Ready Player One Review
When several of my friends suggested that I read the book Ready Player One, at first I was a bit hesitant. To be honest I don’t really care to read novels: A) I don’t have the time, B) I don’t have the attention span, and C) my eyes tend to get sore after awhile. However they suggested that I listen to the audio book read by Wil Wheaton. So I reluctantly decided to give it a listen, and I told myself that if I didn’t like the story after the first chapter, I’d stop listening to it. Boy was I glad I gave it a shot!
Ready Player One is published by Random House, written by Ernest Cline (screenwriter to the movie Fan Boys), and came out on August 16th, 2011. The story starts off in the year 2044 with the world in near ruins. Gaming had evolved into a creation known as the OASIS. The OASIS is a massive multiplayer online (MMO) simulation game created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow, programmers for Gregarious Simulation Systems (GSS). The OASIS had grown so big that it had just about replaced the “real world” as we currently know it, and because of this, the “real world” had been heavily neglected. If you’re a Star Trek fan like I am think of the OASIS as a massive Holodeck. Both Halliday and Marrow had grown to become multi-billionaires because of the OASIS, and Halliday had recently passed away. Before doing so he had created a contest where he had hidden three keys and an Easter egg somewhere throughout the OASIS. Halliday had thought of this idea because one of his favorite videogames growing up was Adventure for the Atari 2600 (the first popular game with an Easter egg). For any lucky “Gunter” (player) to find the one hidden Easter egg, they would be entitled to Halliday’s wealth. In order to find Holliday’s Easter egg however they had to unlock three gates first by finding the three keys. Each key provided a hint that the “Gunter” then had solve based on something from Halliday’s 70’s or 80’s nostalgic past. Halliday had been a huge fan of retro videogames, movies, and music from the 1970’s/1980’s, and throughout the story there are references to classic arcades including Joust, Pac-man, and Zork, classic movies including Ladyhawke, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and WarGames, and even classic rock groups including AC-DC and Rush.
Being a child from the 80’s I could really relate to the multiple pop culture references throughout the story. I’d smile at times when I heard a reference to a videogame, movie, or band that I grew up with myself being a fan of. I eventually found myself addicted to the story and in a very real sense found it to be my own personal “OASIS”. In addition Ready Player One has everything that I look for in a classic science fiction story which include a powerful villain, characters that I could relate to, and a surprising romantic story arc that I wasn’t expecting, yet it added a nice touch to the overall plot.
If there was one thing that I would critique about Ready Player One, it would be that there were some parts of the story that seemed a bit far fetched. For example to expect someone to memorize a classic 80’s movie (at this time over 60 years old) word for word verbatim, that’s a lot to ask for. Or to expect a player to beat the highest score of a vintage arcade game…that’s no small feat either.
Overall Ready Player One is a fun story that will connect to the “nerd” in all of us. Even if you didn’t grow up in the 70’s or 80’s I believe you will still enjoy the overall story. I saw influences from the Matrix, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other classic sci-fi stories in this book, and a part of me is sad that the story is over. The good news is that on June 2010 Warner Bros purchased the rights to create a feature film. I can hardly wait to see how that turns out!
I highly recommend that you either read or listen to Ready Player One. It is a detailed story that any gamer will relate to.
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