Book Review – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One

TITLE:  Ready Player One

SERIES:  N/A

AUTHOR:  Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton

FORMAT:  Audio Book

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  N/A

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  4.31 out of 5 stars; 181,994 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

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 died 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 20th 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.

Narrator Wil Wheaton is an American actor and writer best known for his role as Wesley Crusher in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for playing Gordie Lachance in the film Stand By Me. More recently, he has appeared in several episodes of the TV series The Big Bang Theory as himself.

DATES READ:  June 22nd-July 8th, 2015

MY REVIEW:

I was just another sad, lost, lonely soul, wasting his life on a glorified videogame.~Wade

This book, it is difficult for me to put into words just how this book affected me…This isn’t just a book which celebrates and glorifies geek culture, reminding us of long forgotten classics ranging from music and movies to games branching across every system imaginable.  This book also deeply criticizes this same culture where criticism is due – a point which I greatly appreciated.  The issues Cline criticizes shouldn’t just be examined as futuristic issues, rather these issues are present in today’s society and demand due attention.  Geek culture, video game culture, the present day culture which is slated to evolve into the culture inside Cline’s OASIS is pitted with so much hate which individuals are able to openly express behind a veil of anonymity – it is truly frightening.  I speak from my own experiences in regards to this – I have experienced both sides of the anonymous life in the online gaming world, I have formed some amazing friendships and read words typed with no other purpose than to demean or hurt an individual.  Cline openly criticizes some of the major issues related to the principle of anonymity within the virtual world.

There are no Girls on the Internet

Yes, in case you didn’t know approximately 50% of the world’s total population doesn’t actually utilize the internet!  This is one of many long standing jokes found within the online video game community which promotes the stereotype that there is no such thing as female gamers.  I had so much appreciation for Art3mis and Aech as a fellow female gamer because they were contenders to win the contest on their own skill, knowledge, and merits in a culture where females aren’t exactly taken seriously.  Aech went to great lengths to be taken seriously, so much so that her entire online persona embodied a straight white Caucasian male rather than her lesbian African-American female self.  I admit, I was stunned by that reveal!  I have mad respect for Wade/Parzival because when he actually meets Aech in person he is able to recognize that even though Aech looks nothing like the avatar portrayed in the OASIS, their friendship is still exactly the same and I love that.  Many see Art3mis as nothing more than a pretty face even though she authors a popular and informative blog chronicling her hunt for the egg – hell, she was actually the first individual to find the location of the first key and continued to exhibit her resourcefulness throughout the rest of the competition.  It was refreshing to see female characters succeed on their own merits over the course of this competition.

I have already mentioned how stunned I was regarding Aech and how much I love this character, but I have to ask a serious question:  How horrible is our world if she felt that she had to hide so much of who she really is?  Aech is a top rated battle arena combatant and extremely popular among other gunters hosting a private chat room housing a large amount of materials mentioned specifically by Halliday at the inception of the hunt with a pretty exclusive guest list, how drastically would impressions change had Aech’s avatar been a more accurate portrayal of Aech in real life?  Would Aech have been seen in much the same way as Art3mis, just another pretty face?  Would she have still had the same opportunities afforded to her male avatar, such as competing in the battle arena?  I honestly don’t know the answers to those questions, but I like to hope that there wouldn’t be a difference – I would hope that her race, her gender, and her sexuality would not change the opportunities available to her or how people viewed her because she is still the exact same person.  And there is the biggest lesson that I hope everyone was able to come away with, so long as we remain true to who we really are that is all that truly matters.

In addition to the marvelous story, this was my first audio book experience and I absolutely love Wil Wheaton’s narration!  Wheaton did a fantastic job of narrating Wade’s story and adventure in the OASIS searching for Halliday’s Easter Egg.  Wheaton’s inflections during Wade’s rants and ramblings were perfection, it felt as if Wheaton himself was geeking out just as much as Wade was at times which made the reading feel all the more genuine – it made Wade and his experience all the more realistic.  If you have already read the book, but haven’t experienced the audio book – you should definitely give it a shot!

TL;DR REVIEW:  5 out of 5 stars.  This book is officially, my new favorite read of 2015 and it is a book that I think everyone should read because of its brutally honest and critical outlook at how our society functions because of the introduction of the combination of the Internet and anonymity.  This book serves as a reminder that there is a person on the other side of the screen, a real living breathing human being who feels those emotions tied to words of hate scrolling through a chat window.  Read this book, just read it.

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4 Comments

    • Thanks so much for your compliments! I agree that you should definitely give the audio book a try if you haven’t, Wil Wheaton’s narration really amplified Wade’s story. The issues and stereotyping mentioned by Cline are major societal problems which have the potential for some terrible consequences if left unchecked. The rampant growth of technology and the inability of lawmakers to keep up with said growth allow for new forms of bullying/crime/harassment/stalking/etc. to occur without proper protection or an adequate form of punishment to deter would be perpetrators. Cline’s novel truly does raise a lot of questions about the role of technology in society as well as the idea of anonymity – it is just a very interesting topic to discuss/think on. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!

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