IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within the world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win – and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

-Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (Goodreads)

Ready Player One captures the challenges that emerge from new and ubiquitous technology and is an exciting work of science fiction — it gives us a peek into the future of current technologies but also is heavily influenced by our past pop culture. While the novel’s context is a dystopian world — for me, it is a challenge to us to hopefully create a better structure for deploying future technologies — one that truly uplifts the human condition instead of just allowing us to escape our real challenging realities.

Though Wade Watts and his motley crew wins against the evil corporation IOI in the end, thereby, taking control of the Oasis and the company behind it— serious questions remain — can their young team truly manage this global online meta-verse and hopefully help humanity rebuild the physical world? Or will they become victims of their own success, amassing wealth at the expense of continuing a legacy of helping humans escape reality using VR technology?

Halliday’s Easter egg isn’t the only symbol of ultimate power in the novel either. Halliday also built an exit button into the code of the OASIS that would wipe the game completely at his will. The handing over of so much power to his successor is a potentially life altering action for everyone in the year 2044. The game is a commonly used escape from the crumbling world they all live in that allows anyone to do and be anything. Better education, entertainment with zero gravity, and quests for those who wish to be heroes balance on the button being ignored. The exit button is glimpsed, but it’s never said whether Wade has decided to use it or not.

But the fact that the button was built, means that Halliday himself was unsure of the value of the game. Does this reflect the uncertainty of technology? Or just how addictive the game could become? It did make him a virtual god (see what I did there?) in the game and in real life. Perhaps Halliday was provoked by the absolute power, and the desire not to abuse it, to create such a button.

We will have to read Ready Player Two to be sure what happens with Wade in charge. But in the meantime, this is a great read. Personally it is one of my favorites. The movie is also one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen from page to screen. I first read the book in 2014, so the dystopian theme was at it’s height. Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner. So when RPO was announced, and finally released as a movie in 2018, I was stoked. I loved this book. I’m pretty sure I only sat down to open the book three times before I finished it. I re-read it for this blog, and in preparation for Ready Player Two, and I still love this book. If you haven’t experienced the world created by Ernest Cline, you need to find it now. Or, whenever you have time.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline / 384 pages / YA / Science Fiction / Dystopian 

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