It’s the year 2044 and all of society is immersed in the virtual world known as OASIS. With the real world becoming increasingly destitute, more and more people lose themselves in their online lives, including Wade Watts. When the creator of OASIS, an 80’s pop culture junkie, dies he leaves behind his legacy to the person that can find the ultimate hidden Easter Egg within his virtual game. Many years go by with no progress until one day Wade comes across the first puzzle. The ebbing interest in some are suddenly all renewed, now that someone has found the first of three locations. Wade must strive to maintain his lead now that other prize seekers are gaining on him and he has the attention of the entire real, and virtual, world.
There was a lot of hype about this book when it first came out, and I had been anxious to finally get to it. It opens with an introduction filled with footnotes and I thought that was a great way to tell the story, though I was wary whether that was going to be throughout the entire novel (which it wasn’t). That being said, the footnotes portion made it really interesting and fun and once the actual story got started, it felt a bit slow moving for me. I understand that there was the need to build up to the action and Cline wanted to get across the point that solving the riddles wasn’t an instantaneous thing that just happened for the characters in the story but the first half of the book felt really dragging to me.
For the most part, I liked the characters. They were interesting and they all had their flaws. I liked that none of them were perfect protagonists. Cline developed their character traits in a fairly poignant way between those we meet online and consider best friends when we’ve never met in real life. He makes some great observations about how one’s online presence is not necessarily 100% true to who they are, and how sometimes we tend to feel more comfortable being truthful and honest to a virtual person than a real one.
Having just finished Dave Eggers’ The Circle recently, I thought it was a similar parallel to Ready Player One with the immense dominance of an online society in the near future. In the end, I thought I would like it a lot more than I did. Maybe it’s because I was a child of the 80’s and not a teenager of the 80’s so while I understood many of the references, there were also a bunch more that were lost on me.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Available: August 16, 2011
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Read as part of Brunch Book Club with Lost in a Great Book.
Wrap up discussion to come in the coming week.