REVIEW: Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

Thursday, 29 March 2018

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

With Ready Player One being one of the most anticipated movies of the spring season, I thought that it was finally time to push the anxiety about not having any classic video game knowledge aside (or any video game knowledge aside from The Sims, let’s be honest) and read the book that everyone has been talking about.
And, outside of that video game/80’s pop culture bubble, the book actually worked really well - the dystopian environment was a believable future for the United States and the advancement of technology - in terms of the OASIS - managed to seamlessly expand on the VR technology that we already have, to appear to be a plausible next step for the most talented of video game designers.
10/10 on the concept. The execution and the writing? Well, that’s paints a whole different picture.
I have a friend who holds a similar air as the one in Ready Player One when it comes to metal/indie/emo music - if your music taste falls into the mainstream, to him, you are less than. Frankly, it is a pretentious way for him to feel superior to the people who were mean to him in high school. And, isn’t it the same way in today’s video game culture?
If you do not know an impossible amount of information about this incredibly niche area, then frankly, as this author deems it, you are not smart enough or cool enough. The main character, Wade, embodies this attitude - he sneers at a fellow gunter who has not dedicated every second of his life to studying 80’s pop culture references, and falls head over heels for his wet dream girl: Art3mis, a girl who knows as much about the time period as he does. She is one of the more obvious Manic Pixie Dream Girls that I have come across in a fucking long time becoming, what seems like, Wade’s entire motivation to win the competition and the subject of his beyond creepy, stalker-like obsession.
The two of them, along with Aech, have an impossible amount of knowledge for people in their late-teens/early-twenties when it came to the knowledge required to complete the OASIS’ tasks - all of them were able to reel off 1000s of movie scripts without much prompting and, even though Ernest Cline tries to explain it away as being the only thing that Wade dedicates his time to, I still find it an impossible feat for him to have memorised every book, movie, television show, video game and commercial from the 1980s.
It makes for a litany of deus ex machina that I’m just not here for. And, added to the excess pandering that the references came across as, and the inherent snobbery and superiority written into the prose, it also makes for a book that I will never be tempted to pick up again as a reread.

Head on over to for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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