Reading level: Adult/Young Adult
Size: 384 pages
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 5/5 stars
I pretty much loved everything about this book. I listened to this book on audio, imagine my surprise when I realized that this was narrated by Will Wheaton (I just listened to Fuzzy Nation a couple weeks ago which was also narrated by Will Wheaton) and he again did an absolutely stellar job of narrating. This book is so fun and is really a kick to read if you were ever interested in, or part of, 80’s geek culture. It also has a strong cyperpunk feel to it; so fans of cyberpunk should also considering checking this book out.
Wade lives in 2044 and the future is bleak, power shortages have most of humanity struggling and out of work. So most of humanity live their lives in the OASIS; a virtual reality creaked by James Halliday that consists of thousands of worlds. This is where Wade goes to school, where he plays, and where he is raised. When Halliday dies he leaves the ultimate puzzle/lottery behind. Halliday has hidden an Easter Egg in the OASIS and whoever finds it will win Halliday’s substantial fortune. Wade is one of many Gunters (egg hunters) who has spent years searching for the prize. When Wade stumbles on a clue that leads him to the first key his life is changed forever.
Did you grow up in the 80’s? Do you love games of all types? If so this is the book for you. This book basically is everything 80’s geek culture could ever ask for. There are references to numerous 80’s video games in here: Joust, Golden Ax, PacMan, Zork, and many others. As well as references to 80’s movies, music, TV shows, etc. All of this is wrapped into a quest to find three keys, conquer three gates and win the prize. So there is a bit of a classic Dungeons and Dragons feel to the book as well. But this is DnD with a cyber punk twist. Certain worlds will allow magic, and others tech, but chaos regions allow for both creating some truly mind-blowing scenes involving magic, guns, and lasers. The amount of awesome 80’s trivia in this book is incredible; Cline definitely put a ton of research into writing this book.
This isn’t just a geek fest, there is a lot to think about in this book too. Wade’s closest friends are people he’s never meet in person. Wade also spends a very small amount of time in the real world; his body is mearly a piece of equipment that he keeps exercised and fed so that he can jack in to the OASIS. This brings up questions about what it means to live; do we need to do things in person for them to be real and fulfilling? As you learn more about the genius that is Halliday this question comes to a head; was he happy with his creation or did he regret his lack of interaction with other humans?
Then there is the evil corporation that has hired people to play in the OASIS for them; this group of OASIS players is known as the sixers and they do everything in their power to win Halliday’s Easter Egg. The sixers are basically everything corporate that Halliday hated. With the Gunters going against the Sixers you have a classic story about the normal everyday man facing off against the evil corporation.
As Wade and his friends make more progress towards finding the Easter Egg consequences start to leak out of the OASIS into the real world and people start dying. It becomes less and less clear where the OASIS ends and the real world begins.
The characters in this book are awesome; they are all so real and fun to read about. The story is absolutely engaging, it is pretty quest based so that is the main driver…but as the story continues it becomes more and more compelling and impossible to put down.
All in all this book was an absolute blast to read. It was a fun read for someone like me who loves gaming of all types, it provided some great food for thought, it was funny and heartwarming, full of great action scenes and completely engaging. I highly recommend this book. My only caution would be if you do not like gaming and do not know anything about 80’s culture then a lot of this book is going to go right over your head. A lot of the negative reviews for this book are from people who don’t like gaming or just don’t get it. So, uh, seriously if you don’t like gaming why are you are reading a cyberpunk fantasy novel about 80’s gaming culture called Ready Player One!?
Highly recommended, an absolute blast to read, I can’t wait to see what Cline comes up with next.