This is my review of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
This is an acclaimed (by the Internet, but that counts, doesn’t it?) YA sci-fi dystopian novel. Possibly the only novel fitting these criteria that I hadn’t read yet. And it didn’t let me down!
Wade Owen Watts is a child of the future, who was (almost literally) raised by the Internet. In this new world, house rents are dependent on Wi-Fi availability, and free education is available for all children via virtual reality. Meanwhile, a wealthy, eccentric, videogame maker has left a challenge to children everywhere. I don’t recall what the reward was, but this is basically Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘s ‘golden ticket’.
Our hero’s only way out of his gloomy urban slum is winning this challenge, and he has dedicated years of his life to studying 80s geek culture in search of clues- much like thousands of other teens all over the globe. The plot is cliched, but definitely not boring. You can see the ending from hundreds of pages away, but that doesn’t make the story any less enjoyable.
Master list of cliches and/or stereotypes in this book:
- Hero gets the girl in the end
- Japanese kids are hardworking and intense
- Token racial minority in America
- Reference to white trash culture because hero has to be white
- Reminder that people fake their identities on the Internet
- Geeks are unattractive, but can undergo quick transformation to get aforementioned girl
- One or more of the token racial minorities will die
- Technology giant built from humble beginnings by pair of hardworking youngsters in their garage
- Eccentric millionaire
- Friendship ends because of a fight over a girl
This list is not exhaustive (or well-formatted), but this site, TV Tropes does a good job of describing common tropes in TV and movies.
The writing style of this book is slightly confusing. It reads like a YA action novel but is littered with 80’s geek culture references. I’m a bit too old for YA myself, but wasn’t even around in the 80s, let alone playing videogames. 99% of the pop culture references went over my head, but luckily they did not have much relevance to the plot.
4/5 from me. Recommended for anyone who enjoys fast paced stories without too many subtleties.