Amy Caudill‘s review
This story is a modern-day epic quest featuring a hero’s journey, most of which is accomplished online. What follows is a tale that contains action, violence, romance, subterfuge, and puzzles wrapped in a package that will, depending on the age of the reader either fill them with nostalgia or mystification of the trivia and culture of the 1980s.
Despite the fact that I had watched and enjoyed the movie based on this novel, twice, I had to psych myself up a bit before I sat down and read the 579 page book. I admit that I was a little daunted by the length of the story, but I was glad in the end that I did.
Ready Player One by author Ernest Cline details a semi-apocalyptic world of the not-so distant future where the economy, the environment, and overcrowding have pushed the population at large to seek relief from their mundane existence in an online community called the Oasis. One of the two creators of the Oasis, James Halliday, left as his will and legacy a contest that would grant the winner his fortune and control of this virtual universe. The main character of the story, Wade Watts, is a teenage “Easter Egg Hunter,” or gunter for short, determined to win this prize.
At this point the movie begins to deviate from the book. While the major premises and most of the characters remain the same; the quests for the ultimate prize and the nature of the virtual world are quite different. The world of the novel is in some ways darker, while the challenges to find the clues are both more cerebral and less flashy, and speak of the full-time commitment many have made in pursuit of the reward.
Wade Watts lives mostly in the Oasis, barely existing in reality, which his interactions in both ably demonstrate. His only friends are those in the Oasis, none of whom he had ever met in real life, at least in the beginning. When they do meet, Wade must decide if the differences they present in real life mean they are not the same people he has come to depend on online.
The quest to find Halliday’s Easter egg is the focus of not just Wade’s life, but also a huge group of dedicated gunters, and a rival internet company, IOI, that wants control, no matter the cost. Headed by Sorrento, an unscrupulous businessman and gamer, IOI is not afraid to use every dirty trick online and in real life to achieve their goal-domination and commercialization of the Oasis.
I award this book five stars for originality in plot, as well as a story filled with memorable characters and nail-biting action.