There is so much I want to talk about in regards to this book it’s unreal, and I don’t even know where to begin. There were parts that I really, really, enjoyed, and likewise there were parts that I didn’t enjoy at all. Ah, where to start? [Yes, it would look like I am stalling for time as I gather my thoughts about this book].
Let’s start with the plot. The year is 2044. The world has gone down the drain, and the overpopulated planet tends to spend most of its’ time in something called the OASIS. An online, fully interactive, virtual reality where absolutely anything is possible. The creator of the OASIS, a guy named Halliday, dies and leaves all his money to the first person who solves his secret mysteries and collects his Easter Egg hidden within the depths of the virtual reality. Oh yeah, the quest to find the egg is based on 80’s pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy etc. It’s a proper geek fest.
The main character, Wade [online alias “Parzival”] has dedicated most of his life to searching for the Easter Egg. And from there we have out plot.
I think the ending is pretty obvious, and I won’t give it away if you are reading or think otherwise, but I liked how the ending happened.
I really enjoyed this book, however the first half [possibly] a bit more I felt was rather more filler than actually getting down and into the plot. The real world wasn’t painted in a particularly good fashion, largely overpopulated, living in overcrowded stacks, unemployed, but addicted to escaping the reality by living in the OASIS where you could be anything you wanted to be.
There are a lot of references to the 80’s , whether it’s TV shows, games, computer games, Dungeon and Dragons and the suchlike. Some of this I feel was a bit of worthless name dropping and general, but unnecessary, homage to the decade in question. I favourite bit of 80’s pop culture is at the end, and I’ll let you find out what that is for yourselves.
I think one of the main, but not nearly enough touched upon topics is the issue of the neglect that the entire population seems to be neglecting the real world, that everything is going to pot because nobody seems to be able to stay logged out of OASIS to get the world up and running again. Death, decay, drugs, over population, and unemployment reign supreme, but people aren’t willing to do anything about it, except sit logged into the OASIS and ignore the real world.
Inside the OASIS is a role playing game, wherein the character can level up and advance through the ranks, gaining power, weapons, inventory by fighting each other, completing quests and combating monsters that appear in the wild and in the dungeons. In games that I’ve played [typically PlayStation games – I tried RuneScape once but didn’t like it] it takes quite some time to level up your character, and it annoyed me a bit at just how quickly Parzival levelled up and became a 99th level character, alongside his online friends.
Also, he just seemed too insanely up and into 80s knowledge considering I think he was only 19 at the start of the book, and went to school via OASIS, yet he has all this considerable time and dedication playing through an entire repertoire of classic arcade games, television shows, and music. There are references to later 90s culture but it’s really all about the 80s. I know that we all have our obsessions, but 10 years worth of knowledge – it just seems pretty unrealistic that one person can carry all this information inside him [and his “grail diary”].
There is another aspect of this book that I loved, more so because I feel as though I can relate to that part of the book more than the theme of the 80s and that’s the formation of online friendships that eventually traverse the realms of the virtual reality to reality. When I first discovered the realms of online fandoms I quickly made online friends, sharing in the worlds like Harry Potter and The Wheel of Time and so many more. These friends have become more than just online friends, and I consider these people the closest friends that I have ever had. I suppose it’s because, and this is also touched upon in the book, when you make online friends you can alter your look, your gender or whatever, but you can be yourself, be someone that you may not be able to be in the real world. When it eventually comes to meeting these people you already know each other, so it’s not about first impressions or anything like that – it’s about continuing a relationship that you already have. And that to me is the beautiful outcome of making online friends. [Of course, there is the dangerous aspect to it as well, but it isn’t something that I shall dwell on here].
Once this book got going it didn’t take long to devour, but as mentioned the first part of the book was more filler than action, but once it progressed a bit it was a joy to read. There was some repetition throughout the beginning of the book, and through some of the subjects that are mentioned that perhaps a better proofread or editing could have dealt with, but otherwise it was good.
I really hope that others enjoy this as I did, even if you, like me, can’t relate to the 80s. [Also, I can’t help but be reminded of this music video:
I don’t feel as though I’ve done this book the right justice in writing this, but I hope you have enjoyed my views on it!
Ready Player One,