Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
Publish Date: August 16, 2011 (original hardcover)
Published by: Crown Publisher/Broadway Books (paperback)
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (3.5 out of 5 stars)
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. 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.
So I hadn’t really intended on reading this book this month, but I watched the trailer for the movie and, intrigued, picked it up and read the prologue to see what it was about. And somehow I could not stop thinking about it. It managed to drag me in despite a large amount of exposition that took up the majority of the beginning (always a pet peeve for me when it comes to books, but somehow the explanations were interesting enough that I didn’t feel the need to put it down in annoyance).
The plot moved decently and had a lot of action in it that really held my attention. I wasn’t a huge fan of Wade, who became a little self-centered and made some dumb decisions at points, and didn’t seem to react much to certain tragic events. In fact, many of the characters in the book felt very bland and not fully developed. It seemed that most of the focus was on the Hunt and how many fandom references could be inserted into the novel, so the characters seems to fall by the wayside in terms of being interesting. The ending was good, but a little predictable, and I felt that there were a lot of instances of deus ex machinas and hindsight-exposition that explained something (usually someone acquiring something) that suddenly comes into use during the scene in which this hindsight-exposition is being delivered. Despite these flaws, though, it was still fun to read and definitely captured my attention from the start.
There are an overwhelming number of references to 80’s pop culture, computers and video games that definitely went over my head at times (thank the stars for Google), to the point where at times I felt like Cline was just finding any means of tossing in his personal fandoms. I mean, I can’t blame him – I understand being part of a fandom. But it also felt like a bit much at times, like I was reading one of those fanfics where the author tried to fit in random lines from different things they like (and yeah I think I was one of those fanfic authors at one point. Middle school – what can you say?).
I am also going to be a little nitpicky, because there were a lot of inconsistencies in dates and times in this book. The biggest one for me was the fact that Sorrento states that Wade’s birthdate was in 2024 and since the book takes place in 2045, that would make him 21, when he said he was 18. There were other, more minor ones as well, but that one was just the one that annoyed me the most.
Overall, though, it was definitely a fun read, with lots of action (despite how little the characters actually moved in real life), dystopian elements, and a plot that kept me captivated. It does tend to feel like a fan’s homage to all of his fandoms at some points, but in the context of the novel it works and makes sense. However, the lack of development in the characters and their overall two-dimensional quality has me pushing my rating down for this. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good adventure, quests, dystopian novels, and being an overall geek who understands loving their fandoms and sharing that joy with others.
Beat the Backlist 2017 | Books Completed Toward Goal: 19/24