By Meagan Winker, Staff Reporter

Ready Player One book cover (photo courtesy of Google Images)

Ready Player One book cover (photo courtesy of Google Images)

 

I first heard about Ernest Cline’s novel, Ready Player One, through the book

recommendation display set up inside the viewing room of the University of Maine at

Farmington’s (UMF) Mantor Library. The book promised to touch my geeky side with

its plethora of geek-culture allusions and offered up an interesting dystopian world unlike

anything I’ve read before. The novel certainly delivered in these areas, but the prose

occasionally fell flat at moments, which made me fall out of my initial love with the

Ready Player One is set in the not so distant future: 2044. Earth’s natural

resources have run out, leaving many people impoverished. But there is a bright side to

this bleak world: the online, virtual reality worlds contained within an operating system

known as OASIS. Created by James Halliday, a lover of videogames, Dungeons and

Dragons, and all things from the 1980s, the OASIS offers a break from reality where

people can shop, attend school, and play games as avatars. Everything changes when

Halliday dies, though, and he leaves his significant fortune and control of the OASIS to

whoever can find three keys he’s hidden in the code of different parts of his operating

system. No one is successful until 18-year-old Wade Watts, known as Parzival online,

finds the first key. Soon Wade must race to find the other two keys before the money-
driven company, IOI can capture all the keys and turn the free OASIS into a paid access

venture, which almost no one can afford.

The best part of this book, in my opinion, was the character diversity and the

world dynamic. The characters are all unique and it’s refreshing to read a book about

videogames where one of the main characters is a girl. The videogame world today is

less accepting of, and even nasty towards, women, yet in this novel, Cline presents his

female character, Art3mis, on equal ground as her male companions, which was really

awesome for me, as a female who likes to casually play videogames, to read. Cline also

sets up an interesting clash between a futuristic, technologically advanced society that is

simultaneously obsessed with emulating the culture of the 1980s, which creates a fun,

ironic tone for the novel.

The downfall of the novel came in the form of dragging narrative. In certain

moments, Cline would often attempt to fill the reader in on vital background information

for a particular character, but it would turn into a long history plunked in the middle of a

scene set in the present strain of narration. It would be jarring to be with Wade one

moment, then dive into his back story for almost an entire chapter, and then be suddenly

reminded that he’s been sitting at his desk at school ruminating on his past the entire

For his first published novel, Cline has done exceptionally well creating an

intriguing dystopian society. There were just some rough patches along the way.

If you have an appreciation for old videogames, Dungeons and Dragons, or

anything remotely 80s and geeky, I highly suggest you read this novel. Ready Player One

is available to check out at both the Mantor Library and the Farmington Public Library.