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Nerdist Book Club READY PLAYER ONE, Part 4

It’s an exciting week, Ready Player One fans! Not only did we just read compelling chapters for the latest Nerdist Book Club discussion, we also got news on the Ready Player One film adaptation. Steven Spielberg is set to direct Warner Bros. take on Ernest Cline’s book. How awesome is that? Some of Spielberg’s films are among the many references in the book. Ahhh! Speaking of the book, let’s get to the discussion.

What happened
Chapters 0025-0031 turned the intensity up to 11. This is the point of the book when the pages can’t fly by quickly enough because I need it all in my brain immediately. At the same time, I want to savor every twist and turn—so basically, I spent a lot of time arguing with myself.

Huge and huger things happened. We learned Daito was killed not only in the OASIS but in the real world, and Sixers were responsible. It’s not entirely shocking. They tried to kill Wade, we know what they’re capable of. Yet knowing they found Daito and recorded his murder brings a whole other level of creepy into the picture, know what I mean?

After being hit with this news, Wade unlocks the secret of the Jade Key with some Blade Runner knowledge and locates the Second Gate. Like the previous location on Frobozz, there are hundreds (probably thousands) of spots to access the point necessary to getting to the next step. That makes it impossible for IOI’s Sixers to keep other gunters out. It makes you wonder whether Halliday determined the placement of the Second Gate (and the Jade Key) with that in mind. But I digress. Wade plays inside a version of Black Tiger to defeat the Second Gate and get a robot and the clue for the Crystal Key.


Daito and Shoto by Jonathan B. Perez

And then, you guessed it (or read it), Wade locates the Crystal Key. The big helper for this clue was the music of Rush. I have mixed feelings about this section of the book. Getting through all these steps happens in such rapid succession that there’s no time to celebrate. However, that’s sort of the point. Sorrento is ahead of all of them, and there’s an urgency that wasn’t there before pressing down on Wade’s shoulders. I can’t imagine the amount of anxiety he must be feeling.

And that anxiety gets worse. When Wade realizes the Crystal Key leads to Castle Anorak and learns Sixers have surrounded the castle with impenetrable magic, he takes drastic actions. Emphasis on the word drastic.

The story shifts to the real world, and things escalate quickly. I love the way Cline jolts us into Wade’s new plan. The IOI shows up at Wade’s apartment building to arrest him, and we know he’s expecting them but we don’t know why. Tension! IOI is awful, they’re going to kill him! So much stress. And then we learn Wade had created a stack of debt for his alter ego and the corporate police were there to take him away for mandatory indenturement. Yes, IOI continues to be the worst.

But it’s cool, it’s all part of Wade’s plan. It’s amazing to see how this kid has transformed from the one we met in the Stacks. He’s putting his life on the line by walking into the belly of the beast. And it’s one gnarly beast. Indenturement is basically like prison. Wade works in customer service but manages to escape around the clock observation with some creative hacking and a lot of preparation.

It’s both fascinating and horrifying to get a look at IOI’s inner workings, but that aspect was overshadowed by how much I was concerned for Wade’s life for pages and pages. He doesn’t screw around though. He learns IOI is planning to kill Shoto and Art3mis and gathers data like a mad man. We leave off with him not only escaping IOI but blowing the whistle on their deadly activities. Did I mention all the stress?

Pop culture references
I’m focusing on two key references from this week’s assignment because as usual, there were a ton. Before Daito was killed, he used the Beta Capsule to transform into Ultraman. The character is from a Japanese series of the same name from the mid ’60s. Ultraman in action:

Can’t you picture him plucking ships out of the sky and crushing them?

Blade Runner also played an important role. It was instrumental in solving the riddle of the Jade Key and locating the Second Gate. Good thing Wade’s watched it over four dozen times (that took over 93 hours, by the way). Wade was using a similar process as Harrison Ford’s Decker to examine a photo when the connection him. He remembered the silver origami unicorn from the film and then realized he needed to visit the Tyrell Building and take the Voight-Kampff test.


Feel like making your own origami unicorn? There are instructions on the Blade Runner Unicorn website. If you make one, please tweet a photo to myself and @NerdistDotCom.

I’m still pinning all the references in Ready Player One, but I’m going slowly so I don’t flood the pages of those who follow me. I’ll probably be adding to the board long after book club is over, but I plan to get through the whole book.

Favorite quotes
“We’re gunters. We live here, in the OASIS. For us, this is the only reality that has any meaning.”

“For one quarter, Black Tiger lets me escape from my rotten existence for three glorious hours. Pretty good deal.”

“I was going to reach the Third Gate, or die trying.”

Discussion questions
– We knew IOI was awful, but how does knowing how they treat people who owe them money change your opinion about them? Given that they seem to have several indentured servants, do you think IOI’s methods are effected?
– IOI exercises complete control over their indentured servants, but do you think they also spy on their voluntary employees? Do you see any parallels to corporate America?
– As a reader, was it hard for you to experience so much of the real world after being in the OASIS for so long?
– Not so much a discussion question, but I’m curious: Do you think your pop culture knowledge would have allowed you to figure out the clue to the Second Gate or any of the other keys or gates?

Bonus material
Please enjoy Ernest Cline and Wil Wheaton reading from Ready Player One at Elliott Bay Book Co. in October 2011.

I realize I’ve said this in every discussion, but the energy and pacing of Ready Player One makes it hard to quit. I make myself do it because I don’t want to get mixed up and accidentally spoil what’s ahead, but the struggle is real. It doesn’t help that I unintentionally chose dramatic cliffhangers for each section. This corner of the book got incredibly bleak as we learned of Daito’s murder and the way IOI basically uses slave labor. No wonder people are content to ignore the world and seek refuge in the OASIS.

Escapism continues to be an important theme, but we also see a glimmer of hope. Granted, Wade is ambitious and intelligent, but if he can fight back against IOI so successfully, others can too. It’s a few people against an entire evil corporation, and in that way, it reminds me of Star Wars. Of course, if we’re being honest, a lot of things remind me of Star Wars.

What do you think of the latest chapters? What themes do you see and how many times did your heart race on Wade’s behalf? Share all the thoughts in the comments! You can also answer the discussion questions if you’d like, ask your own questions, and/or share favorite quotes. If you want to take the discussion to Twitter, please use the #NerdistBookClub hashtag.

Return to Nerdist next week for the final discussion on Thursday, April 2. We’ll be going over Levels 0032-0039. We’re almost there, gunters!

Featured Image Powered by DeviantArt // Artist: Dapsi

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  1. I seriously think I could have made a good go of completing the WarGames challenge (it’s my all time favourite film and I know it off by heart) but I seriously think I would have struggled at all the other challenges. But if I had all the time that Wade had to study everything then I would certainly have given it a go!
    I kind of liked the whole indenturing process. It kind of made sense in a way that a dictatorial organisation like IOI would make a form of productive ‘prison’. My only gripe is how ‘easily’ he escaped. They could have made more of the woman who spots his ear bleeding as he walked out. Just a little more ‘will he won’t he’ would have been great and I think that heist part would work really well in the upcoming movie.
    In fact, not to go off on a tangent about the movie but I really look forward to seeing how they do the flip between real world and the OASIS. I can imagine a gritty, muted colour feel for the real life, with Wade having bad skin etc, and then in the OASIS it’s all bright, colourful and the avatars are all healthy looking. I wonder how they will represent lower quality OASIS kit though. They could make scenes go slightly pixelated etc. But personally I really enjoyed the real life sections of the book. If anything it kind of highlighted just how amazing the OASIS parts are and how much of a sanctuary it is. But inversely it also made me appreciate how risky it is to be immersed in the fake world while you are in such a dangerous real world. It’s like in Inception, when they are in another level of reality their body is just sitting there and could be attacked unknowingly by other people. 

  2. Alex says:

    ā€“ IOI exercises complete control over their indentured servants, but do you think they also spy on their voluntary employees? Do you see any parallels to corporate America?

    The book makes it seem like not only do they spy on the indentured servants, they also spy on users who use their service to access the OASIS.  So I’m thinking that they spy on the employees as well.  And there are definitely parallels to this in corporate America.

    ā€“ As a reader, was it hard for you to experience so much of the real world after being in the OASIS for so long?

    It wasn’t hard for me, in fact, I was glad.  I was wondering if the rest of the story would take place with him accessing the OASIS from his apartment.  I’m also thinking that the OASIS has become like a drug many, including Wade, are addicted to.  The author mentions parks that have been turned into tent cities, basically, and even these people are lining up to access the OASIS.  The image of homeless people engaging in something that is essentially a luxury struck me as odd.  It’s also another example of escapism.  

    ā€“ Not so much a discussion question, but Iā€™m curious: Do you think your pop culture knowledge would have allowed you to figure out the clue to the Second Gate or any of the other keys or gates?
    My pop culture knowledge of the 80s definitely wouldn’t have helped me clear any of the gates.  And what bothers me is that the challenges have been too easy for Wade.  Conveniently, he’s played and mastered the games needed to succeed.  Conveniently, he binge watched War Games and was able to easily get through the associated challenge.  Hell, it was even disappointing that he managed to get in and out of IOI so easily and pull off everything he did while there.  We finally get to see him spend some quality time in the real world and it was just plain dull.

  3. Derek says:

    I feel like I have a fairly solid background in 80s pop culture, but nowhere near the level of Wade. I would have given Joust a shot because I have played it a lot, but the movie stuff I wouldn’t be able to pull off. While I like Rush, they aren’t one of my favorite bands, so all the insight into 2112 was interesting. And a big shout out to Loot Crate for including the book in the February box so I didn’t have to borrow it from my brother!

  4. Kiley says:

    Of course IOI spies on their voluntary employees. They gotta keep those secrets safe! In this world, I feel like the only time you are anonymous is online. Every other aspect is constantly monitored by traffic cams, cctvs, security cams, etc. 
    Personally I loved being in the real world. I felt like I was so absorbed in OASIS land that it gave me a chance to recalibrate my mind. Sometimes you just need to snap back to reality to reset, no matter how crappy reality is. If anything, you get perspective of what’s happening in the world. 
    I for one know that there is NO WAY I would be able to pull off something like the hunt for the keys. I fail buzzfeed quizzes even when I’ve seen theories or shows numerous times. 

  5. Rayanna says:

    I finished these chapters on Monday, but I couldn’t wait for the discussion to go up. I had to keep reading. As to not mix what I know now and what I should know I will stay away from the discussion. But it has been a long time since I had a book that I both wanted to finish and didn’t want the book to end at the same time!