speculative fiction · young adult

Random Thoughts on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:

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Blurb from Goodreads:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

Thoughts:

Wade’s mood swings as a passionate fan and geek made me smile.

I wanted to steal that virtual Firefly/Serenity ship that arrives in the latter half of the novel.

(Seriously, I’d add the sentient ship Moya from Farscape to the list of most wanted cyber vehicles in a science fictional universe.)

I really enjoyed the detail in regards to the possibilities opened up by virtual reality. The escapist virtual worldbuilding was strongly tied into this bleak resource exhausted world. I liked that the story didn’t shy away from the question of limited virtual access due to privilege.

There was a self-aware lightness to how it approached fantasy wish fulfilment and various genre tropes. The story also touched upon race and the gender politics in the gamer community towards the end but I agree with other reviewers that this aspect could have been explored more.

If Ready Player One was narrated by any of the secondary characters, the plot could have delved deeper into experiences of marginalisation and independence. These character arcs are just hinted in the back stories of Aech, Artemis, Daito and Shoto. If anyone’s up for exploring those stories and challenging archetypes a step further, I’dive in with the enthusiasm that Wade displays regarding Halliday.

A few more diverse love letters to SFF, gaming and/or fandom to explore:

The Guild (I really need to catch up on this show)

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Among Others by Jo Walton

I still haven’t read these yet:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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6 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

  1. This is a great review. I loved the geeky goodness of Ready Player One. So much fun! I read and enjoyed Mr Penunmbra’s Bookshop too. Did you know that the dust covers of the some of the hardcovers glow in the dark?

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    1. If I stumble upon an original dust cover – I’ll definitely test it out! Mr Penumbra’s Bookshop was a fun read – have you tried The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin? I want to hug that novel – it’s a love letter to bookshops.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I agree! It’s totally huggable. I read it last year and loved it so much. Oh, my gosh! I love your taste in books! I’m going to look you up on GoodReads!
        (P.S., I read Oscar Wao, but I didn’t love it like the others on your list. So much of a “slice-of-life” that it was a downer, for me anyway.)

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  2. Me too! I love Goodreads – will check out your shelves! I’ve been using Goodreads for years but only recently decided to dive back into blogging. Thanks for the tip about Oscar Wao – I’ll look it up when I’m in the mood for something in the darker slice of life lane.

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  3. I’ve seen that the sequel (if it is a sequel and not just a sorta-follow on) to this hasn’t been received very well, but I was keen to read your thoughts when I saw you had a review for this, Glaiza, because quite a few people have suggested I give it a go. And by the look of that cover I totally should! *laughs* I hope I don’t read books just because they’ve got pretty covers anymore. I probably do. This has a really nice cover!
    It does sound interesting, and I like things that have such a massive passion for something- like fandom, gaming, etc- but I’m not sure it feels like something I’d quite enjoy. Hmm. I am unresolved. I’m happy it was a fairly good read for you, though!

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    1. I think the sort-of-sequel can be read as a stand-alone but I haven’t read it.

      Though I do love my library’s cover for the first one. (Don’t worry, blurbs and friends are usually the ones who convince me to read a book but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that an awesome book cover didn’t hook me in first).

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