Recently finished reading “Ready Player One,” and I enjoyed it.
The main character is Wade, a high-school student in a dystopian future, who spends most of his days in the VR universe known as the Oasis (a gigantic MMORPG / virtual world), where most of humanity spends most of its time. He and many others are searching for clues (related to 80’s video games, movies and such) to a secret in the Oasis, an ‘Easter egg’, which will grant the discoverer ownership of the Oasis’ parent company, and full control of the Oasis itself (think, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). There is a powerful corporation that will literally stop at nothing to find the Egg first, so Wade and his allies must dodge both virtual and real dangers as the hunt heats up.
The book straddles a few genres including YA dystopian (reality sucks, which is why everyone’s in the Oasis), and LitRPG (the Oasis is essentially a game, each person has an avatar that can be leveled up. Unfortunately, there are no save points in this game – if a person’s avatar dies, they lose all experience and virtual possessions held. Brutal, but this gives the VR world real consequences and dangers). Essentially, the hunt is like a large Trivial Pursuit, ’80s Geek Edition game, except some of the players have guns and are willing to use them.
The real pull here is in the 80’s nostalgia. If you weren’t a nerdy kid in that era (and neither were your parents) then most of the references will just fall flat, and you’ll be wondering what the big deal is. If you’re a fan of YA distopian fiction, there’s frankly not much world-building here. We spend most of our time in essentially a large video game.
Ultimately, its a lot of fun for people who enjoyed all those video games and popular movies from the eighties. Lots of references, so if the reader grew up in that era, there’s a lot of “oh, I remember that.” If you like playing video games, then there’s something here for you as well. Sure, the first few chapters drag while the author walks us through the history of the key characters. But if you stick with it, the pace starts picking up and ends with a solid finish.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’m curious to see what Spielberg did with the story. All in all, a solid B if you’re into Monty Python, video games, and Japanese cartoons with big robots!