Ready Player One is pure sugar, you know it isn’t anything of substance, but it is just so much fun to devour. Let me first say that I was highly skeptical coming into this book. I really thought that any book that relied so heavily on nostalgia to create a story is gimmicky. Do I still think that? Well, yah, this is extremely gimmicky, but it is a fun, fast read. If you are a gamer, like 80s nostalgia, or you just like really nerdy things, you’ll probably get some love out of this book. If you are neither of these things, I can definitely see how this book would not be for you whatsoever.
The basic premise of this book is that a billionaire passes away but before he does he leaves his fortune to be found inside a large virtual reality video game. Players will use the clues he leaves behind in order to find the easter eggs in the game to seize control of his company. Because the stakes are so high, there is a large corporation that has many gamers trying to figure out how to solve the riddles. This corporation serves as the antagonist of the book. We follow a young boy that lives his life through the virtual world and he is the first one to figure out the clue to the first riddle. He meets friends through his quest and it very much becomes a them vs the corporation book. Each riddle and clue has to do with 80s nostalgia and these players surround themselves in the 80s at all times.
The first thing I want to say is that this glorification of past eras by individuals in the future seems a little hard to believe. Yes, there is a lot of money on the line, but these kids absolutely love watching old 80s tv and movies. Now, most kids I know wouldn’t be caught dead watching these old tv shows and movies. For there to be an entire generation of gamers that are preoccupied with the 80s is a bit optimistic. Furthermore, the amount of research that these kids have put into learning and memorizing television shows and movies is beyond believable. Our main character, Wade, has put in so much time watching all these different 80s forms of media, and it just isn’t reasonable to be able to believe he had the time to do all this. We are suppose to believe that he has memorized an entire decade’s worth of media in his young life? Yah, ok.
Regardless, this book is a ton of fun, and I had a blast reading it. As a former MMO gamer, a lot of the book was very relatable to me. As someone that grew up in the 80s, I loved the nostalgia bits. I wanted more of the actual friendships between the kids and less hype because I never felt like I connected to the characters emotionally in any way. This was a fun read and I’m glad I read it when I did. I purposely waited until the hype died down some with this book and I think that made me enjoy it even more. If you go into the book jaded or cynical from the very beginning, I would recommend just waiting until you are a little more accepting about what Ready Player One will deliver.
16/25 Possible Score
4/5 World Building
3/5 Writing Style
3/5 Heart & Mind Aspect