Author: Ernest Cline
Publication Date: 8/16/11
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
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.
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
This book is nostalgia porn. If you grew up in the 80s, enjoy video games, or go crazy for popular culture, you will devour this one. I was supposed to be reading this with a friend but I couldn’t stop. I read the beginning and thought, “what’s the big deal with everyone’s obsession?” Then Ernest Cline got his meat hooks into me and I read it while I was making dinner, while I was eating dinner, and then afterward until I’d finished it. I think I am just a few years shy of this books prime audience but I can see how it will appeal to most of my fellow geeks friends. Ready Player One is set in a future where we have depleted our resources to the point where many people lives in Stacks, which are basically just trailer homes piled 20+ high and many people struggle to make ends meet. Wade Watts, the protagonist, attends school in OASIS like many of his peers. OASIS, an online world created by James Halliday contains thousands of different worlds, including copies of many famous sci-fi verses—I’m sure you could spend most of your time in Sunnydale or on Dune if you wanted to. In a very Westing Game move, Halliday leaves his entire $250 billion fortune to the player who can find the Easter egg hidden in OASIS. The book is set five years after his death and no player has gotten even one step closer to figuring out Halliday’s mystery. And the kicker? Halliday’s obsession, besides video games, was the 1980s. All the kids and adults alike are well-versed in all things 1980s from fashion to music to games to computers. These characters know more about the 1980s than most people who lived through it.
Wade Watts has spent years playing through all of Halliday’s favorite games and songs trying to figure out the first step. When Wade figures out the first move, his name shoots to the top of a previously empty high-scorers list and the world goes into a frenzy. The entire rest of the book follows Wade and his fellow contestants through the game in their attempts to reach the goal first. It seems like every person in the world is up against each other—especially the “gunters” (egg hunters) and the “sixers.” (Corporately-sponsored hunters who want to take over the OASIS for monetary gain, so-called because their avatar names begin with the number 6) My adrenaline ran high for the whole book. In fact, I actually kept speaking to Wade aloud. “Wade, what the hell are you doing? You are past the first gate! Pull your head out of your ass and stop spending your time at dance parties!” “Art3mis is so much smarter than you, Wade!” Wade’s fellow gunters include his long-time online crush, Art3mis and his BFF Aech (pronounced like the letter H). They were seriously awesome side characters with distinct personalities, which I especially enjoyed considering I have several friends on Goodreads whom I’ve never met in real life but I feel like I know pretty well. (you guys better not be lying to me!) My experience with WoW and Second Life is pretty minimal…well, I did once try Second Life but it mostly consisted of my friends and I goofing around and then accidentally wandering into an orgy and getting yelled at. Anyway, my point is that people quest all the time and talk to the same people regularly online. They have distinct personalities. I’m so happy that Ernest Cline was able to capture the personalities so well when the characters were only together outside of OASIS for limited amounts of time.
As someone who has spent probably entire weeks of her life playing video games, this book feels a bit like validation. SEE, NERD! YOUR TIME SPENT COLLECTING RUPEES WASN’T FOR NOTHING!
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this highly addictive and fun read!