“These days, most gunters referred to them as ‘the Sux0rz.’ (Because they sucked.)”
This was the moment I fell in love with the book. On Page 32, when the book made me literally laugh out loud with something I could have easily imagined reading on reddit earlier that day had the real world resembled the one in Ready Player One.
How fitting, considering I got wind of Ready Player One from reddit. It was recommended on /r/books as a funny, amusing read with plenty of 80s and video game references, and sure enough, it delivered!
Sure, you might hear from some more critical reviews that the book is “plot driven” instead of “character driven”, but meh. I don’t actually care. This plot was so good I can forgive the lack of character growth and focus on the story. I like stories! I especially like stories that cater to my target demographic: Guys who grew up in with video games in the late 80s/early 90s, especially arcade games and MMORPGs like World of Warcraft.
The writing style was perfect for its catered audience, mixing in idioms from the internet and weaving in bits of video game nostalgia here and there. For anyone who’s ever played an MMORPG, it would be easy to imagine the different scenes and dialogue in the Oasis happening.
I rather enjoyed the protagonist of our story, but that hardly comes as a surprise. He’s basically everyone we want to be. He’s your everyman, the gamer that outsmarts everyone else not because of any special superpower, but just because he was smart and obsessive about video games. Plus, he gets the hot gamer girl, and let’s be honest…*everyone* wants that haha.
The only really questionable decision he makes is in near the beginning, after he gets the first key, when the IOI basically tells him that they know where he is, and that they’re going to kill him. BUT, he can tell them how to get the first key, they won’t blow his ass up, PLUS he still gets $5,000,000. Five million dollars! Consider how poor he grew up, there is no reason he shouldn’t have jumped at that offer, death threat or not.
But whatever, he’s a dumb kid, and dumb kids make dumb decisions, right? haha
Other than that, Wade runs through trials and tribulations that we can all relate to. He finds the first key! Woohoo! Even better, he meets Art3mis, and they become friends, and he gets to basically date her. WOOHOO! The text chatlog where you see them flirting is heartwarming and surely something that every guy has experienced or longed to experience.
But wait, he fucks it all up with the best of intentions, which we have ALL done at some point in our lives and now she won’t talk to him anymore. *Extremely* relate-able, am I right guys? Doh. These aren’t tears of pain, they’re tears of…of…shut up! *sob*
Major Plot Events
I will say that there was one twist I didn’t see coming, and that’s where Wade tries to infiltrate the IOI from the inside. That changed the tone of the book, at least for a little bit. As the reader, you were left out of Wade’s plan-making, and serious consequences for Wade occurred. It was quite the change of pace from the mostly lighthearted, relatively consequence free video-game tone that the rest of the book had.
One thing that Ernest Cline does do *really* well though is set up and describe amazing climaxes. I couldn’t put the book down during the gigantic confrontation between the IOI and the rest of the Oasis. The battle between Wade/Shoto and Sorrento is done really well, and ties a lot of the previous events in the book neatly together, between the new Robots that Wade and Shoto have, plus Mechagodzilla that Shoto gifts to Wade earlier.
I have to admit that I did kind of see the IOI using the giant “kill everyone” button earlier (the Cataclyst), with the set up that Cline made way earlier in the book. I was even yelling in my head at Wade to not put all his forces in one bucket when he was planning the planetary assault, but whatever. Characters do what they want haha.
That being said, I wasn’t sure how Cline was going to address that, and I’m glad to see it had to do with the random quarter that Wade got earlier in the book. It makes perfect sense in hindsight, but at the time, I had no idea what the quarter was for. Seemed like a dumb prize for a dumb game, and then I promptly forgot about it. Cline’s writing style really set that up well so that way we, the reader, experience the same emotions and thoughts as Wade.
You can complain about this book being plot focused instead of character focused all you want, but it doesn’t change how entertaining this story was. Cline wrote a protagonist that’s easy to identify with, and his writing style did an excellent job of conveying Wade’s thoughts and emotions as he went through the story. As events happen, the tone of the chapters changes. If Wade finds a game frustrating or dumb, you experience it too; when he falls in love with Art3mis, you do too; when he’s surprised that Aech is a girl (WHAAAAT?!), you freak out along with him; when shit is going seriously awry during his “capture” by the IOI but he’s not freaking out yet, you don’t either; when he realizes just how much shit he put himself into the center of when he’s at IOI headquarters, you can feel the tension along with him.
At the end of the day, books exist to tell stories. And Ready Player One is an extremely enchanting story. I finished it in a few days, not able to put it down for even *gasp* television! Really, it was the portal that I took to reading more, and I will be forever thankful for it because of that. Without it, I would never have had the patience to read the books of The Expanse, a universe which I am now in love with.
If you have a friend that’s thinking about reading some sci-fi and you don’t want to overwhelm them with the huge universes of Star Trek, Star Wars, BattleStar Galactica, Babylon Five, or anything like that, show them Ready Player One. *Especially* if they’ve ever had any interest at all in video games. They’ll thank you for it. I know from experience!