Six impossible things before breakfast.

A library science student's perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ready Player One

There are a ton of good books out there, and even a lot of great ones, but it's rare to find a book as infectiously fun to read as Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. I put this book on hold at the local library after reading about it on a blog somewhere, but I had completely forgotten about it when I received the notice yesterday that it was ready for me to pick up. From the first few pages I could tell that this book was going to be a fantastic adventure and nearly impossible to stop reading. I immediately devoured it in two marathon sessions (with a couple brief breaks to feed the cats and make a cup of tea or two).

I'll start this off by saying bluntly, if you are a fan of video games, classic scifi movies, or futuristic novels involving virtual reality worlds and haven't read Ready Player One, then go find a copy of the book right now. Cline's novel is fast-paced, ironic, entrancing, and peppered with references to old games, films, music, and technology. The book contains a lot of backstory, but where this might slow readers down in less-captivating works, here it only throws you more intensively into the world Cline has created (or in some ways, resurrected).

Wade Watts is the unlikely hero of Ready Player One, a less than average kid in every regard but his obsession with the OASIS, the virtual reality world that the Internet has evolved into by the year the book is set, 2044. He escapes his unhappy world, living with an uncaring aunt in a futuristic trailer park horror known as "the stacks," and embraces the digital realm where he can make himself whoever he wants to be. But the OASIS isn't just a virtual playground to Wade (aka Parzival--his OASIS avatar name). Wade spends every spare moment of his existence researching, studying, and scouring the network for the elusive Easter Egg left behind by the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday. Hidden beneath cryptic tests and seemingly indecipherable puzzles is Halliday's enormous fortune and the power to control the future of the OASIS. The contest first went public upon the death of the eccentric founder, but after millions around the globe have spent years searching for the treasure, no one is any closer to winning this most epic game of all time. Then Wade discovers the answer to the first riddle. Enthusiasm for the contest, which had faded in the uneventful years since Halliday's death, takes off again, Parzival is an instant celebrity in the digital world, and things really start to get interesting.

If Cline's endless facts about Atari games, John Hughes films, and 80s rock bands don't keep you entertained, his complex, often hilarious, and always addictive story will keep your eyes riveted to the text until the final page. Happy reading!

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