In the year 2045, 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.
Description taken from Goodreads
Beware! Spoilers Ahead!
Caitlin: I loved the essence of the worldbuilding in Ready Player One. The real world is a dystopian landscape of urban decay filled with stacks of trailers and hills of rusting cars. Cline touches on the issues of continual fossil fuel usage causing this downfall in modern civilization but he doesn’t actually go anywhere with it. The OASIS worlds are a vast paradise offering escapism for every taste and fancy and I love how all encompassing it is.
Then things start to get messy because you have all these kids with an 80s obsession dropping obscure pop culture references while hanging out in an immersive VR environment to escape from the awful realities of life in the real world. This might’ve been surreal but it missed and ended up being peculiar instead.
Gio: The OASIS is huge but the book touches on only a few of the many planets in it. Earth itself isn’t described in detail but it’s clear that it’s seen better times. In a way, the author creates a Matrix like world that people would rather be plugged into than freed from.
Caitlin: Ready Player One starts out slow. Much of the first third of the book is just scene dressing as Cline establishes the reader in his world and introduces the main character, Wade. I feel like it was supposed to increase the tension as the book built up to the epiphany where Wade solves the first clue but it just frustrated me. It picks up a little after that but then you have to suffer through Wade’s infatuation with Art3mis, which touches on obsessive even before he meets her. It does not get better.
The ending is the best part of Ready Player One. The stakes are at their highest and the battle is epic!
Gio: The book follows a simple formula: solve the riddle, follow the clues, race to find Halliday’s easter egg. It felt like a cyber version of Goonies at one point, which I liked, and then the book lost it and never gained it back. The first key and gate had more going on than the second gate. I can understand and relate to the part where he’s moping about Art3mis but it was done with too much excess.
Caitlin: I didn’t like Wade that much and the dudebro frenemy dynamics that come across between him and the other characters bored me. There was a moment when they were all in the Basement chatroom that I thought to myself that these are the sort of people that turn troll the moment you offend their fragile egos or sensibilities.
Gio: Traits that Wade should’ve had were represented in other characters. Art3mis was smart and cunning but also bold. Aech is friendly and active while Shoto and Daito represent family and deeper bonds. Wade had none of this. He had a deep knowledge of the 80s but with the last game the Shakespeare reference that Ar3mis knew about shows that she didn’t build her entire world around Halliday like Wade did.
Caitlin: There is a fascinating psychological make up to the character rising from his poverty and his appearance, but it felt a little like the author was trying too hard to make me feel sorry for Wade.
Gio: Wade only changes when he cares more about his friends than the game. Aech had a lot more going on.
Caitlin: You’re right. This might have been amazing if it was written from Aech’s POV. It would’ve been a much more layered story.
Gio: Her character has so much potential.
Caitlin: There’s a vague dual theme running through Ready Player One of how people hide in online environments to avoid who they are in real life yet manage to form true friendships with the people they meet. Cline’s exploration of this seemingly contradictory observation is excellent.
Cline also raises questions about how close to the brink humanity is prepared to push our planet as well as the lengths to which we’ll then go to avoid and escape from the destruction we’ve wrought.
Gio: I think this book is a few years too late. It would’ve worked better in the 90s. In the end, I think Halliday showing Wade the button came with another bit of advice: You wasted a lot of time on a game, kid.
Caitlin: The movie of Ready Player One is coming out at the end of March.
Gio: And Spielberg is directing it. I’ve been wondering how the VR world will be represented. We have Tron, that was not VR, but the game’s world was pretty cool. There was a huge sense that it was not real and that you were somewhere else. With a lot of the OASIS world’s coming off as well detailed and programmed, I wonder if they’ll shoot on location. Art3mis will obviously be some hot chick in the movie.
Caitlin: Everyone will be hot. They always are. I just watched the trailer and I don’t know who that dude is they keep focusing on but it doesn’t look like Wade at all.
Gio: Should I not watch it?
Caitlin: You should watch it for the crawling disappointment. The visuals look great though.
Gio: I watched both now and that is not Wade, Aech, or Art3mis. The movie seems less about the hunt for the egg and more a Call of Duty style battle for OASIS. I don’t see why Iron Giant is in it. It would’ve been cool to see the Voltron bots and Mechagodzilla, the other anime bots; at least a Gundam would’ve been awesome. My inner nerd wants to watch it so bad because games and stuff, but I can wait for the DVD.