Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Things That I Read:

This Week: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Grade: A+

Oh my god!! I mean OH MY GOD!!! Ok, this book is amazing. It's kind of hard not to geek out about it because it is like the ultimate book to geek out about. So remember that dream you had in high school where you were defeating the armies of Mordor during the Battle of Pelennor Fields but then all of a sudden you turned into a giant robot and blew up all the orcs with your laser vision? Or that time you imagined you were defending your coworkers from Magneto because really all along you were a former member of the X-Men but like hiding incognito so that nobody would find you? Ok... maybe not. But do you have fond memories of watching 80s movies, of reciting Monty Python by heart, of late night games of D+D, of old school video games? This is that book. This books is like... it's like a mash up of everything wonderful that you've ever remembered.

Alright down to to the plot. Combine the Star Trek holodeck, Comic Con, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and add equal parts War Games and The Wizard and stir. In the not to distant future, the world is connected to one another via an amazing virtual reality world called OASIS. People live almost their entire lives in OASIS: get married, go on adventures to various planets, go to high school, fight in P2P deathmatches. The creator of OASIS James Halliday has died, and instead of leaving his billions to an heir he creates an ultimate scavenger hunt for easter eggs hidden within the virtual world. But the thing is, James Halliday was OBSESSED with the 1980s. So even though the year is 2044, people have become crazy about the 80s again trying to find clues to Halliday's treasure. References to old movies, TV shows, and especially video games abound. This is not particularly a book for the completely uninitiated, though encyclopedic knowledge is not necessary (the reader isn't a "gunter" or egg-hunter after all). We follow a young high school student named Wade, or as his friends online know him "Parzival," as he attempts to solve the mystery of the game. Along the way he is aided by the help of his online friends and thwarted by an evil corporation whose minions are attempting to win the game in order to take over the OASIS.

Is it contrived? At times. Does it read like the notebook of a 17 year old boy? Yes, yes it does. That's its appeal. Because if you WERE that 17 year old boy (or girl) once, if you drew pictures of Transformers or half-elven mages in the margins of your Chemistry textbook, then this book IS you. It really does read like every awesome dream I've ever had, except it doesn't have that part where Indiana Jones comes swinging through my closet (unfortunately). It is epic and funny and exciting, and damn if it is a trip. Like nothing else. Truly worth the ride