We’re back in business! Lucy has finally returned from holidays, so we’re onto our next debate – this time, Ready Player One by Earnest Cline. Here goes…
In 2045, nearly everyone on the depleted, depressed Planet Earth, including high school student Wade Watts, dreams of winning the untold billions at stake in a contest devised by James Halliday, late inventor of OASIS, the immersive virtual utopia that allows anyone to plug in and leave the real world behind.
Obsessed with 80’s pop culture and technology, Halliday creates a series of puzzles that can only be solved by someone with an encyclopaedic knowledge of science fiction, player-vs.-player fighting strategies, and the software mogul's own personal history. As the stakes grow higher and players begin to die in the real world, Wade must decide whether he can trust anyone else in his quest for the ultimate prize.
Nick: So Lucy, you’re finally back after swanning off to Australia. And, as I understand, you used your holiday time wisely, by reading Ready Player One.
Lucy: Hey, holidays are all about getting stuck into books! And I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed this one. I suspected I would, because basically I’m an enormous geek.
Nick: Yep, me too. What’s not to love about a book that’s basically about online game playing, eh?
Lucy: Mostly it was entirely loveable, though I had a few minor reservations. You?
Nick: Exactly the same. So, where shall we start?
Lucy: What about beginning with the aspect of the book that I adored the most – the world-building?
Nick: (with gleeful rub of hands). Yes, why not? Because you’re right, that’s totally what makes this book. Through Wade’s perspective, we’re immersed in this online world of the Oasis, where you can be anyone (via your personal avatar), go on missions to gain experience points, and collect rare artefacts and weaponry.
Lucy: That, for me, was the strongest aspect – the sheer scope of it all. The Oasis consists of numerous worlds, all with different styles and themes, and throughout the book, I found myself continually wishing I could visit them – even the school-world that Wade is stuck on at the start. Their lessons sound so fun!
Nick: You do realise you’ve just displayed your nerdiness 100% there, don’t you?
Lucy: Ha! Yes, well this is a book that will undoubtedly appeal to massive nerds like us – I’m including you in that, Nick.
Nick: Nerdy and proud! What about the pace? Because I thought that was another strong factor of this book; it raced along at a rip-roaring rate and I wasn’t bored at all.
Lucy: Agreed. The plot device of Halliday’s competition was so clever, as a reader, I was constantly speculating what the next challenge would be. I loved the pressure that was on Wade too, with the other competitors constantly gaining on him; notably the sinister Sixers.
Nick: Yes, Cline uses the threat of the antagonist to great effect. What about all the 80s references? Some other people have said that they’re heavy-handed and over-the-top.
Lucy: I disagree, but then, it’s the era I grew up in, so continual mentions of Star Wars and arcade games was never going to be a problem for me.
Nick: I loved all the references, and it made me feel so much more connected to the book, because it’s a decade that I love so much. I particularly enjoyed the parts where Wade had to be a part of an 80s film and remember all the lines!
Lucy: That was seriously good fun, I found myself wondering if I could do that. Now Nick, I know you had a bit of an issue with the handling of Art3mis, the main female lead. What were your thoughts on that?
Nick: That was my main gripe with the book, actually. She starts off totally kick-ass and cool, but then descends into being just another love interest. I was disappointed by her.
Lucy: It’s interesting, I hadn’t thought of it like that while reading it, but now you mention it… yes, she is rather 2D by the end of it. I wanted her to win the competition, I felt she was the more worthy competitor…but instead she’s sidelined a bit.
Nick: Yes, she is, and that was a shame. Also, Wade basically stalked her and yet it was presented as though that was acceptable, which didn’t sit well with me. However, I did really like Aech, Wade’s best friend. But we won’t give away that particular plot twist, shall we?
Lucy: No, save that one for the readers to find out! Yes, agreed, I liked Aech very much. I loved his chat-room too, it sounded like such a cool place to hang out.
Nick: You really did like the world-building, didn’t you? I hope they don’t invent a VR world like this in real life, we’d never hear from you again.
Lucy: Ha ha, I’d immerse myself in it, you’re right! Another little quibble I had, which was only minor, was that it felt like Wade’s victory was too convenient. Everything went too smoothly, and it all felt a little easy. I’d have liked to see him come up against more adversity.
Nick: Interesting. Yes, maybe on reflection you have a point. It did feel a bit like he was bound to be the winner, right from the start. However, I didn’t mind that too much, as it was the journey that was the fun part.
Lucy: That’s true. So, overall what would you rate it?
Nick: I’m going with a mega solid, mega enjoyable 4 / 5 stars.
Lucy: Me too. Woah, does this mean we’re totally in agreement?
Nick: My goodness, I think it does!
Lucy: A big mutual thumbs-up from us then.