Published by Broadway Books on June 5, 2012
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
Imagine if you lived in a virtual reality. You’d have all the powers, weapons and equipment you could dream of at your disposal and you’ll achieve the impossible.
Ready Player One puts Wade (or his online identity, Parzival) in the center of a OASIS, a virtual reality world that has taken over the internet in the year 2044. OASIS is like our version of the internet, except you can literally live, eat, feel, smell, talk and breathe in the countless worlds due to an amazing breakthrough invention by Gregarious Games. It’s like Second Life or World of Warcraft but even better, because thanks to the haptic equipment and retinal projecting goggles, it feels like you’re experiencing everything firsthand.
Who wouldn’t want to project your ideal self to the world around you? Why would you ever leave your home, if everything you could have ever imagined be right in front of you?
In the OASIS, you could become whomever and whatever you wanted to be, without ever revealing your true identity, because your anonymity was guaranteed.
It’s not all fun and games however, as Ready Player One also describes a world hooked on virtual reality, instead of living their own lives. From school, church, browsing and hobbies, everything is accessible through OASIS. Many people neglect the real world, leading to malnutrition, obesity, addiction, and the deterioration of social skills and human relationships.
The whole novel is based on a hunt for the creator’s inheritance also dubbed ‘Halliday’s egg’ – through a quest filled with seemingly impossible challenges of riddles, games and movie re-enactments. Aside from it being incredibly difficult, the world is filled with an evil global conglomerate of “Sixers” who wish to take control of the egg for their own nefarious uses.
As soon as I climbed out of the DeLorean I cast a Shrink spell on it, instantly reducing it to the size of a Matchbox car. Then I put the DeLorean in my pocket. Magic zones had their advantages.
I loved Wade for his fearless leadership, intelligence, humour and bravado, yet his one weakness was his infatuation on fellow gunter (or Halliday’s egg seeker) Art3mis. He was a fantastic strong hero character, but he had enough vulnerability about him to make him relatable. He just felt so honest and his feelings so real.
The romance, this is how I like it guys. Slow burning and sweet, formed over a deeper connection than just physical with someone who just ‘gets’ you. Although the romance was certainly a big deal for Wade, it never takes over the central story but adds just enough to make you ship the couple wildly.
The other characters were also incredible and endearing. Art3mis, for her ‘internet famous’ personality, her chemistry with Wade and her insecurity about her real self, Aech for his natural friendship and banter with Wade, and Shoto and Daito for their brotherly samurai bond. Although they started out as competitors, and their relationships weren’t always smooth, they banded together with a common purpose.
“The female of the species has always found me repellent.” – Parzival
“I don’t find you repellent.” – Art3mis
“Of course not. That’s because you’re an obese man named Chuck who likes to chat up young boys online.”
I absolutely LOVED every minute of Ready Player One. The whole novel was tense, exciting and jampacked full of pop culture and fun. It’s the best geeky fantasy I’ve ever experienced, paying homage to 80’s pop culture icons from TV, music, movies, games and books.
However, I don’t think my words could do this book justice. You’ll really need to experience its brilliance first hand. Definitely read it before the film comes out, directed by Stephen Spielberg!
Rating: 5 out of 5 (Insta-favourite!)