Thursday, 10 November 2016

READY PLAYER ONE BY ERNEST CLINE - REVIEW

I picked up Ready Player One  due to the ridiculous amount of hype it got back when it was published. I know, I'm 4 years late, but it says something about this book that I was still thinking about it so long after its release. The premise of this book got me particularly excited; in 2044 the world has become desolate and dangerous due to global warming, energy shortages and the resulting economic ruin. The only escape is the immensely popular virtual reality game known as OASIS, in which players can forget the brutal realities of the modern world and immerse themselves in an extraordinary and limitless RPG. Ready Player One revolves around the narrator and main character Wade Watts as he attempts to leave less than idyllic home of his aunt and attempt to better the world via his attempts to solve the OASIS 'Easter egg'. Left behind my creator James Halliday upon his death, the 'Egg' gives whoever finds it not only full control over OASIS, but Halliday's huge fortune. But there's a catch, to find the Easter egg the players must solve a complex set of clues to find it's location; five years after its reveal the initial clue is still unsolved, and the egg is nowhere to be found.

"These three words were always the last thing an OASIS user saw before leaving the real world and entering the virtual one: READY PLAYER ONE”

Now, the actual story-line of this is wonderful, with good guys fighting extremely corrupt bad guys (the IOI) trying to monetise OASIS and turn it into a 'pay-to-play' for the elite; wonderfully rich descriptions of the OASIS landscape and the RPG system; hilarious and well-rounded characters including Og, the co-founder of OASIS who in one brilliant scene DJ's a party in an anti-gravity club, yes, really. This is a wonderfully complex, intricate and sumptuously detailed text that is perfect for any fan of RPG games like myself, though you will finish this book feeling deflated because why can't OASIS be real?

Now there is one huge problem with this book for me, and sadly it is a huge part of the entire premise of the book; the 80's references. Halliday was a quintessential 80's child with an obsession with the early video games, technology and TV/films of his childhood. This in itself isn't a problem, I'm in that odd middle area of being both a 90's and a millennial child, so Halliday's romantic nostalgia and obsession with his childhood culture is not really a problem for me, my generation have essentially created a meme from said weird obsession (only 90's kid will get this...), so I can't really judge. My problems arise from the fact that the hunters for the egg are told that the answers for Halliday's clues lie somewhere in his 80's obsession. In itself, not awful, until large swathes of the novel become dedicated to obscure 80's knowledge that left me insanely bored.

“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.”

Due to the fervent hunt for the egg the characters in Ready Player One immerse themselves in 80's culture big time, (acid wash and blue eye-shadow, sadly, make a comeback), meaning the references are near on constant. I am not one for 80's culture at all, I don't know why, but it has never interested me, so sections of the novel in which Wade or Art3mis show off their impressive knowledge of said era bored me quite a lot. I sadly ended up having to put this book down for a while as I found it too intense, too long-winded and far too much for my poor millennial brain. The 80's was a remarkably cool era, especially in regards to gaming, but sadly, I found myself wishing for less of these sections and more about OASIS and the actual hunt for the egg.

All that being said, this is a fairly good book and an exciting read, the latter quarter or so of this book is fast-paced, intense, and is worth drudging through or skipping the 80's references if you can; I can only give this three stars however as the constant and obscure 80's knowledge made this such a hard read at times for me personally, not that I wouldn't recommend it, but please go into it knowing you will be faced with Wade explaining the patterns of Joust or Pacman, or reciting parts of the script of Wargames. I am super excited to see the movie adaption of this book coming in 2018, and can't wait to see how they bring OASIS to life and it's myriad of characters to life, I just hope that the 80's references aren't as intense, my millennial brain just can't take it.

Rating: ★★

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