Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. 
      Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. 
      And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. 
      For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. 

      Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 
A world at stake. 
A quest for the ultimate prize. 
Are you ready?

I actually listened to the audiobook version of this book, read by Wil Wheaton. This was my first time listening to an entire book in audio form, and I have to say, I loved it. My family and I listened to it on our road trip to California this summer, and every time we got out of the car, all I wanted to do was get right back in to listen more! I was completely engaged in the world. Wil Wheaton really brought life to the story, and made it entertaining to listen to. 

First of all, I have to say, the level of description this book has is completely out of this world. The images the words create in your mind are fully formed, and incredibly detailed. Ernest Cline really knows how to make magic with adjectives! The first chapter or so is basically description of the situation the world has gotten itself into. Ernest Cline propels us into a slightly dystopian future our society could easily come to, where people would much rather immerse themselves in a virtual reality video game, than face the reality of the dying world. It is an intriguing idea, and relatable too! What do we do when are upset with how things are going in our lives? We watch a movie, or read a book, or do something else to distract us. Something to escape from reality. When you think about it, it is generally the same idea. 

The majority of people in this book spend most, if not all of there free time in the OASIS. A virtual reality video game created by James Halliday, where you can do whatever you want, be whoever you want, and basically create a whole new life for yourself. When James Halliday died, and left his vast fortune for the person who could find his elaborately hidden Easter Egg, the world went from spending their free time in the OASIS, to living in the OASIS. Imagine spending your life in a virtual avatar body, with a virtual identity, and virtual accomplishments. You can meet other virtual people, who could be anybody in reality. It's like all those things adults tell you about internet safety. Don't talk to strangers online. Don't agree to meet them in real life. They could actually be a creepy old man... Except times one hundred. The only people you associate are those you don't really know. I thought it was fascinating. Scary, but fascinating.

Another thing I absolutely loved about this book, was the abundance of pop-culture references. Sure, I didn't get all of them, since I am a bit young to remember them all, but the ones I understood were awesome. Within the first five chapters, Mr Cline had already referenced Harry Potter and Doctor Who. (Two of my absolute favourites...) After that, I was hooked. The references also made the book more relatable. It helped you connect to the story. Even though the book takes place in the future, there is a constant presence of the culture of the past. Since James Halliday centred his Easter Egg hunt around the culture of the 1980's, everyone was into that stuff all over again. Monty Python, Blade Runner, Back to the Future, Family Ties, Star Trek, Star Wars, Galaga and Pac-Man are just a few of the many pop-culture phenomenons from the 80's that are mentioned in this book. 

Overall this is a really fun read, that gives you a glimpse into the future, while travelling back into the past simultaneously. The characterization is great, the plot is engaging, and the references are stellar. I would recommend this book to just about anybody. 

The Good: References, characterization, funny.
The Bad: You haven't read it yet! GO READ IT!!! Your life will be made better! 
The Verdict: 5/5 for sure! I'm tempted to go buy the paperback version! 

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