The new novel Ready Player One from Ernest Cline took Comic-con by storm earlier this year and now we see why...
Rating: 5 smileys
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
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 scrounges 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?
I'll get this off my chest right now.. This had to be one of the best books I've read this year and will probably be one of my personal favorites going forward.
It follows (in first person narrative) Wade: a young man who goes by the name Perzival in the virtual reality world of OASIS. He and the friends he makes along the way are not only players living most of their lives in that virtual reality world, but also caught up in a contest of sorts. In death, the creator of OASIS left his fortune to the one that solves the quest he built into the world.
For five years no one was able to get anywhere on the first riddle of the quest until Perzival makes a discovery and reignites everyone's interest in finishing it. The biggest roadblock is IOI, an internet mega-corp that wants to finish the quest and roll OASIS into their business, which has built an entire division around solving the quest and has no problems removing any obstacles in its path.
What makes this story most interesting is the level of geekery layered into the story. It's not just there, but part of the story. The creator of OASIS was a major 80's buff: movies, video games, music, role playing games and more and anyone hoping to piece together the clues for his quest will have to be well-versed in all of those things. This has created an entire planet of people once again obsessed with 80's culture hoping to win the billions of dollars at stake.
I had a great time with this book. At a around 350 pages it reads quick. It's a one-shot story so you aren't diving into a trilogy (though I already miss the world and characters now that I've put the book down), and the pacing and plot keeps interest high. I'd consider all of those reasons for anyone to be able to pick this book up and try it. But more than that, the characters were outstanding. The quest and plot work well done. The worlds are well developed: both the real, slightly set in our future, world and the OASIS world. Most of all the book is just a lot of fun. Granted I grew up in the 1980's so there might have been more nostalgia involved for me than someone younger or older, but that was far from the only element involved. Anyone that has played RPG's, classic video games or has seen all the classic 80's movies will get a kick out of watching this story play out.
Throw whatever you are reading into the corner and go buy this book and read it now! Seriously though, I think anyone that loves reading any sort of story will enjoy this one. It should appeal to a pretty wide audience and if you drill down to the geek element then you really can see the core of who this book is aimed at.
Join with Reading Realms on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with the latest news about not only our column, but speculative fiction news in general. Or join the book forum here at the outhouse to take part in discussions and start your own.
You don't have to be an Outhouse member to join the discussion, simply fill out the captcha and comment below...
Comment without an Outhouse Account using Facebook
Note: while you are welcome to speak your mind freely on any topic, we do ask that you keep discussion civil between each other. Nasty personal attacks against other commenters is strongly discouraged. Thanks!
About the Author - Jeremy Shane
Jeremy was born in a small mountain village of a strange foreign land called Weystvurginea. Banishment for liberal views saw him spend years wondering the east coast until he decided to bike to California. When he saw how long a trip it was, he drove instead. Now he's living it up in a low humidity climate, sometimes working on his photography and when not, he writes for us covering books (by way of his blog: Reading Realms), gaming, tv, movies, comics, conventions in the SoCal area, and creates a weekly webcomic: A Journey Through Skyrim. If you look for him offline, start in the L.A. area; online start at: www.jeremyshane.info for his profile and all the social networks he's on... or just follow him on twitter, he seems to be on there a lot: @jeremyshane.
More articles from Jeremy Shane