Monday, June 18, 2012

Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline
5 / 5 Gnomes

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.  

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

~Amazon Description~

I think Author Patrick Rothfuss said it best with the quote on the back of the hardcover edition, "Completely fricking awesome.  This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body.  I felt like to was written just for me." 

I loved this book.  I knew very early that my affection would be deep and sincere.  It all started on page 26, the last page of chapter one.  The main character, one Wade Watts, a.k.a. Parcival, is asked to recite his login pass phrase to enter the digital world of the Oasis, to which he recites "You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada."  That's right.  Wade just recited a line from The Last Starfighter.  One of my favorite 80s space movies.  I was in heaven.

My affections grew with discussions on John Hughes movies, a character choosing the name Kira after watching The Dark Crystal, and a planet in the Oasis where you complete a Goondock adventure.  And to top it all off, there was this emotional, fast paced, thrill ride of a story.  The story has elements of dystopia drenched in science fiction, but at the very core, it's filled with heartfelt human moments.

Wade is lonely, and he finds acceptance and purpose in an environment outside of the real world.  And who can blame him.  He's an orphan living in a world of depleted resources and terrible violence.  This genius of a man, Jim Halliday, computer programmer billionaire, creates a treasure hunt unlike anything the world has ever seen in the virtual world he created.  It is during this hunt that Wade finds friendship, loyalty, love, sacrifice, and courage.  And within all of this are some seriously spectacular 80s references.

If like feeling nostalgic, enjoy a good treasure hunt, or like rooting for the underdog, (or enjoyed the movie Fanboys!!) check out Ernest Cline's Ready Player One.

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