Search This Blog

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

  Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From  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 was Octobers book group selection.

A fascinating melange of 1980's pastiche and a future post-apocalyptic society where everyone lives in virtual reality.   A billionaire computer programmer has died (think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs), leaving his entire company and estate to whomever can solve his Quest.  Hundreds of thousands of people will attempt in the coming years, either solo, in groups or clans, or as part of a corporation known as the Sixers.  There will be only one(Highlander)winner .

We follow Wade from the mobile home 'stacks' in Oklahoma City, where he loosely lives with his Aunt, until he solves the first riddle and reignites the Quest fever.  The Sixers attempt to convert him to the dark side (Star Wars), he refuses, and they blow up the trailer stack.  Wade goes incognito, moves, and falls in love with a fellow player named Art3mis.  As the pace of the Quest picks up, Wade, Art3mis, Aech, Shoto all vie against each other and the Sixers for the Grand Prize.  The four avatars find that bonds formed on-line will eventually lead to friends in the real world.

The dichotomy between the 1980's that everyone must learn in order to solve aspects of the Quest and this future virtual  world is kinda fascinating.  As an 80's child myself, I know most of the book, movie, game, TV's shows, and music references.  I was a bit shaky on the anime and I didn't do RPG.   Too look at the 1980's from the stand point of a future society is a bit bizarre and kinda cool.  

My only serious complaint was the love affair.  It was too...perfect.  When our Hero finally gets to meet the girl he loves, who has rebuffed all advances until now because she is "not what he expects",  her only 'flaw' is a birth mark on her face.  I would preferred something a bit more substantial.

Otherwise, a fun, futuristic, virtual reality romp.  Recommended.

View all my reviews

No comments:

Popular Posts