Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. 

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

My Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a book I decided to read because a) Steven Spielberg is making it into a film and b) everyone I know raves about it.  Firstly I need to clarify that sci-fi is not a genre I would normally read, the subject matter (video games and geeks) is not a subject that I have any interest in and I might even admit that if it hadn’t been so highly recommended I may have deliberately avoided this book!

Ernest Cline has created a frightening (and unfortunately plausible) future for the human race; poverty, famine, social collapse and the majority of human interaction is through a virtual reality world called OASIS.  The book starts with the death of James Halliday the creator of OASIS who has left his fortune and company to the first person who can solve his complicated riddles, obtain 3 keys and open the door to infinite riches and power.  Enter our hero Wade Watts, an awkward teenager who is OBSESSED with James Halliday and OASIS and spends the next 5 years trying to solve the riddles (along with the entire universe).

When Wade then manages to solve the first riddle and obtain the first key – his life changes and he finds himself targeted virtually and in real life.  There are constant referrals to the 80’s pop culture – some I remembered and some which went right over my head.  I did find the first half of the book more of a struggle due to the continually VR references, however the second half became a thrilling and gripping chase against time and I raced through the second half enjoying every single page.

About the Author: ERNEST CLINE has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his family, a time traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.

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