Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday reviews – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

If you are an 80’s fan, a videogame freak or an overall oldschool geek, read this very carefully, you should REALLY consider reading Ready Player One. This is probably the most fun book I’ve read in a while and I didn’t even partake in the proverbial Book Easter Egg hunt that is part of the promotion. So how good is this book? Well seeing as it’s Ernest Cline’s first book and there was a bidding war, you can imagine. 

I rarely start with superlatives like the ones in the previous paragraph, however I felt the need to convey the sense of fun I received from this book where I really needed to know what was going to happen next. Set in a dystopian future, it turns out the world isn’t as wonderful as it should be (really, what dystopian future is?). Overpopulation and poverty are out of control, people live on trailers upon trailers (called stacks) and life in general, well sucks. But there’s a shining ray of hope that comes from what is known as the Oasis… think of it this way, take Second Life and turn it into a social structure that connects the entire world, whose game credit currency is not only worth more than real world currency, but that you can use it in the real world and that is the escape of an entire world population.

Without releasing spoilers, the Oasis is a virtual universe like no other… and yes, you read correctly: Universe. There are millions of planets within the Oasis and with the right amount of credits, you can go anywhere in the universe, deck your avatar in lovely threads, buy mansions, build a headquarters to put the bat cave to shame and use weapons and magic of all sorts. It’s World of Warcraft taken to the extreme and if you think you know people addicted to the Internet, you need to read this book to see exactly how bad we’ll get. In our never ending search for an escape from our little planet, the Oasis is one of the most inventive, creative and programmable organic ideas ever put down on paper.

As a gamer, I read it and knew just how real this could be. As a reader I was kept in awe at the brisk pace, twists, turns and creativity. As a child of the 80’s I smiled from pure nostalgia on at least 80 occasions. As a geek, I was proud to read something that resonated on so many levels. As a writer I was inspired to see something that spoke so unapologetically in its own voice that I am further convinced to throw caution to the wind and just enjoy what I write.

Ernest Cline is a geek to top all other geeks and he’s proud to be one. He drives a Delorian, mentions more 80’s references than you could imagine and created something that is innovative yet a throwback. It’s got the edge of more recent films yet the feel of family adventures from the 80’s… think Goonies with stronger subject matter (sex and violence are seen throughout the story) and a Matrix like sense of technological awe. 

In a nutshell, the story has the creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, send an automated message on the day he dies. The message is dipped in enough 80’s nostalgia you’ll force yourself to look to the left and speak to an imaginary camera a-la Ferris Bueller. After the snippet the goal is clear, find 3 Easter Eggs hidden throughout the Oasis universe which spans millions of worlds, open a gate, beat all challenges and inherit about 200 billion dollars, i.e. Halliday’s net fortune and control of the Oasis… the thing is that for five years, no one has any luck in finding even one clue of how to get even the first clue, meaning that the scoreboard has been silent for half a decade… until one name pops on the top… Parzival. Ready Player one is his story and you should definitely check it out.



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