Ready Player One Book Review - Joel Arndt
Book Reviews

Ready Player One: Proof of the Power of Nostalgia


Ready Player One is fun. I smiled a lot. There’s a strong nostalgic pull to it, which I think may be the leg it rests on. Because after that, it’s not really an outstanding story. If you’re looking for an easy read that gives you a safe ride down memory lane and through some genuinely enjoyable environments, then pick up a copy from the library and give it a week (if you’re the busy sort).

I won’t worry about summarizing the plot here, because you can find that in a thousand places by googling “Ready Player One.” So if you haven’t read the book yet and intend to, don’t read on. Spoilers ahead.

If you have read the book, let’s compare notes. I love ranting and raving about books with people. I especially love defending favourite elements in the story that everyone else didn’t automatically love. Ask any of my co-workers. I’m sure some of them get annoyed when I launch into a book review during a dead minute at the coffee shop.

Ready Player One – Not 100% Unique, But Still Good Fun

It reminded me a bit of Harry Potter in the beginning – an orphaned kid living with an aunt who doesn’t care about him. Thankfully, that’s where the similarities end. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a complete Potter Head. I just appreciate an original plot.) Especially considering his aunt dies. Beyond that, Wade works for his success. Of course, he gets a little help from his friends, but even then, being a gunter is solo work, which Cline emphasizes a lot.

In the end, Wade says that he needs his friends, that he couldn’t have done it without them. This moment was kind of undermined by the fact that he just executed his master plan and outwitted the enemy, all on his own. Although, he really does lean on his friends to complete most of the third gate.

There weren’t too many surprising moments in the book. I wasn’t sure if IOI would actually blow up the stacks and it was played off as if it might not happen. I was glad it did. It shook up the story enough to pull it away from any drama with his aunt, or from being a mediocre, day-to-day, slice-of-life, high school drama. That being said, I wish Cline had worked in more of old Mrs. Gilmore. I might have felt her loss if she was in more than one chapter.

Another surprising moment was when Og showed up in the Basement. I honestly thought that it was Sorento who hacked the basement. I kept anticipating a turn for the worse.

This is something else I noticed. Other than the stacks blowing up, there are no believable, “He’s screwed,” moments. Everything pretty much goes as planned for Wade. Of course, IOI getting the crystal key and securing the third gate before anyone else was a major turn for the worse, but, to me, it never felt like the heroes were truly backed into a corner.

That’s why I say Ready Player One is a safe ride. I expected everything to go to shit at some point, but it never did. Especially when Wade was indentured at IOI. So much could have blown up there.

I guess those are my major beefs. Here’s what I loved:

  • The history of nerdom. All the fantasy, sci-fi, and gaming history had me wishing I still had time to play games. I had to look up many of the movie and game references, too. As a kid, I wasn’t as big of a nerd as I wanted to be (anything to do with magic wasn’t allowed in my home and we didn’t own a game system till I was in highschool). This had me wishing I got to play a little more Nintendo as a kid.
  • Wade wasn’t the chosen one. He worked his ass off to prepare, so that when the time came, he knew his stuff. That’s pretty gratifying.
  • The massive battle at the end was fun. I’m a sucker for mech battles.
  • When Wade went to the 2112 planet, I pulled up Rush’s album on Spotify and listened to it while I read through that section. Just as Wade discovered the guitar behind the waterfalls, the “Discovery” track played. That was a cool experience.
  • The OASIS is my teenage dream. From the time I learned how to use a screwdriver, I took computers apart and put them back together again (with moderate success). I was enamoured with the internet. The first computer in our house was in my parent’s bedroom. I spent hours on Neopets’ role playing forums. My parents weren’t fond of that. Then the computer was in the basement. I programed some stupid little animations in BASIC, built websites with Flash and ActionScript, and failed miserably at most text RPGs I started. If the Oasis existed when I was a teen, my parents would have had a hard time pulling me out. These days (almost 30), I’m pretty enamoured with reality, particularly with studying successful people of the past. But imagining the virtual environment was a joy.

Now time for you to dish

Seriously, I want to know what you thought of Ready Player One. And I want to know what you thought about what I thought about the book. (I haven’t seen the movie yet, so it’s no use talking about any comparisons, shortfalls or improvements yet.)

Comment with your two cents. It’s worth a little more right now.

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