Title: Ready Player One
Written by: Ernest Cline
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Paperback: 385 pages
“Halliday’s Easter egg gradually moved into the realm of urban legend, and the ever-dwindling tribe of gunters gradually became the object of ridicule….
And another year went by.
Then, on the evening of February 11th, 2045, an avatar’s name appeared on the top of the Scoreboard, for the whole world to see. After five long years, the Copper Key had finally been found, by an eighteen-year-old kid living in a trailer park on the outskirts of Oklahoma City.
That kid was me.” (Page 13-14)
Despite its seventeen/eighteen-year-old, video game obsessed protagonist named Wade, Ready Player One is not shelved as a young adult novel. When I picked up this book, I had seen the movie posters for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and assumed because of how young the kids looked this was going to be just like The Westing Game (which involves a rich guy and his last will and puzzlement) (review HERE) – but with visors and Pac-Man.
Man was I wrong.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with more swearing. Almost every page had multiple profanities, and God’s name was taken in vain at least once per chapter.
Not only was there a lot of cursing, there was also a lot of VERY inappropriate content. Everything from boys trash talking each other, to the main character going to an online brothel and talking about sex.
Definitely not a young adult novel.
Yet teens are reading this book because of the young protagonist and its focus on video games.
Because it’s shelved as adult fiction, adults are also reading the book. However, a lot of them don’t like it because they feel the book is geared towards a younger audience.
Personally, I think Ernest Cline wrote the book for teens and simply didn’t tone down the adult content enough.
After that rant I will admit I enjoyed the plot of Ready Player One. It reminded me of one of my favorite books: The Westing Game, with the added flare of 1980s trivia and cursing.
Now that I’ve read this book I probably know more about 1980’s video games, movies, music, and television shows than my parents.
One of the weird things about the book was the lack of real danger for Wade. True, there is eventually danger from the Sixers, but most of the action takes place in the virtual world of OASIS, so the worst that could happen is Wade’s avatar dying. It’s kind of ridiculous when you think about how, for most of the book, Wade is in a chair, wearing a visor, fighting video game bad guys (who are, coincidentally, controlled by men millions of miles away, sitting in chairs, and wearing visors).
What has this world come to that we willingly read books about fictional people playing video games – within video games?
Continuing with the positive –
The book was funny at times, and I did enjoy learning useless trivia about the 1980s – which I’m sure will someday save my life.
I liked the mystery of The Halliday Hunt, and, despite the obvious obsession with video games, the author managed to squeeze in a brief message about how we shouldn’t spend our whole lives on/with electronics.
The obsession with electronics was one part that threw me out of the story – at first. The entire world is infatuated with OASIS, school is virtual, money is virtual, friends are virtual, even some marriages are virtual. Everything is done online and, until I thought about it, that world seemed ridiculously far-fetched.
But it’s not.
Our society already has online schools, we already pay for items using credit cards, we have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter “friends,” and online dating is a thing. A study showed that twenty percent of one-year-olds have a personal tablet, and by the age of four, almost half have a television. Not-to-mention that twenty-eight percent of two-year-olds know how to navigate an electronic device on their own (1).
Which is more than I can do some days.
I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone. There is too much swearing and the inappropriate situations don’t add anything to the book except sections to skim-read.
However, I do encourage readers of all ages to check out The Westing Game (again review HERE).
For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE
Age Range: Adults who grew up in, or just really like, the 1980s.
Cautions – *Contains Slight Spoilers*
Violence: Literally millions of avatars die (crashes, explosions, bombs, etc.). Wade kills avatars because they annoy him, and for revenge. Robot avatar thingies have various limbs chopped off during one-on-one fighting. In real life, a man is thrown out his apartment window and the media reports it as suicide. A trailer stack is blown-up and everyone in the trailers die. Wade is forcibly removed from his apartment. Wade is tagged with a plastic earring and his ear bleeds heavily when he removes it. The Sixers plan on murdering the High Five.
Sensuality: Two characters kiss as avatars and in real life. There is a love triangle mentioned. Wade’s mom worked at an online brothel. Wade goes to an online brothel and buys a doll to go with the simulation. Intimate relationships, rape, male and female body-parts, and pedophiles are freely discussed.
Profanity: b—h, h–l, s–k, p–s, c–p, b——t, s–t, f–k, a–, b—–d, d–n, plus “clever” combinations of profanity and perfectly innocent words that were just minding their own @#*!% business. God’s name is taken in vain multiple times per chapter.
Other(drugs/alcohol): Avatars drink at a party. Wade’s aunt takes drugs and his mom died of a drug overdose. Wade’s aunt only puts up with having him live in her trailer because of the food vouchers she gets for him. One character is gay. Avatars flip the finger at other avatars. Global Warming is stated as a fact. Wade is depressed in the beginning of the story. The book degrades human life with a rundown of how we “evolved” from lower life forms. It claims there is no God, no heaven, and no hope; we are here to die.
Personal Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 0 out of 5 stars
~Book Review by Grace Heine
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