Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Ready Player One

Reading Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, is like watching someone play a computer game. No... it's like watching a geek play computer games, complete with pop-culture references and on-going quotes from genre movies. And for some reason, that made me try really hard to not like this book. It didn't work.

I liked it. Heck, I couldn't put it down!

In the near future, the OASIS virtual internet world is free to access for everyone. Your education, your employment, your entertainment, and your relationships all exist inside this virtual world. Outside of it, in the real world, society is crumbling and the American country-side is quickly devolving into a dystopian world.

James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, upon his death reveals to the world a contest within the virtual world, find three keys to unlock three gates and beat the challenges within the gates. The winner of the contest walks away with Halliday's entire fortune and a controlling interest in the company that runs OASIS. For years, millions of people seek the clues to try to win the contest

Enter Parzival, aka Wade Watts. A young man living the poor life in his aunt's trailer. By a stroke of luck, he finds the first key and passes the first stage of the contest, opening the floodgates for other players to try to replicate his task - including an evil empire of Sixers that will do anything to win the contest, even kill. Wade's goal is to win the prize, can he do it with the Sixers and their unlimited resources in contest with him?

Being a geek myself, it was easy to picture the game world of the book, and Wade's interactions within. The game-world references many video games, movies, television shows, books and such from the 1970s and 1980s, as Halliday used those to provide clues to win the contest. It's kind of like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets World of Warcraft meets Dragon*Con.

Ready Player One is not only a good action/adventure story, it's practically a love-letter to geeks. (And it's been optioned for a movie.)

Ready Player One was provided to me by the publisher for review.

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