Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Ready Player One
In 2044, the real world is pretty awful. Poverty, hunger, and unemployment are even bigger issues than they are today. The only shining, wonderful part of life is called OASIS, a free virtual reality massive multiplayer online game that replaces many aspects of real life: shopping, games, vacations, communication, leisure time, and even school. One of the creators of this innovative technology died a few years ago and willed his entire enormous fortune to the person that can find three keys and the hidden easter egg in the vast OASIS. After five years, no on has found anything until Wade Watts find the copper key. Wade, in real life and in the game, is poor and looked down upon. In real life, he lives in one of the treacherous towers of mobile homes with his abusive aunt and whatever boyfriend she has at the time. In game, he doesn't have enough credits to travel and he's stuck with a few low level items and the default avatar skin. Suddenly, the whole world is looking at him, including the IOI cooperation bent on finding the easter egg to make the OASIS cost money and saturate it with ads, effectively destroying it for much of the population. Can Wade find the easter egg before IOI? How far is IOI willing to go to get it?
I read Ready Player One because a few people recommended it to me and they had a cool booth at San Diego Comic Con. I expected a cool, nerdy story that I would enjoy, but it went above and beyond my expectations. I read it in only a couple of days and I felt glued to the book, needing to know what would happen next. The first thing that really impressed me was the OASIS and its huge impact on the world. The possibilities are infinite in that world. You can be whoever you want to be ad experience it as if it were real life. Even in school, no one will ever really know who you really are unless you let them know. All of that life is experienced through screen names and avatars. There are thousands of planets that depict anything from schools to worlds from sci-fi films to night clubs. To the people of the time, it's better than reality and a way to escape. The huge differences between the virtual and real world were interesting to witness. In the OASIS, there are infinite possibilities and hope. In the real world, one can be enslaved in never ending indentured servitude for unpaid credit cards or live in a precarious tower of mobile homes.
The characters were all dynamic and develop throughout the novel. Wade is the quintessential underdog on a quest that is seen time and time again in science fiction and fantasy stories. He used the OASIS for school and to escape his horrible life full of abuse, pov I, and I'm sure many people, related to him because of his outsider status and nerdiness. His knowledge about James Halliday and his various obsessions was vast. The narrative was peppered with references from science fiction and the 80's in any media imaginable. Although I didn't get every single one, they gave the story an added depth. Wade used his obsession with everything related to Halliday and his intelligence to get through not only the obstacles in the game, but the ones in real life as well. His circle of friends were also endearing. All of his friends only knew him online, but he developed real, lasting relationships. It was interesting to see who they were in real life, behind their avatar facades.
I absolutely loved Ready Player One. I didn't want to put it down and I always went right back to reading the first opportunity I could. If you like science fiction, the 80's, and fun adventure stories, this book is definitely for you.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins