Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the future, everything sucks worse than it does now. At least it does in the world of Ready Player One. The world is way more messed up. There's so much overpopulation that people live in trailers stacked up like high rises. The environment is way worse. The polar ice caps have all melted. Gas is so expensive that people just abandon their cars when they run out of fuel. Unemployment is so bad that there are months-long waiting lists for fast food jobs. Everything sucks, which is why the people spend most of their time logged into OASIS.

OASIS is the ultimate role-playing game. Sort of a Sims-World of Warcraft thing. Players control avatars, go on quests, and interact with other avatars. One such avatar is controlled by Wade Watts. Wade is a penniless student, but he has greater ambitions. He's a gunter, the shortened term for egg hunter. The egg in question was hidden by James Halliday, co-creator of OASIS. Whoever finds the egg will inherit control of OASIS.

Not everyone has honorable intentions in mind when it comes to the contest. Big evil corporation IOI has their target set on acquiring the egg and OASIS. OASIS is free for everyone to join, but they want to add a fee so that only the wealthy can access the game. IOI has a separate oology department set up, which all the gunter community refers to as "Sixers" because all their employee numbers start with six.

Still, the game has been going on for ten years and nobody has cracked the first riddle. Then Wade figures it out and finds the copper key. The game is on!

I thought Ready Player One was sort of a mix of The Westing Game and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, plus video games and 80's nostalgia. Halliday grew up in the 80's and loved the pop culture of the time, so all the gunters study the movies, video games, and TV shows of that time. It's weird to think that Ferris Bueller's Day Off might be considered vintage, though it is already over twenty years old. As someone with very little knowledge of video games, a lot of the book's references went over my head, as did the many descriptions of OASIS accessories. Ready Player One is still a good quest story with a nice romantic subplot. I loves me a geek love story, and Wade (Parzival) and Art3mis are a great one.

I got my ebook of Ready Player One from Netgalley, but it's been available for a while now.

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