Review: Ready Player One
June 5th 2012 | Broadway Books | 9780307887443
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?
I am a child of the Eighties. I graduated High School in 1986 and grew up on the pop culture of that era. Michael J. Fox, the Brat Pack, Duran Duran, and Atari is where I wiled away hours upon hours. And that is why I loved Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. If you are a child of the Eighties, a gamer, or a dystopian, sci-fi nerd like me then get this book. It is a super fun read.
The plot is simple. The world is a mess. There is a mega rich dude that dies with no heir. He created “The Oasis,” a virtual world where most everything happens now. He has placed an “Easter egg” in that world and whoever finds it gets his fortune and control of his company. USA Today called this book “Willy Wonka meets The Matrix” and that is pretty accurate. Wade Watts is the main character, an eighteen-year-old, high school senior by day and a “gunter” (person who devotes themselves to locating the egg) the rest of the time. He is poor, parentless, and lives with his aunt in the “stacks”, the area where they have literally stacked mobile homes on top of each other to make room for the increased population in the cities. Wade, Parzival as his Oasis character is called finds the first key to Halliday’s egg and that’s when the fun and adventure begin.
This book was a jaunt down memory lane for me. It contains so many late 70’s and 80’s references that it would fill up the whole review to mention them all. Suffice it to say that it was a lot of fun to have my trivia knowledge tested many times throughout the book. If any of the above strikes a chord with you, go get this book.