Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
374 pages
Published by, 2011
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I most likely won’t be coming back to this one.


Reviewed by Indiana

Spoiler-free review

By now, most people probably know what this one is about. There’s a boy and he goes into this video game (called the Oasis) to try to win more money than I can ever imagine having, by immersing himself into 80s pop culture. Sounds a little strange? I suppose it is.

However, my problem was not with the premise, which I thought was actually good. My problem was that old “show, don’t tell” rule was completely abandoned. For most of the book, the protagonist is just talking at the reader, telling the reader all about his vast knowledge of such and such video game, or of 80s music or movies. It got old really fast and I found myself skimming because I either already knew the movies/music/games he was talking about or I didn’t want to be talked at; I just wanted the story to go on.

Cline did seem to create an interesting world outside of the Oasis. Society has broken down, people have to get meal tickets just to survive and there seems to be an enormous divide between the rich and the poor. Many people just seem to be hiding out in the Oasis, distracting themselves from how horrible their physical world has become. At the end of the book one of the wise characters advises the protagonist to remember to live in the real world, as if that were the moral of the story. Yet, Cline didn’t really explore the real world too much, which was something I wished he would. As an author, if you’re going to describe a really troubled world, which the protagonist has the ability to impact, and you don’t explore that world/society, you leave a gaping plot hole (or maybe it’s just a majorly missed opportunity).

I liked that the book seemed to feel like a classic, almost Harry Potter-like story at some parts. When the protagonist finds out how impossible different stages in the challenge are or when he has to work together with a few friends to beat a game or two, it feels like Cline has captured the essence of a good fantasy.

But there were so many other elements to the storyline that just didn’t come together for me that I can’t give this one a rave review.

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