Friday, September 16, 2011
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The year is 2044 and the world as we know it as radically changed. With economic collapse, most people staying in their homes since that is where they go to school and work. Several years earlier, a geeky genius invented the OASIS, a simulated virtual reality. There are thousands of worlds in this simulation and with the addition of a special visor and gloves, the possibilities are endless. When the creator died, he left all of his billions to the winner of a special contest - a contest he created.
That person must start with the riddle he gives at his will to begin the contest. From there, the contestant must unlock the quest, through several puzzles and gates. Five years have passed and no one has still achieved the first portion - achieving the copper key.
The "sixers" are hired from a big corporation, IOA, working to look for this elusive "egg". IOA wants to win the billions and all of the power that will go with it. The 'grunters' are those that spend all of their waking moments learning all about the tycoon's life - needing any clue that they find, and trying to establish where that first key could be, ultimately leading to the egg.
Wade Watts is a grunter who spends the majority of his days in the OASIS. He attends school online, and then works on his research to find that ultimate prize. He doesn't know what it really means to live in reality. Who would want to when the reality was so bad and you could live as whoever you want in the OASIS?
Wade unlocks the first puzzle and his name is immediately on the scoreboard that has been empty for five years. He is immediately famous, but at what price does that fame come? Not long after going through the first gate, and working on the second, he is attacked in reality. Also, others are catching up with him on the scoreboard, and he finds himself falling in love with one of the players, Art3mis. She is determined to win just as much as he is, but it will be every man for himself when the challenge alights.
There are so many pop-culture references, your head will either spin, or you will enjoy the trip down memory lane. The movies, the music, the video games and more had me nodding my head as they were referenced. The way that Cline has a video game within a videogame is genius, and the characters are relatable and rather modern. The technology used is something that can easily be foreseen in the future, but the idea that humans forsake reality for virtual reality is sad, as they would miss out on so many things.
Ready Player One is Cline's debut novel, but it doesn't read like one. I'd be very interested to see what he writes next, because this one a definite keeper! Action, romance, geeky science, pop-culture references, suspense and more are just the tips of what keeps the pages flying as you read this remarkable novel. I can't recommend it highly enough!!