Teen Review: Ready Player One
Review by Oishe, member of the Albert Campbell Youth Advisory Group
With the movie having been released quite recently, and the book having received hype for years and years, I thought it would be only appropriate to finally give Ready Player One a read. Written by Ernest Cline, the book takes place in the year 2044, a bleak time when the earth is in a state of a severe energy crisis. Most everyone has taken to escaping to the refuge of the OASIS, the largest, most advanced virtual reality game man has ever known. The OASIS was the brainchild of the eccentric and brilliant James Halliday, who took his undying love for 80s pop culture, and created worlds and worlds filled to the brim with them. However, when Halliday dies, he makes it known that he has left his immense fortune and full control of the OASIS to the first person to find an Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the game. And so we meet our main character, Wade Watts, a teenager hell-bent on finding said Easter egg.
However, Halliday has seemingly made the the Easter egg impossible to find. So, as most egg-hunters (or gunters) slowly give up the chase, Wade continues fruitlessly pursuing a dream that seems to be just that – a dream. That is, until he manages to be the first to uncover a clue. That is, until he finds himself in the middle of others who are willing to play dirty in order to win.
When I went into this book, I didn’t quite know what to expect from it. Now, having finished it, I’m baffled in the best way. The action was much more intense than I’d thought it would be, and the descriptions made the story so vivid. I felt as if I too were in the OASIS, standing beside Wade, seeing what he saw. The characters were very likeable, and incredibly easy to become attached to. Not only were our protagonists well developed, but so were our antagonists, which made it easy to hate them. I loved the relationships that were created, both platonic, and not. Like any good story, Ready Player One harboured an incredible conflict, and jarring plot twists. Once you get started, the task of putting it down is near impossible.
Though I was pleased with it overall, just like any book, there were a few aspects that were harder to get over. One thing is the abundance of 80s references. The references weren’t an intolerable part of the book, they simply went over my head. There were maybe a few that I understood, but a vast majority were a mystery. This is why I suggest that if you are a young adult reading this, that you have a wifi connection to search up the references, or even better, have an adult explain them to you. Secondly, if you plan on reading Ready Player One, prepare yourself to see the lines of reality and the game blur. Multiple times throughout the book, I had to stop and think about whether an event took place in the real world or in the OASIS. That’s just another part of the reading experience; the worlds will inevitably start to overlap.
The last thing I wish to address is what I found to be most unsettling about Ready Player One: the depiction of the earth. In the book, the world is a place of not only an energy crisis, but a financial and environmental one as well, so much so that the human race is in a decline. Reading about this made me sit back and ponder it for a moment. I couldn’t help but think about the fact that everything the book described about how the human decline came about seemed eerily similar to things we’re doing now. Burning too many fossil fuels, killing animals, screwing with the planet’s temperature. It made me realize that this book may not be all fiction. The description of reality is undeniably our future; and though I’m not sure it will happen as soon as 2044, it is coming, unless we do something about it. And if we don’t, if we choose to sit back and watch as it happens, then we have to, as Cline puts it, “live the rest of your life knowing you’re going to die someday and disappear forever. Sorry.”
I wholly enjoyed the book Ready Player One, and cannot wait to see Spielberg's adaptation of it. The characters, plot, and action made the book very enjoyable, enough to earn it a 4/5 stars from me. For the betterment of your life, I definitely recommend picking this one up and giving it a read.