Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This is a dystopian novel set in the year 2044.  You could also call it a quest novel, a coming of age novel, or near future science fiction.  It melds many different themes into a unique, funny, and exciting story.  The one common theme that seems to unite all of it is geek culture, video games, and the 1980s.

Wade Watts the main character, is a geeky kid who spends most of his time in the virtual world of OASIS.  Virtual reality in this setting is extremely realistic.  Wade Watts even goes to school in the virtual world.  The virtual world he escapes into is infinitely better than his horrific, crowded, dangerous trailer park existence in the real world. The theme of bits versus atoms pervades this book.  In the real world, even virtual money is worth more than most national currencies.

The story is centered around a contest to gain control of the world wide virtual world called OASIS.  To do this, the entrants must solves riddles that were part of the creator of the virtual world's childhood.  The childhood is a kind of super fanboy and geek festival filled with 1980s references; everything from Duran Duran to Star Trek to the video game Joust.  It is very funny.  It reminds me a bit of my own childhood.

The book adds in many tropes: a love interest, an evil corporation, and plenty of action.  It moves very quickly from scene to scene and makes you want to find out what happens next.  The book made me laugh and smile while I was reading it.  It is lot of fun especially if you are nostalgic about the 1980s, liked roleplaying games, video games, comics, and listened to rock music.

Ernest Cline has a website  .  The book Ready Player One is coming out in August of 2011.  I was reading an advanced reading copy sent to me by Library Journal   I think this book will cross reading genres and be appealing to a wide audience.

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