Monday, September 12, 2011

"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

This year I've found myself increasingly drawn toward action-oriented stories and away from novels full of rumination and questions about identity and the meaning of life. I suppose, like everyone else, sometimes I just want something fun. However, that doesn't mean I'm willing to settle--the books I read still need to be smart, well-written, and driven by compelling characters or I won't care. Enter Ready Player One.

I loved Ready Player One. It spoke to the geek in me and was fun and fast paced. The premise: in the near future, much of the world's population spends its time in a massive online environment called OASIS (similar to Second Life). When the eccentric creator of OASIS, James Halliday, dies, he leaves behind what is essentially a treasure hunt: he has hidden an "egg" somewhere in OASIS, and whoever can find it first will receive his massive fortune and control of the company. Ready Player One focuses on Wade, aka Parzival, a (largely) friendless teenager who has devoted the last five years of his life looking for Halliday's egg.  When he discovers the first key toward completing the search, he's thrown into the spotlight and must race to find the egg ahead of IOI, an evil corporation determined to rule OASIS.

On its own, the story above would probably make a fun book. But there's an added detail that makes it even more fabulous: Halliday was obsessed with the '80s, and the only way to solve his hunt is to become an expert at every part of the decade Halliday loved: the movies, TV shows, music, video games, and technology. The book, then, is jam-packed with nerdy '80s references, all described lovingly and reverently. I was born in the '80s, so I'm no expert on many of the allusions, but that wasn't a problem. Ready Player One appeals to anyone who grew up with early technology and has seen and embraced the enormous advancements since then--but still feels a bit of nostalgia for scroll-screen Mario.

The character development is perhaps a little weak, and the problematic nature of most of the world spending all their time online is only slightly addressed. I was thankful for it. Ready Player One is perfect as is and ideal for a self-professed geek of any type.

No comments:

Post a Comment