Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was a more recent CBR9 book exchange gift.
The backlash for the book was pretty intense, but with the recent film adaptation, I was curious to read it for myself. Thus, I was glad my Mocha Girls Read book club picked it for our white male author theme. I ended up finishing it over 4th of July and surprisingly enjoyed the pop culture filled story.
The story follows Wade on an epic quest to essentially save the internet from a fascist capitalist demise. A genius programmer, Halliday created The Oasis, a virtual world so amazing that everyone prefers to live in it 24/7. When he dies, instead of leaving the game to his board or even his former partner & best friend, he creates a contest to find his egg, a nod to game easter eggs. He hides 3 keys to the egg within The Oasis. To inherit the whole shebang, you must follow the clues and defeat challenges for the keys. He was so good at hiding it that years go by before anyone finds a key. That is until Wade cracks it. Deciphering the clues isn’t the only obstacle. An evil corporation exploits people who are addicted to virtual reality. They loan out virtual money and enslave people who can’t pay their bills. To protect their own profits, they are willing to literally kill to win the egg for themselves. They employ game experts called Oologists and an army of gamers to throw at the challenges.
To protect the integrity of Halliday’s creation, Wade and his fellow true gamers set out to win the egg. Wade’s BFF Aech and Wade’s love interest, the mysterious Artemis, are close behind him in the race. Wade becomes slightly obsessed with Artemis before ever meeting her, which I have to admit is very problematic and unhealthy. He doesn’t have many social skills since living his life including school online in a virtual reality. His obsession with Artemis eventually creates a rift between Aech and himself. Instead of listening to her when she rejects him or his friend’s warning, he decides to become to win the contest to woo her back to him. In the end, he learns that being alone isn’t the answer.
As a child of the 80s and early NES adopter, this book was catnip for me. The love story was pretty weak, but thankful it wasn’t a bigger focus in the book. I kept turning the pages expecting a big offense to my sensibilities but none arrived. Some of my fellow book club members couldn’t stomach a white male protagonist with poor social skills. The movie softened the plot, which was not unexpected for a PG-13 Spielberg adaptation. I would actually recommend the movie over the book if you rather not be caught up in Wade’s mind for 300+ pages. It’s one of those movies when they’re on, I will watch it and enjoy the ride.
Read more of my review on my blog.