Ready Player One is author Ernest Cline’s love letter to the 80’s in novel form. It’s 2044 and the world has become an almost unbearable place to live. An energy crisis has let to economic turmoil around the word and the environment has continued to decay. Because of reality’s almost unendurable nature, people spend most of their time in the fully immersive, digital world of OASIS created by James Halliday. Upon his death, Halliday bequeathed his fortune and control of OASIS to the person who can find the hidden egg, somewhere in it’s massive universe of worlds. What follows is a geeks biggest dream, that all that nerd knowledge would actually save the world one day. Ready Player One is a pop-culture infused adventure as Wade Watts tries to uncover the egg before he’s out of lives, figuratively and literally.
Choosing The Matrix
What if reality became so oppressive to deal with that you would willingly choose The Matrix. This is exactly what happens in Ready Player One. People choose to live in the digital world where they can be whoever they want, look however they want and become the idealized version of themselves. It’s not too hard to imagine. We already live in a society that is Instagramed and Facebooked to the point of absurdity. It is not who most of us really are, it’s just our best selves in 1’s and 0’s. We photoshop our lives and present what we want people to see. OASIS takes this to the nth degree. Don’t like being short, male, female or even human, then your avatar can be anything you desire. It’s the ultimate extreme makeover.
On top of this, it’s the perfect place to hide away from everything reality has to offer. Again, there are so many ways this already happens today. Twitter allows us to be anyone we want and the “relationships” there are comfortable since it’s easy to be whatever anyone wants when you’re hidden behind a profile picture and screens. It’s prophetic that Halliday’s avatar says to Wade,
“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 my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real. Do you understand?”
There is nothing easy about life and there is nothing wrong with social media. Personally it has lead to some life-changing relationships in the real world with real people. Ready Player One is a fantastic reminder that there is no substitute for reality itself, everything else is just a self-decieving fantasy.
Ready Player One is an impressive first novel by Cline and honestly a good time. There really is so much to think about as Wade and his friends rush to solve the mystery of Halliday’s ultimate video game quest. If you love good stories and the pop culture of yesteryear this is certainly the book for you.