I had been meaning to pick up this title for a while, ever since that book preview I stumbled into. This book was highly recommended, and was listed along with several other amazing upcoming titles on a handy-dandy little powerpoint slide printout.
I have since learned two things: 1. I must never again miss a book preview, because the books they recommend are pure gold; and 2. I must never again lose the powerpoint slide printouts they give out. Which I did. I have been ransacking my room for the past few days, looking for it desperately. Mainly because, if the rest of the books on that list are as good as The Night Circus and Ready Player One, I will have an outstanding year of reading.
Like The Night Circus, I read this book in about 3 days. No, I didn’t completely neglect my homework, but I did stay up a bit later and choose to read instead of watch TV (a very rare event). It’s that good.
About the book
I’m not a huge fan of this book trailer, but I think it does help to capture the style of the book.
The story is set in a dystopian future: the good old USA has done its worst, and civilization is left with bad weather, poverty, and a surprising amount of technology. A large number of citizens have abandoned the real world altogether, instead logging most of their waking hours inside an intricate simulation called the OASIS. Designed and programmed by an eccentric billionaire, the OASIS is now most people’s reality: people work inside the simulation, go to school, spend real-world money on animated clothes and travel for their avatars. It’s an enormous universe, with hundreds of thousands of planets, and it’s accessible to almost everyone – there is only a 25 cent fee to join for life.
One of the reasons the OASIS is so popular is the hunt for the Easter Egg in the game. Before he died, creator J.D. Halliday programmed a quest into the simulation – he hid 3 keys which unlocked 3 gates, all over the OASIS universe. On the day he died, he left one single clue to the first key, and announced that whoever completed the quest would be his sole heir, receiving in excess of 200 billion dollars. The only other clue he left behind was a huge document, detailing his favourite shows, movies, games and trivia – mostly having to do with 80’s pop culture, which he loved.
Wade, the main character, is a “gunter” (short for egg-hunter) – someone who has devoted much of his life and free time to studying all the things Halliday loved, and trying to find the first key. He’s also the first one to find it, which sets a whole storm of events into motion. (And boy, is it a ride.)
What I loved Most
This book picked me up, and did not put me back down until I turned the last page. It was so interesting, fascinating – more than once, I actually said “coool” out loud and got really giddy. It was just so cool! Even for someone who isn’t a sci-fi fan, or a video game person, I still loved reading about that culture, especially from the point of view of someone who lives and breathes it. The detail in the book is amazing, and there are so many awesome little details. I love books that make me want to live them (ahem, Harry Potter), and this one certainly did. I wanted an avatar. I wanted to go explore the Lord of the Rings planet, and then go to an old bowling alley from the 80’s and get pizza, then fly around in my fake spaceship for a while.
I also loved that it makes you think about where technology is taking us. The future that Ernest Cline envisions isn’t all that hard to imagine. In fact, it’s pretty easy – not far off from where we’re headed. And the book forces you to consider what it would be like if everyone ignored reality and turned instead to virtual reality. Would it be better? Worse?
Honestly, I wouldn’t be saying “read this book!” if I didn’t think everyone would like it. It’s one of those books that you can so easily imagine it as a movie (and in fact, there’s an IMDB Pro listing for the film version already), because everything is so vivid. And cool, did I mention cool? I’d recommend it for sci-fi and video game fans first and foremost. Don’t let that deter you, it’s less nerdy than you think. If you liked The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Night Circus.. I’m betting you’ll like this book.
What do you think? Have there been any books catching your eye lately? Any up-and-coming titles to recommend?
You can buy Ready Player One online here.