Monday, January 5, 2015

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is one of my Secret Santa gifts, a book recommended and which I added because it sounded interesting.  You know what’s so cool about Secret Santa?  People give you something you kinda, sorta, maybe want to read, something you wouldn’t buy for yourself because there are so many other things that rise to the top.  This novel is about a boy who lives in a dystopian future where society has collapsed in on itself, where the only escape from a brutal reality is a virtual reality game, OASIS.  The context—a story that takes place in a video game—would have kept me from jumping in to read this because I don’t consider myself a gamer.  This didn’t keep me from enjoying the novel very much.  Maybe it’s because, on top of all the video game allusions, there are many allusions to ‘80s pop-culture from movies to music, with quotes from books to television shows.   

The novel draws on many of the classic hero-myth archetypes.  Wade is living an ordinary life when the creator of OASIS announces a contest in which he leaves his entire fortune to anyone who can find the Easter Egg hidden deep in one of the many worlds within the game.  In other words, Wade, and everyone in the world, receives The Call.  Wade begins the quest at a distinct disadvantage; he is an orphan, has only one friend within the game, and little access to the resources those with more money have.  Told in the first person, Wade explains what the winner will receive and that he completed the first part of the quest before backtracking and describes how he managed to put disparate and vague clues together to determine where the first of three keys is.

Much of the novel is predictable but this didn’t keep me from having so much fun devouring this novel.  I have no doubt that I didn’t catch every cultural reference. I know I didn’t understand each and every video game or even anime reference.  My ignorance didn’t keep me from having a lot of fun following Wade on his journey as he attempts to be the one and only player to find the Easter Egg.  The conclusion is especially gratifying, not without some ambiguity.  And I admit, I love a novel that ends without everything being neatly tied in a bow.  This book was a blast and I encouraged my son to get a copy because I just know he’d enjoy it even more than I, which is saying a lot!

For the kindle edition, click here.
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