I was psyched to read Ready Player One. I had heard such good things about it from patrons at the library, it was popping up all over my social media, and I knew it would be full of 80’s references. So don’t hate me for being majorly let down by this book…
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, 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.
(Description from Goodreads.)
This book had so much promise. In the first quarter, I felt like I could have been reading a script for an episode of Black Mirror. I liked learning about their virtual world, and I loved the John Hughes references (as any normal person would).
And then…it just fell apart for me.
The writing was lackluster in terms of language, but beyond that it felt like an early draft of a story. The references to 80’s pop culture served no real purpose for furthering the plot. Instead, they just seemed to exist for the sake of saying, “hey, did you catch my super cool reference there?” which got old—fast. At a certain point I just skimmed the pages to get past the references in order to get to the plot. Not fun.
But beyond that, the challenges Wade faced were often times glossed over. Cline made it too easy for his Wade to succeed, flicking away many of the challenges Wade may have faced. Wade needed to hack into a highly protected and secure system? No problem. After side characters struggle to find the answers, in walks Wade unfazed or challenged. The way Wade breezed through some of the puzzles and events he faced is made it feel like an early draft, before an editor was able to get their hands on it.
The story ultimately felt like a scaffold for a movie script. The characters didn’t feel rounded to me, but there was enough action and adventure to move readers through the book. I appreciated the world building within the book, and I think the story was still enjoyable over all. I just wish it would’ve felt less like teen fan faction and more like a fun science fiction novel. It missed the mark for me, but I can definitely see how readers who love plot over language and 80’s culture fans would find this a fun and engaging read.
Final Score: *** out of 5
If you lived in 2044 in the world of Ready Player One, would you have been as plugged in to OASIS as Wade was?
If you had won the prize, what would you have spent the money on?
What are your thoughts on the Art3mis and Wade relationship? Did you like them together?
In what ways did the characters’ avatars represent their desires and selves? What would your avatar look like?
Comment below, even if you disagree! I’m happy to hear other perspectives – after all, I so badly wanted to like it…maybe you can convince me!