Thursday, 27 November 2014

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
Year Read: 2014
Book Format: Kindle eBook
Star Rating: 5 stars

I had to read Ready Player One because many of my Goodreads friends had and they'd rated it 5 stars! It's also shelved as Science Fiction, Cyberpunk and Dystopian, three genres that I really enjoy!

While reading this book, I was so torn between reading as fast as I could to find out what happened, to slowing down so that I could savour the story, the characters and revel in all those 80s popular culture references.

This book was so good! 5 stars without a shadow of a doubt and it also made it on to my favourites shelf.

So the story is told from the POV of Wade, an 18 year old high school student who lives in a trailer stack in a dystopian future world. We don't see much of that world but it's pretty dank and dismal and life is pretty harsh. So in comes OASIS, a fully submersible computer generated world where you can learn anything you want, go to school, play games, watch movies, and basically do anything you can do in the real world and then some. In this world you can be anyone you want to be and do anything you want to do (if you have enough credits, hit points, experience points and have leveled up). When the designer of OASIS dies, he bequeaths his estate to the person who can find the Easter egg he has hidden in the program. And the quest begins...

No other book has made me feel as much of a geek as this book did. But that's a good thing! The video-game world that the book is based just plays to my inner geek (who am I kidding - there's no inner, I just am!)

The writing and the storyline I suppose you could say is reasonably simplistic but it is really well written with some excellent characters which are well developed - the kind you can really care about and identify with.

I liked the writing style, in particular all the 80's references - yes I've mentioned them again but they are a really important part of the book and what made it so fantastic. The protagonist of the book, Wade, as I have mentioned already is 18 years old and I do wonder what an 18 year old person would think of this book if they read it now - would they enjoy it as much as I did without knowing what all those book, game, comic book, TV, film references related to?! Sure they'll recognise a few but some are quite obscure. The author is American and so naturally the pop culture references are to do with the American 80's as opposed to the British 80's (which I experienced) and while a vast majority of that decade is shared, there were also many differences, so I did miss some of the references.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was so much fun and I spent the vast majority of the time fangirling over all the references in the book (and the book as a whole). I see that Ernest Cline has a book set for publication in 2015 and I will definitely be reading that one as soon as it comes out.

I'm really sad that the book is over now but I think I'd actually read it again some day.

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