Book review: Ready Player One

The year isn’t close to being over, but I already know Ready Player One will be on my Top Five Favorite Books I read in 2017.

Correction: I listened to it. But still.

It’s 2045 and an energy crisis led to the depletion of fossil fuels, which means the Earth is a big fat mess. Because real life is so miserable, humans heavily prefer living in a virtual reality world called The Oasis. Created by a Steve Jobsesque billionaire/computer builder/80s fanatic named James Halliday, The Oasis is made up of thousands of levels and worlds, some for fun, others as part of a new society. (Public school happens in The Oasis.)

Upon his death, it was announced that Halliday – unmarried, no kids – would leave his money and the keys to The Oasis to the one person who found the hidden Easter Egg inside the virtual world.

Not a literal Easter Egg, of course, but a hidden message usually planted in films and games. Whoever finds the egg inherits Halliday’s fortune.

Wade Watts (known as Parzival in The Oasis) desperately wants to find the egg. He lives in “the stacks,” literal squalor of stacked trailer homes in Oklahoma City. With no family or real-life friends, he devotes his entire high school life to searching for the egg. The obsession requires each “gunter” (egg hunter) become as knowledgeable as possible about 80s pop culture because everything about the hunt is connected to Halliday’s childhood favorites.

I am here to tell you that the 80s references had my heart a-flutter throughout the entire book. If ever there was a love letter written to the 80s, it is Ready Player One.

Along for the journey are Wade’s virtual reality friend Aech (pronounced “H”) and his virtual reality crush Artemis. Though they aren’t working as a team, they work in tandem with two other gunters to 1) find the egg, and 2) prevent a horrible multinational corporation from finding the egg and monetizing The Oasis.

This is the first – and maybe the last – time I’ve read a Science Fiction book and reviewed it on this site. I’m not sure what it will take for me to read another one. Ready Player One – narrated by Wil Wheaton on audio book – is everything an 80s child like me loves: a sweeping adventure with nail-biting action and regular references to favorites such as Pac-Man, The Muppet Show, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Atari, and – our first computer – the Commodore 64. (In fact, here’s a list of all the allusions and references Cline makes in the book.)

IT IS SO GOOD. While I normally recommend people read the real book, today I’m recommending the audio book. Wil Wheaton makes it all worth it.

For funsies, here’s a link to the movie trailer for Ready Player One, set to come out in 2018. 

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