Ready Player One by Ernest Cline reads like a classic 80's science fiction/cyberpunk movie. The book is magical and wondrous, hilarious and brilliantly written, a total page-turner, full of action, epic characters and an engaging plotine that kept me hooked. If you are a kid of 80's, or if you enjoy 80's video games and pop culture, then this book is gold for you.
The main theme of this book resonated with the deepest part of me. At its core, the book is about an orphaned misfit embarking on a quest; a teenager on a treasure hunt - but this is no ordinary book, so the treasure hunt and the quest takes place in a world of virtual reality.
The storyline goes like this: Its the year 2044 and the world is in dire straits, but in an apocalpytic world where reality is so grim, there is one messiah: OASIS, a free online interactive virtual reality world developed by two ingenious video game designers. OASIS has planets, schools, chat rooms and several real world scenarios coded into its virtual world and people simply create avatars and log onto OASIS with special goggles and gloves.
The book opens with the death of the creator of OASIS and his challenge to the world: his gigantic fortune will be inherited by the one who solves a riddle and finds an egg that he has hidden somewhere deep in OASIS. All the world has to do is find three keys that will open three gates that will lead them to the egg. The whole world scrambles and clamors to crack the puzzle. Our protagonist and four other kids cross paths while searching for the egg. As a part of their quest, they are pitched into 80's movies, video games and are battling monsters, risking their lives and managing to stay alive through their wits, intellect and efforts. But the main pain is a corporation that wants to take over OASIS and charge the world a fee and they resort to all kinds of dirty tricks including murder, kidnapping and cheating to win the egg. Our protagonist and his friends have to slug it out with the corporate thugs to win the day.
What I loved about this book is the elaborate world building. Everthing is so well described that I felt like the author was describing something that already existed or something that perhaps the future generation is about to experience. Often times as I read the book I had to remind myself that the characters are actually not on a quest in the real world but in a simulation. It was interestingly mind boggling and fantastic.
Another thing that I found very endearing is the sheer amount of shit pile that the protagonist has to endure and the way he beats the odds. The only way to win the golden egg is to study and research like an obsessed maniac the book that the creator, James Halliday wrote and to be nearly as familiar with 80's video games and pop culture as with breathing. There are so many instances where the protagonist mentions he read this book or that book - 4 times or he practised a particular video game for days, which shows that instead of just making his characters courageous or lucky or talented or special, the author actually makes his characters put in solid efforts through their preparation, kind of like studying intensely for the exam and then taking the exam. It takes the protagonist months and at times a little help to crack the individual pieces of the puzzle. On the whole, our protagonist only has probably a couple of days where everything goes smoothly, where he feels warm and fuzzy, otherwise, on every other day, he is a lone wolf battling it out by himself for days on end.
I was so amused and impressed at how well the author was able to portray the corporate greed as the main villain in this book. It was very well done.
As I was reading this book, very earlier on, I felt like the author was a kindred spirit. There's a particular old fashioned flavor to his ideas: there are no short cuts to the real prize, efforts and studying saves the day. Adventures and quests are life changing. Be brave. Love courageously and fight brilliantly with your intelligence. Better to be a lone wolf than a sell out.
An amazing read. The author did everything right. Props to the author: Ernest Cline. If you are looking to be a writer, this is a great book to study from.
The love for books & a hunger for stories was programmed into my DNA. And, sooner than later, life experiences sealed the deal. Books have saved me, transformed my life, enlightened me and have shown me the path I must walk. In a way, far too many books have played the role of kindred spirits and guides, leading the seeker in me to answers and paving a way for a new way of life. Books have helped me keep my wits, my sense of wonder, my sense of mystery and curiosity & my sanity in a life that has been anything but predictable and normal.