“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.”
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A world where you can live the life you have always dreamed of, to escape a reality that is a crumbling away from neglect. With most of the world’s resources gone, humans have retreated into the virtual world of the OASIS. There, you can be who you want and do what you want. When the creator of OASIS, Halliday, passes away, he leaves behind clues to find his hidden Easter egg. The reward? All of his assets (a multi-billion dollar company) and ownership of the OASIS. Dripping in 1980’s nostalgia, this book follows Wade Watts on his search for the clues.
The world of OASIS is a fascinating a magical universe that just pulls you in from the get-go. Countless number of weird worlds where countless numbers of fantasy dreams.
The 80s nostalgia that is this book is perfectly fine… if you are nostalgic for the 80s. This nostalgia is absolutely a driving factor in the book, reminiscing author to character to reader, about beloved pop culture items is one the of more appealing factors of this story. So for someone that grew up after the 80s and therefore has no, or at least very few, memories of any of the things referenced, it felt like being on the outside of an exclusive club at times. About 90% of the book is references and while they are central to the plot, (due to the fact that Halliday loved the 80s) there was a distinct disconnect for us at times in the story.
The story and puzzles can be a lot of fun. While again there was a disconnect at times, they still came across as challenging and exciting. Any action scenes are action packed and have the element of cool video game references. There were a few times where although the name of a game meant nothing to us, the idea of bringing these older games to life in a virtual reality was very intriguing.
On the character of Wade Watts is where we see one of our problems. Namely that he is not very likable. He is not a bad guy, but he comes across very high on himself. There is a scene about 50 pages in, where he and his best friend Aech tear into another character about how he wasn’t cool enough for not knowing 80’s trivia. While the other character was a jerk, this still did not look good on our main character at all. He says talks about how he is bullied but then proceeds to bully the other guy.
Furthermore, the whole idea that if you don’t know literally as much as it is possible to know about a thing then you are not a true fan is one of the more toxic things in gaming and fandom so the fact that the main character was perpetuating this was a major black mark against him.
Throughout the book he does good things, but there never comes a point where we connect with him. You may agree that what he does is right but that just makes him a protagonist, not a character.
Other characters, Art3mis, Aech, Daito,and Shato are all fleshed out and great charatcers. From their personalities to their motivations, they have good backstorys that make you care about them and who they are.
Ready Player One is a good time, no alcohol required. The bad guys are your typical bad guys but they fit the vibe of this story. I never knew how much I wanted to see Mechagodzilla fight other video game characters. I know now how awesome it is. I did enjoy this book, but be warned if you are not a fan of nostalgic 80’s. Honestly, the movie did better at connecting with me on that front.
Round Two was more of a charm for me. I am happy that I did finish this book and got through the things that made me stop the first time. More than anything else that impacts my rating for this book is simply the fact that I am not an 80s kid. I lived only a few months in the 80s and the movies and games from that decade were just not something that I grew up on so the nostalgia factor that I think this book relies on heavily to connect with its readers did nothing for me. I can’t hold that against the book or say that makes it a bad book, just that it was not the book for me.
There are some scenes and some themes that I absolutely enjoyed though. I really appreciated that one of the major messages of the book was that video games are great and all but you can’t ignore the real world in favor of them. Reality has to take precedence over an imaginary world.