Have you ever read a book and thought it was written just for you? Well, that’s exactly how I felt with Ernest Cline’s dystopia, Ready Player One.
It’s the type of novel that seems like the personification of nerd-culture. Cline’s science fiction novel takes you through a rollercoaster ride of references with video games, 80s pop-culture, movies, and so much more, all complimenting the unravelling narrative throughout.
Set in the 2040s, the book introduces a depressing and dreadful planet Earth that is suffering from the consequences of human actions. Climate change and overpopulation have had detrimental effects on the planet with citizens turning to the virtual world of the OASIS to avoid societal problems.
The OASIS is mankind’s safe haven. While it’s technically just a virtual reality video game, the OASIS acts as an alternative utopia that allows for exploration, education, and so much more. It’s this alternative reality that helps set up the premise for the story that unfolds in Ready Player One.
Following the death of James Halliday, an introverted individual and the co-creator of the OASIS, it’s announced that an Easter egg contest was inserted somewhere in the OASIS, with the winner inheriting his entire fortune.
Given the problems that exist in the world, the contest will have serious implications on the future of humanity due to the reward at stake. However, it’s the winner who decides whether these are positive or negative.
The narrative itself follows the story of teenage protagonist Wade Watts, a poverty-stricken individual who lives with his aunt that devotes his life to the contest and also James Halliday himself. Wade’s demeanour often seems obsessive, particularly towards the aforementioned creator who he treats like a god, and his presentation consistently reflects a stereotypical nerd.
While many books have explored the concept of a future dystopian Earth, the uniqueness of Cline’s novel helps set it apart from other narratives. While not the primary focus, the book is a warning sign for what the future could hold for our own world. The dominance of technology and fear surrounding climate change reflects to current beliefs within society. Also, certain events that take place within Ready Player One could easily translate to our world too.
The shifts and contrasts between virtual and modern reality are tackled well by Cline which helps keep the story fresh and interesting. Although the contest is only present within the OASIS, the occasional shifts to the real world are a beneficial reminder of the importance of this contest.
Overall, Cline does well in presenting an intriguing narrative and producing a fun story. I found myself turning pages as fast as I could to unravel more of the plot and discover who is successful in winning Halliday’s contest.
Whether you’re a fan of video games, science fiction novels, or just want to read something new, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is a fast-paced and enjoyable read that’s worthy of its praise.