I’m a big fan of novels that take video games, books etc (escapes from reality) and turn them into works of literature. The first I read was Reamde by Neal Stephenson and loved the concept of that novel, and found this one slightly similar in the way in which the virtual world was used in relation to reality.
Ready Player One follows Wade Watts as he attempts to complete a quest left for players of the virtual reality world OASIS by its creator, James Halliday. In this quest, Wade must bring his knowledge of Halliday’s obsession with the 1980’s and put it to the test completing arcade games, simulating films and, in amongst all of that, hiding from the Sixers who are intent on ridding him from the real and virtual world in an attempt to control OASIS.
The novel is gripping from the offset, with Wade Watts being a truly understandable, three-dimensional, and complicated character in the way he perfectly portrays our current generation of teenagers immersed in the world of virtual reality. I found myself connecting with the character not long into the novel; my own experiences within virtual realities such as World of Warcraft helping me to relate with Wade and the various situations he finds himself in. Cline presents all these scenarios in perfect detail with immersive language that draws the reader in helping to understand the emotions going through all the characters involved.
Cline’s world-building skills are incredible, providing enough description to present a vivid image without overcompensating. The world is built through Wade’s first-person narrative providing a perspective on OASIS that seems all too familiar as he describes pixelated planets, various supernatural and magical creatures, the almost realistic qualities of a virtual world. It is clear from the beginning that OASIS is far more advanced than many modern day takes on MMORPG’s such as WoW but, as mentioned, there are very familiar aspects.
What I liked most about OASIS was the likeness, yet also difference, to the real world. We are made aware that OASIS is used as an almost constant escape from a reality that has been ravaged by time; a world destroyed by war, economics, global warming. The similarities are found in the way in which politics and real-life situations are merged into the world of OASIS with companies in reality providing goods and services through OASIS, the currency of both worlds being used interchangeably between the two, the competitive nature of Halliday’s quest resulting in deaths both on Earth and in OASIS. It shows the truth of virtual reality and how people try to escape the truth to be confronted with the same in a world that doesn’t exist.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in science fiction, fantasy, world-building, virtual reality. It’s a mix of genres piled into one with some brilliant writing, epic world-building, and three-dimensional characters that develop exponentially as the novel progresses.