Book Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

There is an oft-repeated Presbyterian statement a child cannot strike at his father’s face unless he first sits in his lap.  By this it is meant that even when people are trying to dishonor God they cannot help but honor God by their works.  Even in rejecting God, people cannot help but imitate God and desire to be like God.  That reality in terms of worldviews has a lot to do with this book, and despite the perspective of the author himself, it actually makes this book much better than it would otherwise be.  Now, I love the 1980’s as much as many people [1] and you are going to need to love the 80’s to love this book.  The author is basically an atheist Oregon 80’s nerd, and two out of those three are good qualities.  Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book is the way that the author gives a powerful demonstration of intelligent design in the game that the main characters of this novel are obsessed with solving, in part for the thrill of the quest, and in large part for the money and what they want to do with it.

I don’t wish to spoil this book too much, as there are at least a few spoilers that could be found.  That said, this book basically has a dark view of a future of America that assumes a great deal of corporate fascism, the meaninglessness of politics, and the desire for escape from a terrible existence into a glamorous virtual world full of worlds that allows for education, work, and entertainment.  At the core of the story are a small set of players who become friends and allies as a result of their shared passion and skill at the game and their knowledge of the canon of the game’s founder, which allows them to solve puzzles and overcome the cheating efforts of the massive company that seeks to control the world of the internet and eliminate the competition they face from the group of players, and they will stop at nothing, including murder, to get their way.  Facing such a corporate behemoth leads to a grudging degree of trust between them and to some insane plans on how to stop them, and even a deux ex machina that allows for a satisfying ending to this novel of almost 400 pages but one that is definitely a page turner.

For me, though, as a reader, everything gets back to the way that the author, almost in spite of himself, demonstrates the reality of God by constructing this story in such a way that one is constantly reminded of it.  Moving through the game requires acting on knowledge that one gets from the designer of the game.  Characters show an obvious concern for a morality of sorts and a strong interest in justice–including criminal justice and some view of social justice.  Is the author really that clueless that he is giving off every bit of indication that he believers very much in God, and that his opposition to the God of Scripture is due to jealousy rather than unbelief, or is the book a deliberate parody of sorts?  It is unclear, as the focus has been on the grim if compelling worldbuilding engaged in, and not the irony (if not hypocrisy) as someone denying a Creator while attempting to mimic him generally successfully.  At any rate, this is a well-designed world and one which presents a great deal of intriguing if somewhat predictable political implications and presents a fascinating worldview perspective that shows a tension between the writer as a would-be philosopher and pundit and the writer as an artist who cannot help but to imitate God in spite of himself.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Ready Player One

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Armada | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Biomimicry | Edge Induced Cohesion

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