Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Science Fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads Summary: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 is scrounging 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?
This book is so much fun!
I picked up this book because I'd heard nothing but rave reviews from the blogosphere, and I was looking for a funny story to get me through finals week. I really enjoyed this book; I've read about virtual realities and video games come to life as a kid (Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent, one of the Pendragon books), but this was somehow a totally different experience.
The book starts out kind of like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There's a world-famous entrepreneur who decides to leave his inheritance to someone he believes is worthy - someone who can pass the challenges and tests he has left behind. This story is decidedly darker than Charlie and the Chocolate factory though, because when reality and virtual reality collide, there are some very high stakes for everyone involved. It's one thing to attack someone in a game to win; it's another thing entirely to incapacitate them in real life to win a game.
I thought the riddles and the 80s trivia were really cleverly incorporated into the story, but this is certainly more of a character book than a plot book. There is a lot happening and the stakes are high, but you keep reading to find out what happens to the characters you have grown to love. All of these characters are unapologetic nerds, and one of the big questions is whether someone's online persona is a good representation of who they really are. Everyone sees themselves differently, and sometimes people have to hide their true identity to be taken seriously. I loved how that rather harsh reality was not only incorporated but fully addressed in the novel.
I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a high-adrenaline, fast-paced story that will keep you laughing through the whole thing.
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