Cannonball Read IV: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One has been one of the most popular books this year for our reviewers. As I can attest, it is an outstanding debut novel that has wowed many. It was hard to select the best review, so here is the very first review posted on the group blog, back in January. Other reviewers who have posted reviews of this book to date are: CommanderStrikeher, Ideaofthegirl, Malin, Pyrajane, Rahael, Baxlala, claushetzer, and Alli.
Now, on to LurkeyTurkey's review. Enjoy! --mswas
What a fun, frenzied, super nerdy romper room of a book. I picked this one up in the Chicago airport after Patrick Rothfuss (author of The Kingkiller Chronicle), recommended it on his blog AND on the dust jacket. And he was dead-on- this book was frakking awesome.
Welcome to 2044. The world has gone to shyte, resources are scarce, violence is rampant, and most people escape this reality by jacking into OASIS, a Second Life kind of virtual reality containing thousands of worlds, including sci-verses (there's a Wheedonverse, y'all!) where you can be anything or anyone you want to be. Steve Jobs James Halliday, the creator and genius behind OASIS, has died, but not before leaving a Willy Wonka-ish easter egg and riddle, which will award the finder his entire $250 billion fortune and ownership of OASIS. Years have passed, yet no one can seem to crack the code of this puzzle, and thus the great search for the golden ticket has gone a bit cold.
Enter Wade Watt, an orphan obsessed with OASIS and the ability to escape his grim reality. As a true Halliday devotee, Wade has immersed himself in Halliday's favorite books, games, music, and comics- all based in the 1980-2005 time period- and the keys to unlocking the puzzle. He and his friends, none of whom he has met in person, get together to talk about the competition, quote random 80s movies, and sit around playing Asteroids whenever they aren't in virtual high school. They are OASIS prodigies, so deeply ingrained in the Halliday lore and culture that the competition is not just an abstract game to them; it is a way of life, a social and support network, and the means of their emotional connection to "the world." Wade stumbles upon the first portion of the solution, his name flies to the High Scorers board, and all hell breaks loose, both in OASIS and the real world. The game, as they say, is afoot!
Enter stage right, the "Sixers," a corporate army of OASIS players who are Machiavellian and driven by one principle: the ownership and commercialization of OASIS. These be the bad guys, and make no mistake, they are evil. Their corporate coffers allow them nearly endless resources and information at their fingertips, and they are gunning for Wade and his friends. It soon becomes a frantic race to the final easter egg, possession of the fortune, and control of OASIS.
As a nerd from way back, I love the references (no, more than that, the open love letters) to 80-90s culture- it is truly nostalgia porn- featuring D&D, Rush, Voltron, Star Wars, Firefly, Blade Runner, and the list goes on. It is particularly fun because these characters fully embrace the purest forms of the culture, without the other pesky real-world problems of that era (particularly the Cold War and bad hair). If you're not into all the gaming/music/film homage, this book is still a good frolic, but to truly fall into it, harness your inner nerd and get your geek on.