Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Teen review: Dystopian science fiction

Reviewed by Mher Arutyunyan, grade 9

Ready Player One, written by Ernest Cline, is a stand-alone science fiction novel taking place in the near future (2044) where citizens rarely go outside and instead opt for a virtual reality called OASIS. Overpopulation has made the world an ugly place, so most people plug into OASIS and live their lives there. The users of OASIS are sent into a frenzy after the death of its creator, the mysterious James Halliday. Halliday is a man obsessed with the 1980s, and has created a challenge for the users of OASIS: Find his "Easter egg" in the game and you will inherit his fortune. The people involved in the ensuing race are called "gunters." One of these "gunters" is Wade Watts, a teenager who spends most of his time in OASIS. He and his friends are trying to beat the other gunters to the egg and hopefully inherit Halliday's fortune.

Ready Player One has garnered much attention since its 2011 release date. Much of this attention and praise has come from gamers and fans of the '80s. A film adaptation is also currently in development with Jurassic Park and Jaws director Steven Spielberg attached. The novel is filled with references to '80s culture, including John Hughes films, video games, and other icons of the time period.

The character of Wade is a bit underdeveloped, and therein lies the problem with Ready Player One. Its characters and plot don't feel deep. Sometimes I even felt carelessness about the fate of Wade's friends. I wish that more time had been spent developing the characters and the story. That said, the book is a joy to read. The 372 pages flew by. Some parts of the book may seem underdeveloped, but it's fun to read. The '80s references never seem forced, and they perfectly complement the story and OASIS. OASIS also feels like something that could exist, thanks to Cline's understanding of video games. Many teens have flocked to the book, especially after the announcement of the upcoming film. I would highly recommend Ready Player One, especially to high schoolers who are fans of video games and the time period of the '80s. Its characters may seem underdeveloped and the plot isn't too deep, but it's an entertaining and amusing book to read, and you'll be hooked as soon as Wade jacks into OASIS. It earns a 4/5 from me.

Editor's note: This book was also popular with our high school book club, which read it in 2013. Here is my own review of the book, which appeared on the library's main blog. The library offers this as a book, an audio book, and an e-book. (And I imagine we will have the movie, too, if it ever comes out!)

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