Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

In the year 2044, the world’s societies have collapsed.  Most people seek to escape their misery by retreating into a virtual world called OASIS, a computer-generated virtual reality which holds a universe of hidden secrets.  Before his death, the mysterious creator of OASIS hid a series of “easter eggs” inside his program, with the promise to leave his enormous fortune to any gamer who could find them all.  Years have since passed, and a legion of egg hunters (or “gunters”) spend endless hours following a trail of clues relating to geek knowledge and the popular culture of the 1980s.  Wade Watts is just one more anonymous gunter, spending endless hours in the OASIS with his avatar “Parzival,” until the unexpected moment when Parzival finds the very first easter egg!  Suddenly, a huge race for the prize develops, with Parzival and the other gunters being pursued by a powerful corporation with a goal of seizing the entire OASIS.

I loved the way that this book was so fast-paced, but still managed to include a treasure trove of fun facts about the 80s.  This book will be an instant classic to anyone who grew up during that era, but even though the references might not click as quickly with younger readers, kids today will be able to gather lots of research material on the Web.  Taking a few minutes away from the story to pull up a Youtube clip from movies like “War Games” or “The Breakfast Club” will allow readers to feel like they’re discovering a hidden part of the OASIS right along with Parzival.  It’s a brilliant way to make the book almost seem like an interactive adventure, and readers will feel themselves sinking deeper into the OASIS.

Even with the moderate violence and sexual references in this book, I wouldn’t give it more than a PG-13 rating.  Reading this book is kind of like playing an awesome video game, actually, and the end result is a huge literary geekfest.  If you’ve been searching for a book that would be awesome enough to make a young gamer power down his system for a few days, look no further than Ready Player One.

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