“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.”
It's the year 2044 and Earth is as expected. Polluted, out of fossil fuels, riots everywhere. While some things never change - there is still a huge gap between the rich and the poor and half of the world is starving. All in all, absolutely believable and very likely to happen.
The only sanctuary people have is called OASIS - a massively multiplayer online virtual reality simulation that dominates all human activity. Its creator James Halliday had died five years earlier, leaving a will stating that his quarter-trillion-dollar fortune and controlling ownership of the OASIS will be awarded to the first person to find an Easter egg he had hidden behind a series of three gates unlocked by hidden keys. The only clues are Halliday's video will and his published journal.
Our hero Wade Watts has embraced the quest for the Easter egg as his personal mission. All his spare time is spent logged into OASIS and learning as much as possible about the Halliday himself and his preferences in life. Wade spends his time playing old vintage video games, watching eighties tv shows and movies, listening to the eighties music and reading everything Halliday listed as his liking.
Unfortunately Wade is a poor orphan who doesn't have much money so he is stuck with the low level avatar and on the same planet Ludus where his high school is located. Even though that is an enormous disadvantage it turned out that it was the best place to be. Because the first gate with the first key on locating the Easter egg was right here under his nose.
Wade or rather his avatar Parzival was suddenly the most famous person in the world after successfully clearing the first gate. And thousands joined the hunt right after him including the foreboding IOI, an imperialistic corporation who stops at nothing to achieve its goal, not even at murder and extortion.
Among the gunters who hurried and joined the hunt were also H., Parzival's long time friend and confidant, Art3mis, Parzival's crush and Daito and Shoto who acted as a team. They were known as the high five and later on they will all act as a team, well most of them anyway.
I am positively surprised and delighted after reading this book. It was recommended to me by my boyfriend and I didn't know how much will it please me since I'm not a gamer (the furthest I got was Age of Empires, Diablo and Neverwinter Nights) or an eighties trivia fan (as one born in the 1990).
But, I must admit that I loved it. Everything about it. The author masterfully combined the video games references with the eighties trivia with the virtual world and bleak future of mankind.
The hero of the story is your everyday boy who spends all of his time in a virtual world. The reason is quite simple. He is poor and lives with his aunt. He attends high school in OASIS because it is free. Also, in a virtual world you can do whatever you want and you can look however you wish.
You can see the appeal of that, can't you? The ideals of beauty and inequality in races, genders, sexual orientations can make people change their appearance and live their life as they think they should appear to others. Also, in a virtual world it is much easier to speak to others and do things you would never consider doing in real life because they are either too dangerous or too embarrassing or too demanding.
Wade is an eighteen year old with a lot of free time on his hands and he uses that time to learn about the Halliday and the egg and it pays off for him. Soon he is swept in an adventure of his life. He will make friends, enemies, fall in love, come to make hard decisions and risk his life numerous times.
“You'd be amazed how much research you can get done when you have no life whatsoever.”
With all of his time devoted to a seemingly endless puzzle-solving and making his relationship with Art3mis more realistic, Wade will also come to realize one important thing.
After all that time spent in the OASIS doing what he loved and being who he thought he should be, he realized that no matter how good things may be going for him in a virtual world and how real it may seem, it wasn't. It wasn't reality and reality was always better even when it was worse.
“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 realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”
Wade understood that soon after he met Art3mis. They were going on dates, having fun, talking, kissing but that wasn't enough somehow. Wade wanted more. He wanted to meet her in real life, he wanted to feel her skin and her lips and see her under the real sun. And that's just it.
It doesn't matter how estranged we may be from the real world, it's still the only life we have.
"Ready Player One" is an amazing novel also because you can see it from so many different angles. For me that was mostly the problems of the virtual/real world, estranged people and the social gap between rich/poor. Whereas my boyfriend would surely point out the adventure or the quest itself, the action and all the video game trivia you can find in there.
The non-gamers and gamers perspective is obviously different from the very beginning. And I would love to read a sincere review of this book from a hardcore gamer but I haven't found one in the top reviews neither on Goodreads or Booklikes.
I qualify myself as a complete non-gamer and focus more on the issues of existence whereas gamers will get much more technical with you.
Regardless of which side you stand on, you will love this book if you give it a chance. Trust me. If you don't feel like reading it, you can listen to the audio version of the book narrated by Wil Wheaton which I must admit was pretty great. And I don't do audio books often. And when I do it is only a few chapters here and there while I read the rest.
Try it, fall in love with it and if you are a hardcore gamer, let me know, I would love to see it from your perspective.
“Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.”