A book I have been anxious to finish for a while now is Ready Player One, a sci fi adventure by Fanboys screenwriter and first time novelist Ernest Cline. I’ve been waiting for one of those luxurious weekends when there is nothing else to do but sit in my wing chair beside my bookshelf and read. And it just might be this weekend.
It’s 2044 and high school student Wade Watts is stuck in a bleak future. He copes by hanging out in the Oasis, a virtual reality world where he can go to school, game and essentially escape his life living in the “stacks”, the name given to trailer-park-like neighbourhoods on the edge of cities where the decrepit trailers are stacked to take up less real estate. When the eccentric creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, died five years before, he left behind a massive fortune but no heir. In a pre-taped message a virtual Halliday revealed that hidden throughout the Oasis are a series of puzzles. Solve all the puzzles and win the right to decide how Halliday’s fortune is spent. Treasurer seekers must use their knowledge of the 80′s gaming and pop culture that Halliday grew up with to solve the puzzles. After five years, nobody has found even the first key and although half the population of the world took up the search initially, most have now returned to their mundane lives. A few, known as “gunters” continue to search, becoming experts on Halliday and 80′s pop culture in the process. With no parents, no money, hardly any food but at least the standard issue gear required to enter the Oasis, Wade has spent his time becoming an expert on all things Halliday including mastering the games also available in the Oasis that Halliday so loved during his youth. Against all odds Wade finds the first key. When his name, thankfully an alias, is announced to the public the stakes to find the rest of the clues go up. He is now competing against players working for massive corporations dedicated to securing Halliday’s fortune who will stop at nothing to find it. It will take all of Wade’s knowledge and gaming skill to virtually and possibly even literally survive. So far the book hasn’t become too cheesy, too ambitious or too unbelievable. And readers I trust assure me Ready Player One is a good read all the way through.
You will like this book if you grew up in the 80′s or your parents did. You will like this book if you like playing video games. You will like this book if you are a fan of the “holy trilogy” movies as Wade calls them… Star Wars, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones (the fourth movie according to Wade doesn’t count but I liked it). Lord of the Rings, and the Matrix. You will like this book if you secretly (or even un-secretly) listen to old 80′s rock and pop songs. You will like this book if you sometimes worry about our future here on earth.
I first became aware of Ready Player One through various twitter posts of writers and self proclaimed geeks I admire including Wil Wheaton, of Star Trek TNG, Stand By Me and The Big Bang Theory fame. Wil went on to narrate the audio version of the book.
I bought that version for my son and purchased two library copies which have been making the rounds among gaming and tech types at my school. I have been reading Ready Player One on my new eReader and in book form, keeping my feet, like the main characters in the book, in both the past and the future.
I’m at the point now where I want to delve into the story and immerse myself in the amazing Oasis that Cline has created and like Wade Watts not come out until I”m done…
See you on the other side?
Update: sorry for not blogging for so long. But yes, I did finish this book and it was amazing. You should read it.