TITLE: Ready Player One
AUTHOR: Ernest Cline
GENRE: Fiction, Sci Fi/Fantasy
PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon
MOBILISM LINK: N/A
Description: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
Review: Picture a world just like ours, but subtly worse – more debt, less fuel, more corporate ownership. Then imagine the ability to escape to a virtual world that has everything you could possibly want. It’s complete with sectors that are inspired by just about any pop culture phenomenon you can think of – Whedon, Star Trek, Star Wars, Warcraft, Everquest. You can shop, you can battle, you can quest and best of all, you can do it from home. This is the Oasis – where 90% of Ready Player One takes place.
The creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, is a quiet, nerdy guy who has no one to inherit his amazing creation when he dies. He’s made billions since launching the Oasis, despite each account only costing a quarter for a lifetime subscription. As a nod to his childhood love of arcade games, each avatar sees “Ready Player One” as they’re logging in.
Halliday’s obsessed with the 80’s and after his death has left the most amazing and intense contest within the system – find three easter eggs and you inherit his billions and ownership of the Oasis system. It’s not as easy as it seems!
RP1 opens 5 years after his death, with Parzival (otherwise known as Wade Watts), his friend Aech (a player versus player god) and a female blogger named Art3mis. They’re all “gunters” – the shorthand for “Egg Hunters”. They’re far from the only ones, there’s thousands of solo hunters and clans who are all combing the information Halliday left behind.
Parzival is an unlikely hero – poor, overweight, and with a wimpy avatar because he can't afford to leave his educational planet where he attends school. He tries to keep his head above water but only the egg hunt gives his life meaning...
I'd always had a roof over my head and more than enough food to eat. And I had the Oasis. My life wasn't so bad. At least that’s what I kept telling myself in a vain attempt to stave off the epic loneliness I now felt.
Then the Hunt for Halliday’s Easter egg began. That was what saved me, I think. Suddenly I'd found something worth doing. A dream worth chasing. For the last five years, the Hunt had given me a foal and purpose. A quest to fulfill. A reason to get up in the morning. Something to look forward to.
It wouldn't be a near-future dystopian novel without the evil corporation that tries (and cheats while doing it) to find the Easter Egg so they can take control of the Oasis and turn it into an overpriced fantasy land for the few rich people who can afford it. The leader of the Oology department (colloquially known as the Sixers or Suxors) is a gleefully nasty villain and the entire wild ride through this virtual reality will have you alternately terrified for the heroes and booing the bad guys.
I read a lot. I also start a lot of books and don't finish them. The odds of me starting a book and refusing to put it down, reading under the covers while my husband sleeps, not even being tempted by other shiny collections of words? Not high. Ready Player One hit that home run for me. I've read it four times now and each time it sucks me right back into the world, gasping and absorbed, even ignoring people who are talking to me. I may have marched up to people in a bookstore who were looking at it and insisted that they buy it because it is that good.
The little touches are the thing that makes RP1 stand head and shoulders above the crowd. One of my favourites...
I did take the time to vote in the OASIS elections, however, because their outcomes actually affected me. The voting process only took me a few minutes because I was already familiar with all the major issues GSS had put on the ballot. It was also time to elect the president and VP of the the OASIS User Council but that was a no-brainer. Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.
I don't know about anyone else, but I'd HAPPILY live in a world where Cory and Wil were our leaders!
Obviously, I'm highly recommending RP1 but I cannot stress this recommendation enough. Very few books are world-changing, but this book is. I LOVED this book, with its pop culture, its amazing characters, and computer innovations. You may be inspired to proselytize about how amazing the reading experience is, just like I was. Either way, it’s fast-paced, fun to read, and interesting. There is a little rough language and violence, but overall it’s pretty clean – my best friend’s 10 year old son did his first book report ever on it, he loved it so much. (Can I give a stronger recommendation than that?)