Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the dystopian future of 2044, the world is going down the crapper and many people spend most of their free time playing OASIS, an online virtual reality game, sifting through every minute detail of the creator's life, for whomever unravels a series of riddles James Halliday left behind inherits it all. Will teenager Wade Watts be the one?
As I've said in the past, every once in a while a reader will unearth a book that feels as if it was written especially for them. For me, Ready Player One is one of those books.
I wasn't completely sold at first. OASIS reminded me of The Metaverse from Snow Crash and Wade wasn't all that interesting to me. Then he referenced The Last Starfighter and I suddenly became more interested. By the time the Tomb of Horrors was mentioned, I was completely hooked.
The plot's structure isn't that revolutionary. It's pretty much your standard hero's journey. As the story unfolded, the characters are what made the book unputdownable.
I hate to admit it but I was feeling some kinship with Wade as the book progressed. Is spending most of your free time in OASIS really that much different than reading for hours on end? Also, the book explores the nature of people and their online avatars. The revelation of Aech's true identity illustrates the difference between perception and reality quite nicely, just like the time when I met Kemper and discovered he wasn't a gun-toting chimp in a suit. Apparently, he left his guns at home that day. Or the time when I met Stephen and discovered he WAS a book-reviewing robot.
A large part of the appeal of Ready Player One is the astounding amount of pop culture references. While most of them are from the 1980's, a few are not. The Matrix and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, for example. I suspect younger readers won't get as many of the reference and not enjoy the books as much. However, as a child of the 80's and a dyed in the wool geek, I enjoyed the book very very much.
As I said earlier, the plot isn't revolutionary but it's still an enjoyable read. A single man-tear threatened to escape my eye during the epilogue but I fought it back. Five easy stars.
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