Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, is the story of Wade Watts, a nerd of the first order, who lives among the stacks of double wide trailers. It is the year 2044 and the OASIS (think a virtual, 3D immersion program of Facebook) is the only place to escape the dystopian world in which Wade lives. Then James Halliday, the very very rich man who created OASIS, dies. He has hidden an easter egg inside the OASIS which, if found, grants the finder his entire fortune. He leaves a riddle as the starting point in a video montage of 80s films. Wade spends years delving into all of the interests and nerdisms of Halliday hoping that the knowledge he gains from this overload of trivia will lend him an insight into Halliday’s mind and possibly to the easter egg.
Here is the official blurb about the book:
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
Cline writes with a sense of glee and appreciation for all things 80s and geek. He masterfully melds contemporary fears about virtual reality with a past rich in nerd history, adding twists and turns at appropriate levels as the story progresses. Wade’s coming of age story is one for the new millennium. His love for all things Holliday, arcade games, computer games, old scifi movies, and so on and so on into infinity and beyond brings a sense of awe and wonder to a world full of people who would rather escape into a virtual reality than deal with three families living together in a double wide trailer stacked 22 trailers high, food shortages, and fuel shortages. Wade’s future is bleak, except for his eternal optimism that he can be someone better and bigger in the OASIS, that he can level up in a non-existent world in a way he can’t in the real world.
I was reading a posting on Eleventh Stack, a cool blog by librarians, and one of the post recommended Ready Player One. I’m so happy I found this posting and this book. My attention was capture when I read:
[I]f you are keen on 80s pop culture, gaming, computers, or the band Rush, I highly recommend it for reasons I can’t explain without spoiling the plot. It’s also got short, action-packed chapters, quirky-lovable characters, and a story arc that cries out to filmed.
Like the author of this post I totally fell in love with Ready Player One. While I don’t always have a love for all things 80s, this book was easy and entertaining to read. Easily one of the best nerdcentric books I’ve read this year. I loved that everyone in the book is basically a complete and utter nerd. All of them are ensconced in their virtual reality. Yet, each of these characters is rich and full. Each of them develop into more complex beings as the pages turn, and none of them fully comply with nerd stereotypes. Cline has done something extraordinary. He has written a book for nerds about nerds, but these nerds have more going for them than that they know how to beat a video game. Though the plot centers around their nerdiness it is not the totality of their being, they have feelings, beliefs, and struggles that exist in all of us. I am entranced. I agree this needs to be made into a film, ASAP. I really want the OASIS to exit, not exactly like it does in the book (though Wil Wheaton as co-president of the virtual world is a must). I want a non-dystopian version to exist. IT WOULD BE AWESOME!!!!! I honestly do not want to give this book back to the library. But, alas I must. So, I recommend everyone check it out from their local library and immerse themselves in this awesome story, universe, and mind provoking read.