Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

11472275Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Released: 16th August 2011
Published by: Random House 
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Library
Pages: 372
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
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 dies 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 twentieth 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.
When I'd first come across Ready Player One, I have to admit I had my doubts over how much I'd really enjoy it...

After all, I'm:
- Not really much of a gamer
- Not a person who grew up in or have a lot of knowledge about 80's pop culture
- Not a huge fan of scifi


I came to regard it with a curiosity that was ultimately hard to ignore. It was just one of those books which I knew I would be drawn to read eventually, since the premise was so fascinating and it had gotten so much praise from other booklovers out there.

And so, despite my initial doubts, this has turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year!

And I'm about to tell you why.


Ready Player One is a science fiction adventure that is as enchanting as it is beguiling. While on the surface it may seem like just the sort of thing only the stereotypical 'geeky gamer' will enjoy, it really is so much more. Though saturated with references to the pop culture of times gone by, in essence this is a story which tackles the inherent fallacies of a virtual world, a battle between good, evil, integrity and ethics, friendship, and a healthy dose of competition. I honestly surprised myself with how much I ended up loving this book, because it has so many of these hidden complexities and that mystical quality where no matter what you're doing, or where you are - you just can't help but be enraptured by this world Ernest Cline has created.

It was the dawn of a new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a video game. 

Who wouldn't want to live in a virtual reality where limitless possibilities extend across the horizon and the banalities of the real world merely fade into the distance? The answer presented in this book in the OASIS - a system developed by the enigmatic James Halliday. Wade is our protagonist, the ordinary underdog from humble beginnings who is obsessed with gaming and on a quest to complete the challenges his hero has left to society. 

Throughout the story, his journey is an exhilarating one which takes the most whimsical turns, in directions that defy logic and enchant the reader. Cline's masterful storytelling takes us on a journey through different dimensions and planets - all with that distinctive 80's charm which punctuates the whole novel. Wade is a character who holds a sense of justice, and wishes to maintain the integrity of the OASIS which had become his greatest escape from his otherwise meager existence. With the earth falling to pieces around him and the rest of humanity, this 'game' is seemingly the only good thing left; something to salvage and immerse himself in.  

Something which really stood out to me in this book aside from the thrill of the riddles throughout and dynamic settings was the deeper message here. There have been other books I've been totally mesmerized by because they take this idea of reality and a virtual one (eg. the Foreverland series), and this is no different. It too has a wow factor which is unmistakable. In a situation where the line between fact and fiction, morality and immorality are blurred, there is scope for so many complex antitheses to play out. This combination of adventure and deeper elements which make you think brought this book to a whole other level. 

In a competitive environment where so many others on the scoreboard are vying for the same prize, there is always that question of who to trust where Wade (or 'Parzival' as we come to know him) is concerned. Avatars aren't 'real' people, so nobody can be truly as they seem. Can one's personality really transcend a digital representation? This is the question which Wade must tackle, and in many ways we do as well in our own ordinary lives. As he proves, it's also a matter of becoming more comfortable in your own skin (a cliche, but one that rings true). 

From being a geeky, reclusive teen, to one who is (okay still in some ways both of those things), but with a renewed sense of confidence, it's fair to say that the character development was done well here. Basically - being a nerd pays off!

I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realised, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real. 


In all, I'm so glad I took a chance on this book, and I'll definitely be off reading more in the scifi genre now - so hit me with your recommendations! Ready Player One is intelligently written, superbly executed and is about more than just gaming. Even if you're like me and not quite sure whether it's for you, believe me in saying it's worth a try. It'll take you into a reality all of its own...


  1. Glad you enjoyed this one. I did , too. "In a situation where the line between fact and fiction, morality and immorality are blurred, there is scope for so many complex antitheses to play out." -- I like the way you put this!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by, and I'm glad you enjoyed my review! :)

  2. Beautifully written reviews as usual, Eugenia. I have a copy of this book but haven't been in the mood for it. I thought it was just pure entertainment and action, so I'm glad that you highlighted it had deeper themes as well - I have to push this up the TBR!
    Aentee at Read at Midnight

    1. Thanks so much Aentee! <3 It's definitely a book with more than what initially meets the eye, I hope you like it too :)

  3. Yessss I am so glad you loved this one Genie! It is one of my favourite books of all time and I definitely agree everyone can take something from it just from how unique and creative it was!

    1. It really stood out to me as a book I didn't think I'd love, but ended up enjoying all the more. It was amazing, I'm so glad to have read it and will be recommending it to more people!


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