And it’s about time damn I did. Holy crepes and fish sticks. I always know I’ve finished a great book when it's all I want to talk about for several days after I finished it. And that’s exactly what happened with Ready Player One. I just hope the movie does the book justice.
Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Penguin Random House
So, my girlfriend has been trying to get me to read Ready Player One for a while, and I put it off because I enjoyed giving her a hard time about it. I suspected I’d probably enjoy it because several others had recommended to me as well.
Now that I have… Wow.
Ready Player One is instantly a classic for me. I absolutely loved it.
Since the release of the first movie trailer, I’ve seen a lot of people bashing the book. I assume many of them haven’t read it, and if they have, maybe they’re just jealous they didn’t come up with the idea themselves? I don’t know, but I just can’t see it. Even if you take away all the cool pop culture references, it’s still a well written, fantastic, and epic tale. It is a wonderful book. I loved it.
Early in the book, I found it enjoyable, but the moment I was hooked (Trying to limit spoilers) was when Wade Watts (Parzival) meets with Sorrento and the events directly after. Holy craip. From the moment on I couldn’t put it down. Or turn it off. I did the audiobook which was read by Will Wheaton, and he did a pretty kick ass job.
Basically, the OASIS is a virtual world meant to serve as an MMO. It became so popular people started using it for business, school, and everything in between. So in this universe, it's completely realistic to assume that the biggest Pop references would exist there and have their own 'planets'. That's how we end up with pieces of Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and about a bazillion others i'm not going to even try to list.
And again, arguing for the awesomeness of this book.. Stripping away the beloved pop culture references, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One hits most, or all, of the elements of a great story. Let's discuss a few...
Wade Owen Watts, who’s OASIS name is Parzival, is the lonely lovable loser type, trying to find his place in this virtual world. In the real world, he’s an orphan, living in the trailer stacks with his witch of an aunt. They’re broke and as a result, his only access to the OASIS keeps him trapped on the school world. So, in a sense, the events in Ready Player lead to his ‘coming of age’ story, which is a trope which everyone loves even when they say they don’t. =P
Throughout the book, we see Parzival rise and fall. Ernest Cline didn’t skimp on character development but he didn’t beat us over the head with it either. In my opinion, he hit the mark.
And, following the basic concept of plot, there’s a solid external conflict, followed by a proper escalation of that conflict, which, puts our hero in a heap of trouble. Then he must rise to the occasion to overcome. Again, he hit the bullseye.
And, there’s a solid romantic subplot between Parzival and his virtual crush, Art3mis. It’s developed with complications, touch and go, again meeting the expectations of romance fans.
And, the often less discussed subplot, but equally important, is the friendship conflict established and escalated between Wade and Aech. I can’t say too much without revealing.
And, the whole story is wrapped around a hunt for Halliday’s Easter Egg, thus establishing and escalating a mystery conflict. Again, Ernest Cline follows the formula and provides us the applicable ebb and flow of a mystery, introducing new elements, giving us hints to work with, and has the characters work through them believably.
And, I loved the supporting cast. Art3mis, Aech, Daito, Shoto, Halliday (Anorak), Ogden Morrow, and even Sorrento. All great. All vibrant and easily tagged with unique character traits, which is an important element to creating unique characters.
Just to be clear, I’m in no way accusing Ernest Cline of overusing tropes, but quite opposite, I’m applauding him for utilizing the elements of story in such a way to deliver a great novel. We hear people trash tropes all the time, but at the end of the day, most of our favorite stories include all of these elements. In truth, every story is made up of these concepts. What makes the difference is how well the author delivers them to us. In the case of Ready Player One, Ernest Cline wove all these elements together in a way that felt natural, ebbed and flowed, and in the end, made for a kick ass novel. Then, to top it all off, he found a viable way to include all of the pop culture references we love. So, what’s the problem?
Ready Player One is awesome. Period.
Now, let’s all watch the movie trailer and cross our fingers…