Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Reads; Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Wow.  Just WOW!

I bought this one a while back and then it sort of got pushed to the middle of my reading list.  Then hubby hopped in the car after work one day a couple of weeks ago, lugging a hardcover version.  I told him "We have the ebook, y'know"  and then I watched my normally-not-much-of-a-reader hubby devour the book in less than 24 hours!  I knew it had just moved up the to-read list a whole bunch of steps...like to right as soon as I finished Book of Life.

Ok - here's the premise.  It's 30 years in the future.  The earth has kinda gone to hell in a handbasket so everyone is checking out of real life and into OASIS, an immersive virtual reality world.  People work there, attend school there, build planets, play games etc etc etc.

One day, the creator of the OASIS - an eccentric mega-billionaire named Halliday - passes away and, because he has no family or close friends, a video is released telling people that the company and all of the money and power that go with it are up for grabs...for the first person to find an easter egg he hid in the OASIS.  But there's a catch - it's not going to be easy.  To find the egg, you have to find three keys - bronze, jade and crystal - and complete the associated challenges.   Only completing these in sequence will lead you to the easter egg.

Wade Watts is a high school student who has been obsessed with the challenge since it was announced.  Five long years of studying everything he can about James Halliday and his obsessions - namely popular culture of the 1980s...the time when Halliday was a child.   Watts (aka Parzival, as far as the OASIS knows) is a poor kid who pretty much has to stay on the planet he attends school on.  When suddenly he has a flash of inspiration and becomes the first person to obtain one of the keys - the entire OASIS goes nuts!

Before you know it, there are offers of employment, death threats and unlikely friendships coming out of the woodwork.  Wade's life just became a much different place...and there is still A LOT more of the challenge to play out to see who will win the big prize.

Ok - not giving any more away.  This book is a delightfully geeky romp.  One of my favourite books on this planet is Fire in the Valley and this felt a lot like that book (though fictional, of course).  It also had elements of the Hunger Games in that this match happens within a contained arena.  And then there is all the delicious pop culture stuff that I just gobbled up since it was a lovely nostalgic walk through my childhood memories.

This book is brilliant.  It has it all - LITERALLY - geekiness, pop culture, romance, violence, friendship, mystery - and it is all wrapped up in this intelligent little package.  So original.

While the book keeps you reading at a pretty fast clip - there does come a point where you really don't want to put it down as it barrels through the last quarter of the book.

I'm going to admit this probably isn't for everyone.   It will really appeal to geeks around my age - anyone who remembers the games they used to play on their old Vic20s (Radar Rat Race anyone? - I WAS sad this one never made it into the book).  I LOVED the way that the OASIS was portrayed.  It was just like this immersive Internet where you could lose yourself and unplug from a yucky real life.  Kind of an agoraphobics dream, really.

Such. a. great. read.

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