The other two members of The Land Mermaids Book Club both have husbands who received Ready Player One in their monthly Loot Crate subscriptions. Each read the book and liked it, paving the way for it to become our next book club read. In an exciting first for our small band of readers, the aforementioned husbands also joined our discussion! It didn’t hurt that we held our meeting at Chuy’s, which is a delicious Tex-Mex restaurant if you are unfamiliar with it. What can I say except books bring people together but so do chips and salsa (and creamy jalapeno dip!).
Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Published: August 16, 2011
Format I Read: Paperback
Synopsis: The world in 2044 is very grim as we have used up all our fuels and forced most of the population to crowd into large cities to survive. The only real escape is OASIS, a virtual reality universe where a person can be anything they want to be. When the eccentric millionaire creator of OASIS dies he leaves a video detailing how he placed clues leading to an Easter egg inside OASIS and the first person to find the egg inherits his entire fortune. Wade Watts, and every other person on the planet, begin the hunt for the elusive egg in an attempt to win the millions but also to keep OASIS out of the hands of the greedy evil corporation that is set on destroying it.
Thoughts: As you can see from my rating, I loved this book. It is so much fun to read and a treasure trove of 80s memorabilia. Halliday, the creator of OASIS, was an 80s kid trapped in a man’s body, so when he created his egg hunt all the clues were taken from 80s movies, music, video games, and TV shows. The egg search became a global phenomenon with people who end up dedicating their entire existence to hunting for the egg. To do so, these “gunters” had to learn everything they could about Halliday and his beloved decade. As an 80s kid myself, the references are great fun. I have never been a gamer, but I (like many kids) did enjoy my fair share of Pac-Man and Dig Dug back in the day. Even as a person not very well versed in video game history, I still enjoyed all the classic and arcade game references along with the movie, TV show, and music references scattered throughout. The point was made at our meeting (and I agree) that Cline does a nice job of explaining the games, movies, etc. in a way that allows you to envision it even if you have never seen it in real life. Though it may sound boring to some to read about a person playing a video game, it never comes across that way. Cline engages the reader throughout the whole book so that you are never just watching the characters play the games but you are playing for high stakes along with them.
I enjoyed watching Wade, the main character, grow throughout the book. It is partly a coming of age story as we see Wade grow up learning to live in OASIS, but this eventually teaches him that life outside the virtual reality is where one should truly live. The other characters are all well fleshed out and likable (except of course for the evil corporate goons who are truly despicable). I’m going to give away one little spoiler here because I loved it so much. (So if you haven’t read it and want to know nothing going into the book, skip to the next paragraph!) In one of the final battle scenes, there is a giant robot fight! I am a professed lover of kaiju, so when the giant robot fight starts and one of them is Mechagodzilla, I will admit I may have (definitely did) let out a little fangirl squeal. It was announced that Steven Spielberg is making Ready Player One into a movie, and I, for one, am totally on board with this idea. I just really hope it doesn’t get screwed up.
This book came out in 2011, which at this point, is now 5 years ago (man how time flies!). Social media was definitely a part of our lives at this point, but now, even just 5 years later, we are all so entrenched in our social media selves that I feel like we come closer every day to a fully online world where people forget to live in reality. OASIS as a metaphor for escapism is quickly becoming less of a metaphor each day. As I mentioned before, I feel like one of the lessons that Wade learns is it’s important to live in the real world and not just online; however, those lines are becoming increasingly blurred. This book hooked me from the start, and if you love the 80s or even just well-rounded geekery (there are worlds within OASIS dedicated to almost any possible fandom you can imagine), then I think you’ll love it too. Well worth your reading time.