Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

By Jennifer Hancock | Central Library 

Although I had already read and enjoyed this popular young adult story years ago, and it has already been released as a popular movie, self-quarantine inspired my entire family to reread Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and it gave me a somewhat different perspective. Set in the year 2045, this futuristic tale spends a huge amount of time in a virtual world called the Oasis, where children go to school online, a large population works from home, and families can actually go months at a time as productive citizens without ever leaving the safety of their homes. I won't lie, with the pandemic and now the societal upheavals, the Oasis concept is extremely intriguing! And this book isn't afraid to tackle some of the "results" of the stay-at-home lifestyle, including the technology necessary to access the virtual world, the effects stagnation has on our bodies, and the importance of "essential workers" who can deliver groceries and food. Cline truly makes the Oasis feel like a feasible concept, if we can just get someone to build it.

If, like me, you were raised in the 1980s, this book will probably give you giggles and guffaws and the warm, rosy glow of remembering the "good old days." There are a million references to books, T.V. shows, movies, games, food, clothing, early gaming systems . . . so many that even my teenage children are starting to get nostalgic for the '80s! So yes, while this is a young adult novel, it spans the age gap brilliantly and brings a great deal of entertainment to older adults as well. The story line is complex and takes some pretty frightening turns on occasion; but it shows, as well, that even though you might be alone in your home, you are NOT alone in the world. There are others out there experiencing the same world you are, and struggling with some of the same battles. It promotes working together to protect the world we live in, to improve our society, and to overcome the greed often found in the corporate world. Definitely a fitting story for the times we are living in!

Now a disclaimer: Living in the South, the Christian point of view is everywhere. However, you will NOT find it in this book. The first chapter of this book deals a great deal with "the lies our parents tell us" and how we have to "learn the truth" on our own. Those lies and truths deal with everything from Santa to science to history to God. The main character, while taught by a good, somewhat religious mother in his childhood, has determined that many of mother's views were just lies designed to make him feel safer and more comfortable. It was difficult reading that first chapter, as the main character's views are often a great deal different from my own. But it is important to remember that this is a young adult book, and it is very common (almost expected) that our children, as they grow, will begin to question what we have trained them. They will struggle to explain to themselves why we, as adults, do and say the things we do. And they will rebel against some of our beliefs. So while it hurts this mother's heart to read the thoughts of the main character in the first chapter, I use that hurt to talk to my own children; to answer their questions and fears; to explain why I believe as I do; and to remind them that love can provide them the support they need, even when they are questioning everything. Don't let the controversy of the first chapter keep you from the pleasure of the rest of the book. I promise, it is worth it!