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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Updated: Jul 25, 2019

Honestly if it wasn’t for Audible, this would have probably been another one of those novels that I started because the concept interested me but I would’ve stopped reading after a few chapters.

Ready Player One is set in the not too distant future, the 2040s. The world has shifted from being a physical social place to a virtual social place (honestly, doesn’t sound all that far off from how some things are now). James Halliday, a well-known video game designer in this particular universe, had created a virtual world known as the Oasis. This is where those who have access to a system can make a living. This is also where the game maker has hidden his fortune. Because of the type of person Halliday was, he had never married, thus no will was ever created in the sense that we think of one. The will that he does create is what sets the journey for our narrator Wade Watts. Halliday has turned his fortune into a game within his video game and the contest is open once Halliday passes away. We get a glimpse of what we’re going to experience within the first few chapters, but Cline shifts our attentions a bit by explaining part of how his idea of the future planet works.

Cline vomits a huge chunk of world building on you at the top of the novel. The first six chapters is nothing but world building. I understand establishing your world, but there are plenty of other novels that don’t spend half the novel explaining how your world works without an ounce of character development. And some of the world building sounded like Cline felt the need to explain it for any non-video game people out there. I get wanting to help make the novel accessible for all audiences, but if they aren’t interested from the get go, they aren’t going to read it.

The character development struggled, which made it harder to connect with the characters. I rarely felt a connection to Wade, which is the narrator — the character we spend the most time with. The only time I felt like I had a shot at connecting with him was when he was talking about the pop culture references. With the other characters, (because the end is really when we’re getting to know them) what little we do get makes them easy to connect with. Much easier than it is to connect with Wade.

The pop culture references are fantastic across the board. Did I know all of the video games referenced? No, but I could easily appreciate them with how Wade, the narrator, talked about them. The different movies and music references were the ones I most frequently got and felt the small amount of connection with Wade.

I think the overall experience of the novel is enjoyable. And I do recommend it to those who enjoy sci-fi, video games, and/or futuristic world novels.The technologies described in the novel sound cool, plausible, and potentially helpful. But there is a point that is made at the end of the novel about how there is nothing like experiencing real reality. And in our ever growing technology world, it’s good to be reminded of that.

I’ll be interested to see how this novel translates on the silver screen. I have a feeling that this will be one of those instances where I like the movie more than the book. But who knows, I may end up eating my words.

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