Ready Player One
By: Ernest Cline
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
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 actually read this book back in September as part of the IGGPPC monthly read; I had heard so much about it on GoodReads and from fellow bloggers and it just sounded like a fun, fantastic read. I chose to delay publishing my review because I wanted to feature it during November’s Sci-Fi Month, so here it is now!
Wow, so Ready Player One is quite a romp across geek culture galore! Everything from books to movies to television shows, music and games, etc, etc, etc! It was interesting how the 80s made quite the comeback in this near-future novel; I really enjoyed the references. Speaking of which, it was interesting to read what sort of near-future world that Wade lives in; I can totally see a lot of these things happening and the sort of advancements that technology could come to.
The story itself was really interesting, with gunters searching for Halliday’s clues to his fortune. The first third of the novel was a little slow, perhaps in part because the author had to establish the world Wade lived in and the ins and outs of how everything worked. It does however start picking up speed when Wade starts focusing all of his energy on searching for the second key and all of the dangers about searching for Halliday’s fortune presented themselves in the story. The Sixers and the amount of power they had was pretty freaky stuff, and the lengths they would go to get ahead was just as scary (and creepy as when they appear on the scoreboard, their numbered usernames reminded me of spambots or something).
I admit, some of the details sort of went over my head; the novel sort of reinforced how I’m not much of a gamer (Dungeon Siege, LOTR games, Kirby and Tetris was as far as I went; I knew of some of the other classic games but there were some obscure titles mentioned here). But it was really cool how he integrated gaming platforms, types of games, and systems into the story and the world that OASIS handles. It would actually make a pretty cool movie–if done right 😛
Overall, Ready Player One was a fun read. Wade’s relationships with the characters were something akin to what we experience with our online experiences–profound friendships with people we never met–and it was interesting how those relationships grew or were tested over the course of their quest to find Halliday’s fortune. I thought it was a pretty unique sci-fi novel overall, and such a lovely homage to 80s popular culture and the geek culture. Highly recommended!