Saturday, 23 February 2013

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

“This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt it was written just for me.”

                                                                                                                        Patrick Rothfuss

In Ready Player One, Ernest Cline creates a future not as bright as we may anticipate and not as unlikely as we may wish. It's the year 2045 and all the oil and gas is burnt up. We have a big, worldwide energy crisis going on, accompanied by a drastic climate change, famine, poverty, diseases and wars, fought over the last resources this planet has to give.
The only thing that makes life bearable for most people is the OASIS, a massive globally networked virtual reality where they spend most of their time.
Ready Player One is a dystopian novel where Cline uses common tropes in a new and imaginative setting. The hero is a poor, disillusioned orphan boy, who has to overcome big struggles to finally save the world. But his weapon of choice is not a magical sword, but Eighties pop culture geek knowledge. On his (virtual) travels he meets a (kind of) princess, but neither is she the prettiest girl in town, nor does she need any saving.
Five years before the story takes place, James Halliday, the single owner of the OASIS, dies. And since he didn't have family to pass ownership of the OASIS on to, he prepared a massive contest known as an “Easter Egg Hunt”, promising the winner the ownership of the OASIS. To win the contest, one had to know a lot about Halliday, who was a massive nerd, who grew up in the Eighties. He had a C64, an Atari, played Dungeons and Dragons and loved Monty Python, Star Wars and Back to the Future.
You can imagine what happened next? Yep. Massive. Eighties. Revival. Surge.
Five years later, nobody believes that the first key can be found. Until the lead character, Wade Watts, manages exactly that. But now, Wade has a problem. A big one. This feat makes Wade the most wanted man in the world. And while he's hunting for the egg online, others are hunting him in real life.
Cline's characters are complex and realistic with their little quirks and weaknesses. The main characters in particular are believably written and each have a personal history, making it easy to follow why they act the way they do.
The only exception is the level of their geekiness. It is not believable that somebody watched Monty Python's Holy Grail 157 times over the past six years (and that they can even remember that exact number).
We don't have a virtual reality like that (yet), but a piece of our lives already takes place online and Cline writes about all the interesting, fascinating or even dangerous situations that may develop there. Like finding friends on the internet - sometimes as a character, created for a special game. Or the dangers if your personal data gets in the wrong people's hands, or like falling in love and someday having to face that person in reality...
Ready Player One is a page-turner with an amazing pace. I wasn't able to put it away and I've reread it not even half a year after first reading it. You normally don't read SF? No problem. All you need to enjoy this book immensely is having been a kid in the Eighties or Nineties. It’s a roller coaster ride through Eighties pop culture and full of innovative, cool and funny ideas. Go read this book, you won't regret it.
And may the force be with you.
About the Reviewer: When Christian Abresch was fifteen, he stayed home to write a fantasy book instead of going with his parents and brother on vacation. More fantasy novels, poems and short stories followed in the years to come and since each was less crappy than the one before he hopes to get published someday. To keep his fingers on the pulse of fantasy, he loves browsing Fantasy-Faction with its articles, reviews and forums even though it caused an unnatural growing of his TBR, which worries him. Christian lives with his girlfriend and an imaginary cat in Berlin. Follow him on twitter: @xiaiswriting.


Lisa Taylor said...

Great review! I loved this book :) Really, really fun, fast read.

Douglas Smith said...

Agreed - one of my all time favourites. Definitely on my very short list of books I will reread!

All Alaska Outdoors Fishing Lodge - Alaska Ptarmigan Hunting said...

I just finished this and have already passed it on to my friend. I know so many people who would love it just got to spread the word!t

Best Reviews for Seattle Divorce Lawyer Newcombe said...

If you grew up in the 80s, you love video games, you like suspense novels, you have a penchant for obscure trivia or if you enjoy a great romance novel - this is the book for you. ENJOY!