Recently, I downloaded Ready Player One, after my friend told me about it and in a lull between books, this seemed promising.
This book surprised me in a lot of ways. It opens up in the future (2040s, I believe) in a post energy-crisis America. The entire country is in a state of chaos save for large cities. Small town are reduced to rubbish where everyone is poor, huddling in RVs stacked on scaffolding. Our “hero”, Wade, is a high schooler who has been plugged into the OASIS, the virtual reality world created by James Halliday, since he was a young boy. In fact, most of the world spends their time plugged in to escape. But what turns everything on its end is when the creator of this virtual world dies and tells everyone that there will be a hunt for his fortune. It involves three keys to three doors and if you find it, you inherit it all. So players everywhere, known as Gunters, go on the search.
What we quickly learn is that Halliday was a huge fan of the 1980s, so the entire Oasis has little homages to aspects of 80s pop culture and nerd culture and the clues to find the keys are all hidden within the things Halliday himself liked most. There are entire planets built as replicas of his favorite movie scenes and even his pizza place hangout and his home and room.
We follow Wade as he starts deciphering the clues from his special hideout. Though he lives with his aunt, he found an abandoned van (from when people started deserting their vehicles when gas prices rose too high) and made it his safe spot from which he could access the OASIS. He gets close to the first clue and we’re introduced to his best friend, Aech (pronounced “H”) and then he meets Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto, who – though they are in competition with him – are still in league with him and his avatar, Parzival, because they fight for good. On the other side of this are the Sixers who are basically corporate gunters, hired by a huge conglomerate that represents all that is evil in the world. If they find the keys and the treasure, they’d use it for personal gain and then raise prices on the OASIS and take away the one last thing most people have.
To me, the best parts of this book lay in the ways Wade connects pieces together from the 1908s tidbits of information. That was fun for me. I also felt a connection to him when he fell in love with Art3mis, especially seeing as how so many young people today are used to a world in which we carry on relationships online without ever having met the person.
This book took an interesting turn about 3/4 of the way through so even though it is in first person, something I don’t typically enjoy, it works and kept me on edge. I wanted to read this book every day and yet, I dragged out the last few chapters so it wouldn’t end. If you know about “nerdy” things, computer things, 1980s culture, etc, you’d probably like this. If you’re pretty mainstream, some of the stuff might be lost on you (i.e. the place where he bought some items is the L33t HaXorz; this means something to me.) It didn’t receive the highest reviews on Amazon but to me, it was a really fun read.