Ready Player One
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
Get ready to get your geek on. Well, technically I should say, get ready to get your 80′s geek on. I will preface my review with you must be nerd to read this book, or at least willing to embrace your inner nerd. Additionally, a love or deep appreciation for the 80′s is required. If you are not nerd, you will likely loose interest as the entire book is drenched in all things gaming, tech, and 1980′s pop culture. That said, this book is an epic ride through a virtual world with a not so average hero as your guide.
Wade Watts lives in a trailer park with his aunt, who sees Wade as more of a food stamp source than an actual family member. His unfortunate life situation drives him to spend most of his time inside the OASIS, a virtual world, that’s best described as a combination of a virtual reality video game and the internet. Inside the OASIS, a user can play video games, hang out in a virtual chat room, and even attend school. One of the many things driving people to spend time in the virtual world is the OASIS wide ‘Easter egg’ hunt set up by James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS. Halliday set up the ultimate video game that calls back to all of his favorite 80′s video game, movies, and music, and the winner will receive his entire fortune.
Wade, also known as Wade3 and Parzival in the OASIS, is one of a millions of people hunting the for Copper Key to unlock the first of three gates in Halliday’s game. That is, he was one of the millions until he found the Copper Key.
Ready Player One has been categorized in the Young Adult genre, however, I kind of feel like this book would go over the heads of most young adults these days. I mean no offense to them in the slightest. I’m in my late twenties and I didn’t get many of the things referenced in this book, so I would imagine a teenager might miss a context. That is, unless they have an unhealthy obsession with the 80′s. I feel more adults would enjoy this book than teenagers. In fact, I think it’s already extremely popular among the 30-40 somethings. That said, the author does a pretty thorough job of explaining the many 80′s facts dropped in this story, so it’s not too difficult to keep up.
Referencing everything from Billy Idol to Rush, anime to School House Rock, Atari to the Apple 1, and 16 Candles to Monty Python’s The Holy Grail, Cline crams it all in. There were so many 80′s facts that I began to I feel like I was prepping to be on an 80′s edition of Jeopardy. I know more about the 80′s than I ever cared to know. And I have to admit it feels kinda good. To give you a little taste, Ernie Cline posted his personal soundtrack/mix-tape for Ready Player One on his blog.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One. I can truly say that I haven’t read or heard of anything like it before. It’s original, clever, witty, and engaging. It’s a trip through 80′s nostalgia and it’s tons of fun. I highly recommend this book to nerds, 80′s fans, and anyone looking for something completely different.