Book Review: "Ready Player One", by Ernest Cline

I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.

James Donovan Halliday

I think this was one of the few books where I watched the movie adaptation first. While Spielberg weaves an exciting narrative faithful to the book's arc, there's enough creative license taken where the book has a life of its own. Once you get sucked into it, you can't put it down.

To describe the plot in a few short words: the protagonist, Wade Watts, lives in quite the dump of a world, and his one chance of getting out is winning the race for an Easter Egg inside a worldwide video game, made by an extremely wealthy hermit, that many people thought didn't exist.

The book puts slightly different weights on the importance of particular characters. Spielberg emphasized the relationship between Perzival and Art3mis, but in the novel Art3mis is more of a tertiary protagonist, with much more weight placed on Aech, Og, and the protagonist himself. Corporations are also more murder-y, and the shroud the book places on IOI and its actions from Wade's perspective give it another layer of sinister appeal. Only part of one challenge survives from the book's translation to the movie, making Spielberg's rendition all the more amazing.

I didn't find too many deep quotes in the book as most of the detail focused on constructing the visual imagery, but the one above resounded with me. I've also noticed people have various escapes from real life, from fairly harmless things like video games to more harmful ones like various addictions to dangerous substances. Life sucks sometimes and sometimes we're too weak to confront it. But it's also the only place where things are true, where our problems and our solutions and our feelings stick. We can't change reality as much as we can't change the past.

Quite the jewel of a lesson.