I had heard great things about Ready Player One but for some reason I didn’t read when it first came out, I think I’ll blame it on pregnancy or a baby–I had 3 in 4 years and I think this was one of those years, because this really does seem like this would be something that I would be dying to read…so I must’ve been babyin’ it up or something. The buzz has since died down a little, but every single time I asked someone for a book recommendation he/she would say to me, “You know? I think you’d like Ready Player One”. With about, oh say, 3 billion of the same recommendations by people who supposedly know and love me, I decided to take the plunge and pick it up. I wasn’t disappointed, but I also think that I may have benefited from knowing a little more about ’80’s video games to get the full shebang. But hey, Ernest Cline threw in tons of things I DID know…like the Breakfast Club, War Games, and Pac Man so it wasn’t like I was really missing out on anything. If anything, it made me miss being a kid in probably the greatest time to be a kid–the frivolous, awesome 80’s (of course, I’m biased)!
So the story if you don’t know, goes down like this. It’s 2044, the world is a pretty terrible place to live in (few resources, fewer jobs and very little hope). Most of the world spends their time in OASIS a virtual reality world where kids go to school, you can explore different planets, check out all kinds of entertainment and learn just about anything. One of the co-creators of OASIS, James Halliday, has died but before dying creates a scavenger hunt across the virtual universe he made using all things 80’s that he loved to find an “Easter egg” ala the first “Easter egg” planted by the programmer Warren Robbinett in the game Adventure. Halliday was mostly a recluse, socially awkward and desired all people to share his common interests. This scavenger hunt that he creates forces people to become experts on him and all his favorite things. If someone finds the Easter egg, he/she will take possession of his Halliday’s fortune and control of OASIS. For over five years, no one has made any headway into the search, many have given up except the most fanatical of ‘gunters (egg hunters) and IOI, a corporation that wants to seize control of OASIS and make it a paid site( thus rendering it useless for the majority of the people). Intro our main character, Wade Watts, aka Parzival when in Oasis. Wade is an overweight trailer park kid who transcends all preconceived notions about him once he enters OASIS. He’s whip smart in terms of programming, he’s fully immersed himself in Halliday’s favorite things, both in search of the prize but also because he truly becomes a fan of most of the books,music and games that Halliday was interested in. It’s only fitting that he solves the first riddle and sets everything in motion–gaining him both fame and also some actual friends in Aesch, Art3mis, Daito and Shoto.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved most of the references and the race to solve the riddles was pretty captivating. No lie? I think I held my breath at one point while reading! The story itself is awesome, but I also loved Wade as a character. He transforms himself in the real world and begins to understand he is hiding in OASIS and that perhaps that’s not true living. Will he decide to take action based on this revelation? Well, he begins getting in shape, he falls in love and wants to act on that love IRL– so seems like young grasshopper might be growing up. There were other great messages of identity ( both gender identity as well as sexual identity), friendship, partnership and so many other topics that I saw as a very different and positive portrayal of individuals. I thought these ideas might’ve been introduced a little clunkily but that fact didn’t really take away from the story and the ideas can only add to young readers’ acceptance of self and others, so I’m not even going to make it an issue. Recently, I heard that Steven Spielberg is going to direct the movie. I can’t even wrap my brain around a) the licensing to make such a movie and b) how this is going to look? c) let’s be honest, I’m going to want to see this movie…if only to catch a glimpse or a mention of the movie Explorers and Some Kind of Wonderful because those movies are my heart.