Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a very special book. On the face of it, it’s a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat and completely absorbing novel as you follow the journey of Wade, Aech, and Art3mis on their Easter Egg hunt. On a deeper level, this novel is a social critique about where we could be heading as a society and what is truly gut-grabbing, take-the-breath-out-of-you scary is that everything in Ready Player One could be true.
Set in 2044, Cline shows us a world where we don’t look after the planet, we don’t invest in renewable energies, we don’t maintain social care systems, we don’t spend within our means. It’s a bleak picture of war, poverty, and pollution. And the only escape is into the OASIS, a virtual reality world where people can be whoever they want to be under the guise of their avatar. Sound vaguely familiar? In today’s social media obsessed world, Cline’s world doesn’t seem that far away.
The story is a fast-paced adventure carried along by the most incredible tribute to 1980s pop culture probably ever written (see playlist below). I loved the attention to detail, from the 80s movie quotes (‘Don’t call me Shirley!) to the 27-sectors of the OASIS being shaped like a Rubik’s cube; the book is crammed with gaming, film, music references from the decade that culturally, I love most of all.
The novel is a classic case of the underdog fighting against ‘the man’, and I was instantly captivated by Wade; Cline has a wonderful way of creating empathy without pity. Wider issues of identity, discrimination as well as making the most of your lot in life despite adversity are key themes in the book yet they are addressed in such an accessible and enjoyable way. Because overall, this book is fun. It is so fun to read. I laughed a lot and I smiled all the way through it.
Since I’ve finished this book (which didn’t take long, it’s so engrossing) I have been telling everyone about it and I can’t stop thinking about it. The social messages stick with you, it really makes you consider the future of our world, where we’re going and who will be our Parzival?
Next year, Ready Player One will be released in as a film, directed by Steven Spielberg, and it looks terrific. As the guy who created most of the films referenced in the book it seems only right that he directs Ready Player One, I think it will be in safe hands. But as always with adaptations, I implore you to read the book first.
Have you read Ready Player One? Did you love it as much as I did? Let me know in the comments below.
Check out the playlist above for some excellent 80s music referenced in the book.
A few notes
Many, many thanks to Casey Neistat for recommending this book to me in the first place: https://youtu.be/Uaf6JsCxqas
Here’s the link to buy the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ready-Player-One-Ernest-Cline/dp/0099560437
And here is the trailer for the film: https://youtu.be/LiK2fhOY0nE