Quick Review: Ready Player One

I was out of town for a few days, and due to some scheduling conflicts I was traveling alone. I was also at a hotel that had almost no cable channels which meant that I had no excuse not to continue a book I had started weeks ago; Ready Player One.

I had heard of this book many times over the past couple years, and have heard that it is now being made into a movie for release in 2018. The synopsis intrigued me, and I decided to give it a shot. The basic premise is that most of humanity is living out their lives in a game simulation called the OASIS, as a way to avoid the horrible world around them. However, the creator of the OASIS recently passed away and left clues within the virtual reality universe as to how to find his vast fortune. The story then follows a teenager who has devoted his young life to searching for this Easter Egg.

From there you’re introduced to a complex world where people jack-in for hours and days at a time, living out a second life in a completely simulated environment. It’s all based around virtual reality, and you experience it as if it were just as real and the outside world. People go on quests, develop relationships, and generally live day to day life, all without leaving their living room.

I won’t give away any more of the plot, but one key component is that the creator of the OASIS was a huge fan of the 80’s and so everything in the story revolves around the late 70’s and 80’s, which appeals to a lot of Gen X’ers like myself. It was fun to see so many throwbacks to the things of my childhood, and geeky past. If I had one single complaint though, it would be that some of the references are so obscure that you end up wondering how anyone could know about something that was so tiny and insignificant. But, that’s the magic of geek-dom, what is insignificant to one person could be a life long obsession for others.

The other really cool thing about his story is how it plays with the notion of escapism and video games. The OASIS is a place where people can retreat from the horrors of the real world (which seemed a bit too plausible of a future, based on current events). There is war, famine, and rampant unemployment. Corporations pretty much rule the world and they only care about profit. This creates a dystopian world that stands in stark contrast to the magical simulation of the OASIS. Inside the OASIS you can be whoever you want, and live wherever you want. The world is much easier to view through “VR-colored” glasses.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It wasn’t a complex read, and the craft was done well. It wasn’t the best writing I’ve ever experienced, but it was competent and fun. I even felt like the author did a good job at foreshadowing, but in a way that I completely forgot about until the end. It made me chuckle that it was able to surprise me in the way that it did. In many ways, the entire book was filled with Easter eggs for the reader.

I’d recommend picking this up if you have a chance. The movie releases next year, and it’s almost always better to get the book behind you before experiencing someone’s on-screen vision for what an author has intended.

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