What a rush this novel was. Like any novel it was not perfect nor was it the grandest written adventure ever but it was a lot of fun. I finished the novel and instantly contacted a few gamer friends on Facebook to tell them that they should read this novel. That's kind of an indicator of how much fun it was on the whole.
Of course I may not have agreed with several aspects of the character's narration. The talk about how he discovered that God was a myth and evolution the fact I disagreed with. Well of course it's different to my beliefs but also because the way it was written. It came across as if God's non-existence was fact and that when anyone died you simply cease to be was also fact. Things that I disagree with from a theoretical point of view, as well as other major points of view. I disapprove of anyone telling me what is or isn't fact. I prefer people to explain that 'evidence supports this view' and that way I can challenge ideas and theories for myself. After all what if we all discover in the future that the fact of gravity was a fiction and gravity itself was actually another force? What happens to our facts then. The other reason I disapproved of the idea was because it seemed overly nihilistic which is a whole system of thought I vehemently disagree with. However I became able to ignore these parts of the narrative as a way of the character expressing their disgust at what had happened to his world.
And such discourse aside 'Ready Player One' was a treasure-house of fun references. I was not born in the 80s but rather in early 1994 and so many of the video games referred to I know only as vague entities. Films I have and have not seen were also mentioned and I loved the incorporation of both Star Wars and Blade Runner into the narrative. I also appreciated the reference to various authors and musicians also from that era. All in all the way in which Ernest Cline pays tribute to those influences was brilliant.
And while 'Ready Player One' may have been on the whole simply a fun ride it also contained for me an interesting message. I find that this type of science fiction (dystopian) is an excellent format for providing both powerful prophetic messages, warnings and a thrill ride. The warning here being about consumerism and the allure of hyper-reality. As the people spend most of their time living and dying in OASIS so the lesson is for us not to lose sight of what the real world is. I may not have liked the fact that the protagonist tried to have virtual reality sex but I did appreciate his comment that it wasn't real. That is the warning in this novel. Not to be sucked into the alluring temptation of the media and of the stories spun by the world around us (as the people did in the Matrix) but rather to be focused on what matters and what is real. And I guess as the novel showed that what really matters are people and relationships - not the games we play in life although they can be fun.
On the whole this was a brilliant debut novel and one of my favourite recent science-fiction novels. I encourage anyone who likes the culture of the 80s, appreciates sci-fi or video games to give this a read and see if you are not hooked by the story. You likely won't agree with every moral lesson or ideology present but you don't have to with any novel. What is important is that you see that the story is a fine and powerful one.