Have you ever read a book just for the hype? I’ll admit, I was hardcore jumping on the bandwagon when I decided to read this book (and rushing to beat the release of the movie!). Was the hype worth it? Absolutely.
In Ready Player One’s version of the 2040’s, people no longer interact in person: life happens in the OASIS. Enter Wade Watts: a teenager who has lived his entire life online. He lives in the stacks of trailers outside of Oklahoma City with his aunt and her sketchy boyfriend, attending school online and trying to explore the online world with his exceptionally limited funds. Wade is part of the hordes of users on the OASIS trying to solve a seemingly unsolvable puzzle with the highest of stakes: ownership of the OASIS. When Wade is the first player to make progress in solving the high stakes puzzle, we see him pushed into the spotlight and the danger that accompanies it.
Because everything is online, Wade doesn’t know or understand the true value of real-life, in person interactions. Throughout this book we see him stumble through relationships with his friends, family, people of power, and the girl he’s admired for years. I love how this book tackled the social anxiety of removing oneself from their ‘safety blanket’. We got to see Wade in the real world: where he couldn’t micromanage his appearance and environment and the vulnerability and discomfort that exposed him to. The author didn’t sugar coat how challenging being in the real world was for Wade, he was clearly vastly more comfortable in the game where he was idolized and a celebrity.
I’m not an 80s kid, but I’ll be damned if this book didn’t make me feel nostalgic for that era/ make me want to track down the nearest arcade to me. Ernest Cline’s world building was spectacular: it took a while for the OASIS to be fully fleshed out, but once it was, I couldn’t put the book down. The amount of detail was astounding, everything from the hardware that runs the game to the layout of the game to the pseudo-politics and mannerisms of different classes of players was described. By the end, I felt like an expert on all things 1980s.
This is a perfect book to get someone into the sci-fi genre. Ready Player One also has the added bonus of not being some grandiose series starter- it’s a genre defying stand alone novel. Having a perfectly delivered sci-fi tale in a single book is a rare find, one I would highly recommend to anyone looking for their next read.