05 May 2012

REVIEW: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Publisher: Random House
16 August 2011
372 Pages

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

R E V I E W :
This virtual world within this bleak future that is our world was like a gamer's wet dream. I kind of wish it were real. Somewhere where one can escape the harsh realities of life and emerge themselves and most of their senses into a virtual reality with the right equipment. Where one can be whoever, whatever they want.

Basically, this guy (Halliday) made this super immersive, high tech mmorpg game in the future, which is really bleak and sad because we humans have pretty much destroyed our planet. So then he dies and leaves behind a clue to three keys for three gates, all hidden in the virtual world he had created (called OASIS) and declared that whomever reaches the end will win his inheritance (which is quite large. Think Bill Gates).

So Wade, our protagonist, better known as Parzival in the game, is one of the people who look for the clues (a gunter) by researching everything to know about Halliday and the '80s. In reality, he's a poor antisocial hermit, at least until he finds the first clue. Then he's an antisocial, middle class/rich hermit hiding from an evil company called IOI that is hellbent on taking over OASIS and monetizing it. Most of this story takes place on OASIS where he becomes a legend for being the first to retrieve the first key (clue). And we follow him as he scrambles to figure out where and how to get the keys and gates (clues).

Anyways, this story's bad guys vs good guys premise was very black and white, with the IOI company against pretty much everyone else. And of course, the good once again prevails. Oh. And the guy gets the pretty girl.

So that kind of makes this story seem cliche, but that's not completely true. It was action-packed and exciting (with a bit too much slow moments), introducing us into a new world (or worlds).

Some Negatives:
The beginning and sometimes the middle of was quite slow and dull. It wasn't until halfway through that it started to slowly and surely pick up. The only reason I kept reading was because of the plot and my love of gaming.

The book was chock full of over-explaining, in my opinion, and unnecessary and mostly uninteresting information about (now) obscure games from the '80s. Some people might find this very interesting though--probably gamer geeks (and I say this lovingly since I love games) or anyone interested in doing '80s jeopardy.

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