Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was on my I-think-I’d-really-like-this list for over 6 months before a good friend gave me a copy for Christmas. Hurray! Then it sat on my bookshelf for another 6 months while I desperately read library books the week they were due. (There’s nothing like a looming due date to get me reading.) Last week, I finally sat myself down and started reading.
Wade Watts, like many of the people living in 2044, spends almost all his time online in a virtual reality simulation known as OASIS. He attends school online, hangs out with his best (and only) friend in a private chat room, and spends hours each day scouring the school’s comprehensive online library since he lacks the digital or real money necessary to travel between the worlds of OASIS.
Five years earlier, the inventor of OASIS died, leaving his fortune and ownership of OASIS to the first person to solve a series of puzzles that lead to an Easter egg hidden somewhere in OASIS. Because James Halliday was a huge fan of gaming, television, and sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, anyone serious about finding the Easter egg must be an expert on all things 1970s and 80s. As a result, an entire generation of teens and young adults grow up watching Family Ties, Star Trek, and Sixteen Candles. Wade is something of an arcade game expert especially, although his search for the egg is mostly theoretical until he gets enough money to travel around looking for clues.
Honestly, the first chapters of the book dragged for me. Ready Player One opens with Wade explaining that this book will be his account of what really happened in the search for the egg and there was too much backstory for my taste. I was telling a friend all of this and that I thought he’d like the book if it lives up to its premise when Josh admitted that he thought the book sounded really cool and might read it himself. Two things you should know about Josh: he loves puzzles and quests and he almost never reads by choice. On the way home from our friend’s house that night, Josh asked me to read him the next chapter while he drove. After that, we read at least 3 chapters a day, mostly at Josh’s insistence. I’m just a little too young to have seen/played some of the movies and games referenced in the quest, but we chuckled quite a bit at the descriptions of text-based games and things like leveling up since we’ve been playing a text-only game since junior high.
The book did pick up for me as I’d hoped. By the final third of the book, I was extremely tempted to stay awake all night and finish reading after Josh fell asleep. The only thing that kept me from doing just that is the hope that Josh will read another book with me in the next decade. We both ended up enjoying the story quite a bit and agree it should make a neat movie. If you’re a read-the-book-before-the-movie sort, you have until next April. Ready Player One the movie is set to release on March 30, 2018.
I’d recommend this to: Anyone who’s seen the movie Bladerunner or knows what a hit point is. You wouldn’t have to be a science fiction/fantasy/gaming fan to follow the story, but it certainly helped me get past the slow parts.