As terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
The year is 2044. Climate change has caused a global energy crisis. Poverty, famine, disease and wars plague every continent. Oasis, a virtual-reality universe, is the only place where most of humanity can go to escape from reality, and orphaned 18-year-old Wade Watts is along those people.
The death of James Halliday, the eccentric creator of Oasis, triggers a treasure hunt that revolves around Halliday’s main obsession: 1980s pop culture. He hid three keys within Oasis. The keys lead to three tests. The first person to find the keys and pass the trials will receive an egg. The egg allows the winner to inherit all of Halliday’s substantial wealth, but more importantly, he will receive unlimited power in Oasis.
During his hunt for the egg Wade is aided by the “gunters” (egg hunters) Art3mis, his best friend Aech, Daito and Shoto. They become known as the High Five when they start racking up high numbers on the cosmic scoreboard. They soon gain the attention of Nolan Sorrento, the head of the Innovative Online Industries. IOI is a multinational corporation bent on taking control of the OASIS for purely commercial reasons – charging for its use and bombarding users with advertisements.
Despite being set in a futuristic world, this is a book built on ‘80s pop culture, which I absolutely loved. Watts was a well-developed character that carried the story well and the world of OASIS came alive around me. The characters are believable teenagers. There is action on every page without it ever being overdone. Even the bad guy fits in his world of corporate greed as much as any that you could name in our world.
Ready Player One is written with such a depth of love for its subject that you end up falling in love with it all too. You don’t have to be a geek to enjoy this book but if you are even a tiny bit geeky you’ll get so much more enjoyment from it. You get to be immersed in your favorite worlds from your favorite stories as you travel along with the characters.
Ernest Cline also reminds us that while living in the worlds that OASIS creates is something magical, real life will always be the only place where we get to build real and meaningful relationships and experiences. Ready Player One became not only one of my favorite books but also one of my favorite movies. I could happily sit and read this all over again – right away.