Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
(Crown, Hardcover, 9780307887436, August 2011, 384pp.)
The Short of It:
An entertaining romp down memory lane, but in the end its potential for “geektastic-ness” was never fully realized.
The Rest of It:
It’s the year 2044 and the real world is apparently a place where no one wishes to live. Instead, everyone chooses to live in the OASIS, a virtual world created by James Halliday. Users don their gear, sit in their Haptic chairs and then surround themselves with valuable artifacts to be used in the game. Their avatars are everything as they choose to live their lives behind these figures.
Wade Watts is one of those people. He’s a kid, living with an Aunt who really doesn’t want him there and he has no real-life friends and only a few virtual ones, but what he does have is skill. This comes in handy when Halliday leaves his entire fortune to the person who can solve the OASIS riddle that he’s left behind.
What worked for me, are the numerous references to 80’s pop-culture. I am an 80’s girl, through and through so I enjoyed many of the references, but this book tried to be too many things and in the end it was completely consumed by the game itself.
I never considered myself a gamer, but when I was in middle school, I spent a good chunk of time playing Pac -Man, Galaga, and let’s not forget Frogger. So the fact that gaming was front and center, really wasn’t the issue here, to me, it had to do with balance or specifically the lack of it.
I didn’t really like any of the characters and they all seemed a bit flat. Perhaps much of that is due to the fact that many of their true identities are not revealed until the end of the book. Instead, we are introduced to their avatars which to me, left a lot to be desired.
For this book to have worked for me, I needed more of Wade outside of his avatar, a less predictable story and a little less of the gaming re-hash that ensued every time Wade had to do battle with his opponent via an 80’s video game.
To really understand how I felt about the book, click here.