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, Star Trek – basically I barely had any clue about any 80’s references, except for a few. What I liked about it was that the book offered good descriptions so I didn’t really feel left out. The author seemed to be very knowledgeable about these and it reflected. The book was written in a light fashion, as well – so it’s a casual read. However, I noticed some parts were repetitive and found myself thinking, “wait, wasn’t this already established 2 pages ago?”

Considering the amount of 80’s references, it seems like it’s a book people well into their 40s would highly enjoy and relate to but written as Young Adult fiction. I think what I’m trying to say here is that, somehow there is a miss, you know what I mean? I could do some research myself such as watch movies, look for vintage game simulators, and read books about that time period – but it’s not going to be the same ’cause I didn’t experience the 80’s.

I have to say though – I felt like the book relied so much on the pop culture references that without it, the book wouldn’t have survived. The characters lacked depth, almost as if they were created just so the protagonist could have people he could interact with in the story. Also, for some reason (but this might just be me) but the reveal of Aech’s real identity felt like it was added just so we could say the book is inclusive. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Oh, and there’s some cringe-worthy use of Japanese honorifics (-san, -chan, etc) thrown in there too. For a moment, I almost thought I was looking at a meme on 9Gag!

To summarize: I don’t hate the book. In fact, I actually enjoyed reading it despite barely understanding all of its references. I do, however, believe that it could’ve been written better. I’m just a little disappointed because I saw a lot of potential in the concept. Usually, when a sequel comes out for a book that I just read, I drop whatever I’m doing and proceed to take a go at it. Not this time, I guess.

A lot of readers liked it, though! In fact, it has a score of 4.31 on Goodreads, which is pretty high. Honestly, I tried so hard to like it too, but it’s just no my cup of tea, sadly. I think the movie is going to be more awesome. (I have high hopes for you, Mr. Spielberg)

P.S. Here’s another interesting review of Ready Player One from Goodreads.

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I was doing some research about the book and I found out that in 2012, Ernest Cline announced that he had hidden an easter egg in his novel – a URL link. Those who found it was redirected to a video game called Stacks. Afterwards, the winners would then play another video game to complete the second gate and so on and so forth. Very similar to the premise of the book, which I think is very cool. (You can read more about this contest here.)

 

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