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I heard about this book a couple of weeks ago through a friend on Facebook. She said, "Found a book that combines (in a major way) video games, 80's culture, puzzles, and an atheist protagonist. I haven't been this excited to read in while" and immediately my interest was piqued. I'm quite the gamer myself, and a good book influenced by the above is pretty hard to find.
I looked about for a while, and finally decided to take the plunge and buy it. I began reading it while sitting in a hospital waiting room, and when my consultant finally called me in, I almost wanted to tell her to hold on a bit, because I didn't want to put it down.
The book is clearly written by someone who greatly loves geek culture, the attention to detail is loving and nostalgic.
Ready Player One is set in a world only thirty years from now. The population has boomed, the world is over-crowded and mostly unemployed, fuel resources are pretty much gone. Life is pretty dire for most. The only source of solace for many, is the OASIS. An immersive online universe, where you can be whoever you want. Virtual jobs with real money are available, virtual schooling, anything is possible in OASIS.
When the OASIS creator dies, he leaves a massive fortune plus control of the OASIS to whomever can find his hidden 'easter egg'. James Halliday was an 80's fanatic, and games programmer. Having no family to leave his vast fortune to, he creates secrets within his tens of thousands of virtual worlds, and invites the world to find them upon his death.
This launches a massive easter egg hunt. The world has their eyes set on the money. Apart from one corporation, who have their eyes set on control of OASIS, who want to change it and charge only the richest for access.
When Halliday dies, it's a race to find the three Keys, and find the grand prize.
Enter Wade Watts. A 17 year old school student, who is a self proclaimed 'gunter' (egg hunter). He devotes his life to finding Halliday's easter egg, but the closer he and the world gets, the more danger they are all in.
Earnest Cline has thrown such a vast array of different things into a large melting pot and came out with something fantastic.
I has 80's trivia, geek culture, gaming references, conspiracy theories, quests, romance, films, books. Everything you could draw reference from is in there, and it's all original!
I didn't put this book down for about three days. Sometimes it's a little bit predictable, and other times, your mind will be blown clear out of the water.
It's one of very few books that had my heart racing at times, it is suspenseful and exciting, as well as being puzzling. You feel Wade's frustrations and fears, as well as his elations and joys.
A really magnificent read, and if you can, check out Earnest Cline's easter egg hunt of his own!!! The prize is a DELOREAN!
A short while ago, I stumbled across a highly enjoyable film called ''Fanboys'', about a bunch of ''Star Wars'' fans trying to break into George Lucas' mansion to get a sneak preview of the new film. I didn't pay much attention to the name of the writer, until I came across Ernest Cline's author bio in ''Ready Player One'' and realised it was written by the same person. This immediately gave me high hopes.
James Halliday, the creator of ''Oasis'', the ultimate in virtual reality multi-player online games, has dies. Leaving no heirs, he hides the rights to his fortune within his creation, which can only be found by solving clues set within his farewell video and within the Oasis itself and then beating whatever challenges these lead to. Everyone wants Halliday's fortune, which includes ownership of the Oasis, from individuals like Wade Watts to corporations who will want to charge for it and turn the Oasis to their own ends.
The aspect of the story that most caught my eye is that Halliday's era of growing up was the 1980s, so there are lots of references to the culture of that time; music, films and computer games. Given that my growing up occurred in the 1980s, this helped me feel completely at home with the novel. Although I never have been much of a computer game fan, I'm a music and film fan and there was so much that seemed familiar here that it was a very welcoming and comforting experience. Not since Stan Cattermole's "Bete de Jour" have I found a book that so closely mirrored my own life experience.
Perhaps the one thing that seemed slightly off putting was the writing style. Many of the main characters appeared to be teenagers and the relentless style and much of the use of language seemed to suggest a book aimed for a tween or young adult audience. However, the 1980s setting could only be aimed at an audience in their 30s who would have lived through the decade. This provided a minor distraction as I tried to work out the target audience for the book.
Fortunately, however, the story is interesting enough that this is only a minor concern. Unlike in many such stories, the various sub-plots fit in naturally within the story and don't feel added on. The challenges and clues are not the kind that the reader could guess and wonder why the characters don't see the solutions, which annoys me in Dan Brown's writing, which also helps to keep the reader interested, as there's no point at which you feel you've gotten ahead of the characters.
Ultimately, I think ''Ready Player One'' is a book that could cross boundaries. It's got the action quotient and the subject matter that would appeal to the tween audience, but the 1980s retro feel that would appeal to 30 somethings looking to relive their youth. It may appeal slightly more to the former, but as a member of the latter group, I thoroughly recommend it, although with a best price of £8.39 from Amazon or £7.19 for the Kindle version, perhaps only as one to borrow.
This is a slightly amended version of a review previously posted under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
I picked a copy of this up to make up numbers on a three for two deal at Waterstones. It usually retails for £11.99 or currently £6.83 on Amazon.
It is a sci-fi novel set about 50 years from now in which society has become impoverished due to vastly reduced oil reserves. Very few people can afford to travel and live in very close proximity in what are left of large cities. The majority of citizens spend a lot of time hooked into 'OASIS' which is a cross between the internet and a huge role playing game where anyone can do pretty much anything they like across a multitude of virtual worlds.
When the designer of the game dies he leaves a challenge that whoever solves will gain control of the game and all the wealth that results.
This is where our protaganist Wade comes in, a geeky teenager with no family or money but a wealth of knowledge about the 1980s which the game designer has based his challenge on. However there are plenty of other parties who will stop at nothing to gain control of the OASIS.
The book is well written and flows well, I read it in about a week which is good going for me these days due to annoying things like work and grooming! It will appeal particularly to anyone who grew up in the eighties especially those who had any interest in computer games of the time. It avoids overly complicated scientific language which in my opinion can detract from these kind of books.
The novel has been optioned for a movie remake which would be interesting. It seems the author has not written any other full length novels but I will be keeping an eye out for any future releases. Highly recommended.