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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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4,0444551,258 ()3 / 501
While creative and even brilliantly inventive in some spots (yes, Saturday Night Live shows are still entertaining audiences a few decades into the future), Cline's book simply is too long for its storyline. Midway through this peek into a bleak futuristic society, it's easy to feel like a computer gamer who realizes that are still 32 grueling levels to conquer before the real payoff occurs. Don't get me wrong. "Ready Player One" is dotted with some eyebrow-raising wow factors, and there are a good number of laugh-out-loud moments. But there are just way too many unnecessary details and diversions from the main story path for my liking. This would have made for a wonderful novella -- or at least a scaled-down novel. I'm usually a fan of dystopian tales (I'm a magnet at parties for folks in search of nuggets of optimism and inspiration), so I was surprised that Cline's yarn wore thin after our gamers started the second leg of their explorations. Still, I think readers with more patience than I have will enjoy this unique journey into a problem-plagued futuristic society. ( )
  brianinbuffalo | Feb 12, 2012 |
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If books could be designated as mashups, then Ready Player One would be called a glorious mashup of fantasy, science fiction, eighties culture, and gaming. The story is set a couple of decades in the future, and the world has not fared well. Energy supplies were exhausted, creating an energy crisis. Massive population shifts occurred as people abandoned rural areas to live near big cities where more resources could be found, wars increased as people fought over those scarce resources, and economies around the world plummeted. While the physical earth deteriorated, the virtual world exploded in a paradise of perfection and possibilities. A genius game designer, James Halliday, created OASIS, which began as a massive multiplayer online game that immersed players in the world with visors and gloves that allowed readers to see and feel what they played. OASIS quickly evolved into a virtual reality system, offering endless possibilities for communicating, gaming, shopping, and education. More and more people escape into this still beautiful virtual universe as their physical world declines around them.

The story begins at the moment in the future when James Halliday dies, and describes his unusual will. ( )
  nmhale | Feb 25, 2015 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand it had some exciting parts and the world/characters were interesting. But on the other hand there are some pretty serious flaws in the writing and plot. The author has the tendency to describe all sorts of details about the virtual gaming world of the novel or 80s pop culture. About half-way through the book I was just tired of paragraphs of descriptions. I just wanted to plot to speed up and move forward.

The other problem is the numerous plot inconsistences/flaws. For instance, it stretches the imagination considerably that some 18-year old kid could have spent so much time watching movies (at one point the character mentions that he's seen some favorite movie 150 times), tv shows, playing video games, reading books (essentially learning and experiencing everything about the 80s), as well as becoming an expert hacker. The character seems to have no need for sleep as well as infinite time to become a master of everything. It also drove me nuts that no one in the entire book has heard of google. A big part of the book centers on solving puzzles/riddles. This would involve the character sitting around for days to weeks contemplating some poem and what it meant. It became quickly apparent to me that a few keyword searches would reveal most of what these puzzles meant. The bad guys had hundreds of people trying to solve these puzzles, but apparently couldn't tell left from right. I could go on and on, but no need.

Perhaps I'm missing the point. This book is clearly a homage to the 80s and geekdom. If this was a hollywood movie, I would probably ignore most of the flaws since hollywood doesn't get most plots right anyway. I'd probably just sit back, enjoy the special effects, action, and craziness of it all, while relying on suspension of disbelief. And maybe that's how I should have read this book. In the end I'd give it between 3.5 and 4 stars, but will settle on 4 stars. ( )
  aarondesk | Feb 23, 2015 |
YA dystopian homage to gaming and to the 80s in the form of a competetive game.
  bfister | Feb 23, 2015 |
Absolutely awesome!!! I'll be shocked if this isn't adapted to film or a graphic novel in the near future. ( )
  TBones | Feb 18, 2015 |
"Ready Player One" is a science-fiction celebration of the nerdy 1980's and MMORPG cultures. The story takes place in a world where the fortune of a wealthy eccentric has been willed to whosoever should complete a particularly puzzling MMORPG 1980's trivia quest.

While there was humor in the story, I would have appreciated if tone was more consistently light. An early chapter contains an absurd old-school arcade machine duel between a dead wizard and a knight in shining armor. Another chapter features a battle between Mecha Godzilla and Ultraman. However, between those silly scenes there are innocent families burned alive in their homes and a reclusive young man dragged from his bedroom and brutally murdered. This dissonance makes the violence more shocking, but it also made the book less enjoyable for me.

Culturally, I'm a decade too young for this book. I missed 3 of every 4 cultural references to 1980's obscurity, and I've never really liked MMORPGs. On the other hand, I think if I were any older then I would've found the (cute, occasionally saccharine) romantic subplot even less satisfying.

If you love the idea of a future centered around the nerdy parts of the 1980's, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, go read a great Sci-Fi novel from the 80's instead. I recommend Neuromancer or Ender's Game, though anyone considering "Ready Player One" has probably read those already. ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
Wade Watts escapes reality through submerging himself in a massive multiplayer online world... but then again so does everyone else. The world is in serious decline and ever since OASIS was created, no one wants to spend much time in reality, especially since the now dead creator of OASIS has left riddles and puzzles that offer the promise of billions of dollars. At first I thought this book might be disappointing... just another book about gaming to pull in young adult male readers, but I was wrong. I couldn't put this book down; I was rooting for Wade and his friends the whole way while they worked to solve the OASIS riddles despite their impoverished backgrounds. Recommended for teens and adults who enjoy science fiction. ( )
  AleashaKachel | Jan 27, 2015 |
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this - other than a letdown after the glowing reviews I've read - but Ready Player One far surpassed my expectations and then some. It had everything: puzzles, romance (and it wasn't forced or obnoxious either), genuine diversity, every fandom under the sun, 80s references, and Wil Wheaton. I couldn't not like it! There were a few times when I thought the plot was falling wildly off-track, but when it all came together with a literal deus ex machina I couldn't bother to be bothered by the little things.

I started this at noon today for National Readathon Day and haven't done a thing since then. Absolute A+ from me. Now excuse me while I go do chores and other 'normal' things that I've neglected for the last seven hours. ( )
  readstolive | Jan 24, 2015 |
One of the best books I have read this year! Great combination of video games, puzzles, action and adventure.
If you like 80's pop culture get ready for a bunch of references!!!
A must read! ( )
  KatesReviews | Jan 24, 2015 |
Description: At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

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.

Thoughts: I'm still a little unsure how I feel about this book. I thought sleeping on it might help me put my thoughts into coherent phrases but I don't think it helped much.

On the one hand, I devoured this, listening to it in just over 2 days. That has NEVER happened before. Audiobooks are usually for those in-between moments like driving or lying in bed before sleep. I actually sat on my couch for the better part of two days and just listened to this book. It was weird.

On the other, there were countless times while I was listening that I thought to myself, "This is ridiculous. Why am I listening to these characters ramble on and on about 70s and 80s computer and gaming technology that I couldn't care less about?"

I think, when I get down to the heart of it, I appreciate a story that is very different than most of those available today. I also enjoy an underdog story, a story of some nobody pitting their self against a huge conglomerate entity. In the first chapters I was wholeheartedly on Wade's side.

I think had the story stayed more in the vein of the first chapters, I would have been a huge fan. There was this interesting and impressive balance between the real world and how hard it was for Wade (and millions of others) and the beauty and benefit of the OASIS. That Wade was a creature of both at the same time was very compelling. But when the story took a turn decidedly INTO the OASIS and all it's inherent "perks" I was almost completely turned off by the story. I couldn't relate. I couldn't see how this bit of story about owning a digital asteroid and going to the best parties and turning into FUCKING MERMAID RAVERS had anything to do with saving the digital world from bad guys or being an authentic person in cyber space or felt based in the reality/surreality that Cline had been creating, the one that had me hooked.

Ultimately, I think the thing that really bothered me the most was that this is almost my worst nightmare. As much as my life is online now, as removed from the real world as I can be at times, at no point have I ever wanted to live inside the net. Places like SecondLife and MMORPGs have never held any allure for me. What I really want is for the social world I have found inside the net to be manifest somewhere in the real world. I want all of you and all my other internet friends to live in some nice little town somewhere that we've made perfect. But the idea of abandoning this world for some world in cyberspace... it just does not sit well with me.

Especially a world that lives almost entirely in the past. The kids in this story are arguably brilliant and fascinating. The fact, however, that they spend their lives memorizing stupid 80s trivia and researching every single Rush song ever written is just the most depressing thing ever. Where is their capacity for creativity? Why couldn't the competition be about pushing boundaries and finding solutions to problems? Why mire these beautiful minds and the energies of millions of people all over the world in the muck of whether or not Ladyhawke was a good movie? It was so so so so so depressing.

So. How do I balance the weird compulsion I had to listen listen listen until it was done with the disgust I felt for the world itself and the asinine 80s shit? I don't know. Part of me really appreciates what Cline was doing. But a large part of me just doesn't get it. Or want to all that much.

I'm so very confused.

Rating: 3.41

Liked: 3.5
Plot: 3
Characterization: 3.5
Writing: 3
Audio: 4

https://www.librarything.com/topic/172068#4728199 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 20, 2015 |
It is a good book. The end was pretty surprising. I had stayed up late reading this book, it was an addicting read. ( )
  YOUR_NAME_HERE | Jan 20, 2015 |
Well, I gave it a go, devoted an hour or two to trying to get into it, and it just didn't happen. The premise of the book is interesting, and even the details I picked up in my reading attempt, but the author describes everything like an IT tech telling a clueless computer user how to access the internet ... it just reads far too much like an instruction manual and (I don't know about you but) I always skip those when I can. ( )
  Xandylion | Jan 19, 2015 |
A reclusive software Gates/Woz/Jobs founder has created an online contest to distribute all of his wealth to the winner. The games, puzzles, and contests are all based on his ultra-nerdy upbringing, which just happened to revolve around 80s and 90s video games. The contest creates a world-wide obsession and provides a funny, rollicking nostalgia-fest for the reader. The depiction of the virtual world is both amazing and worrying - really, are we doomed to a VR headset-and-avatars future? I'm looking at you, Facebook.
  Clevermonkey | Jan 14, 2015 |
Excellent. So many geek references, and such strong characters. I was rooting for Wade/Parzival and his friends the whole time. Also--LISTEN to this book. It's read by Wil Wheaton, which is perfect. A few mispronounced Japanese words (which are part of geek culture, not obscure), but I can forgive that.
  LibraryGirl11 | Jan 10, 2015 |
The idea was a good one, and I enjoyed the references to the 80s, but the writing wasn't particularly profound - it reminded me of Peter Hamilton (two geeks who built a fortune as part of the back story) but not quite as well written. Still, a first novel and I may read more. ( )
  rlangston | Jan 10, 2015 |
The eighties were my playground, but I was not a gamer, nor American, so vast swathes of the nostalgia in Ready Player One was unhelpful to me, and the dystopian reality, for which I picked up the book, barely addressed (although I greatly enjoyed the section where the protagonist, Wade, is willingly indentured to the villainous corporation). Still, I have played a few point-and-click adventures and old arcade games, so I was able to 'play along' so to speak.

Still, even granting that I'm not the target audience, the I-did-this-then-that straightforward style of writing was a plod for me. I've read tons of YA fiction, finding most of it engaged my imagination, and a lot of it absolutely riveting, but Ernest Cline seemed to set the most unchallenging storytelling tone he could find and refused to find another gear no matter what was happening. Other reviewers have mentioned the cardboard cut-out characters, which is another flaw that bothered me, and the wish-fulfilment inherent throughout the entire novel was laid on thick.

It did have one strength that kept me reading until the end, however; the challenge set for Wade (or his avatar, Parzival), was interesting enough to follow and even get invested in. It didn't aspire to the heights of The Hunger Games or Ender's Game but the spirit of gaming did nevertheless abide within the pages. ( )
  eleanor_eader | Jan 4, 2015 |
For me this was basically a fun popcorn flick in novel form - light, entertaining, super fast-paced, but also not very deep and with a lot of moments that made me roll my eyes after I thought about them a bit. The plot was familiar, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing - it was comfortable, in the sense that the whole time I was reading I "knew" what was going to happen and all that was really in question was how exactly the author intended to get me there in the end. I've already recommended it to a couple people, and I'll be interested to see if (when) the movie adaptation is made - I think this story will be really well suited to that format!

I'm a sucker for the "game show/competition on a large scale" trope in novels (especially if the stakes are life and death, which in this case they are not - directly) and on that front it did not disappoint.

That said, don't pick this one up looking for anything deep or particularly meaningful. The characters are all pretty one-dimensional: there's the poorly-researched Japanese stereotype who misuses fanboy Japanese words like "seppuku," the low-income computer genius hacker savant with a little bit of baby fat he loses via time lapse exposition 60% through the novel, and of course, the sassy love interest who is not at ALL like those other female avatars around and is accessible and secretly insecure about a physical non-flaw (I was betting on something like a prosthesis or wheelchair use; it wound up being a birthmark).

The challenges the characters face don't hold up to fridge logic particularly well - for example, are we really supposed to believe that in five years nobody really thought to literally interpret the clue "you have much to learn" as a call to go scope out the level where all the school buildings are located? There aren't many surprises thrown into the formula used: character comes up from adversity, character makes a surprising discovery, character experiences setbacks and is joined by friends, someone dies tragically, characters vow vengeance, characters part ways and eventually must come together in the end, etc etc etc - with 80s trivia!

And this is petty, but I have to nitpick since gaming is my industry: I hope Ernest Cline has rethought his views on the holiness of freemium gaming - it's amusing that aside from the generic Evil Corporation Stuff perpetrated by the villains, their main flaw is that they want to make OASIS into a subscription gaming site (like World of warcraft and other similar currently-existing sites). This is presented as being somehow less democratic than the service's current incarnation as a "free" service where anyone can create an avatar, but the game is unusable and boring unless you pay to leave the starter levels and buy equipment. ( )
3 vote okrysmastree | Jan 2, 2015 |
g ( )
  tmiddleton | Jan 2, 2015 |
A breathlessly paced love-letter to the 80s and geek culture. I loved it! So much fun ... ( )
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
Back in the day I was a bit of a girl gamer. A 'tiny' bit. Ok, quite a lot actually but it was the 80's and I was a teen and geeks were cool back then and Summer lasted 10 months of the year...ok, some of that was probably made up but the rest is true.

As soon as I saw that Ready Player one was about game geeks with strong links to the 1980's I was all over it and from start to finish I couldn't put it down. It's fantastic. I don't know if it's because the 80's are my era and games are in my blood and but I suspect it would be just as epic a read for anyone who doesn't share my history. It's just fantastic. The story telling is spot on and there are so many twists and turns that it's hard to put down.

The 80's references are everywhere, since the whole idea of the contest in the book focuses on the 80's but the author has either done his homework very well or was in fact a geek boi himself. I'm guessing it's the latter and he probably still is. I'm still a big game geek at heart too. I'm a high 100 lvl warrior on a popular MMORPG which I've played for almost 6 years now and not ashamed to admit it...well, not here anyway :D

Although it's set in the future the story took me right back. The music references were like a trip down memory lane and the author has kindly compiled a mix tape for listening to alongside the book. Epic soundtrack!

Apart from all of that, I really, really liked the hero Parzival and cared about what happened to him. Total geek but that's the point of the book - they're all geeks. Even the non-geeks are geeks. Everyone plugs into the virtual reality known as the Oasis, it's the norm for just about everyone on the planet. Even Parzival's elderly neighbour plugs in for hours and hours on end so she can sit in the pews of her virtual church and sing hymns and listen to sermons. Business meetings take place in the Oasis where attendee's don't even leave thier own office/home if they don't want to, they just sign in to the Oasis, put on their virtual reality goggles and gloves and thier avatars do their business dealings in the comfort of virtual rooms/workplaces, with collegues who live on the other side of the planet. Kids don't go to school much, they just plug into the VR school's in the Oasis. Everything is done via the Oasis, even the very poor homeless people have access to free VR goggles and gloves so that they can hook up via free wireless and imerse themselves in a reality that's favourable to thier own. There's nothing that can't be done on the Oasis and nowhere that can't be visited.

I barely know where to start with this one. It's really hard to say much about it without ruining the plot. And the good bits that aren't about the plot are just too many to single out one or two to write about. It's all good. It's just...really, really good and I'd recommend it. It brought back to mind lots of things from my youth that I thought I'd forgotten and for that I'm grateful. Plus, I got a fantastic story to immerse myself in so all-in-all it was moeny well spent.

Ah, the 80's. It's like I never left :D

Back then we lived in a house by the beach and there was a permanant Carny just 10 minutes walk from us on the beachfront. Arcade games aplenty! Nothing could beat the thrill of seeing your own three initials on the scoreboard and achievments like that took a LOT of practice (and a lot of cash.) We spent a LOT of time huddled round those machines. Boys really seemed to sit up and take notice of you when you kick their butt and replace their initials with your own...

Happy days.

Oh, and one of my favourite games at the time, that I played in the privacy of my own room on my ZX Spectrum was....'My name is Uncle Groucho, you win a fat cigar'. Seriously. Catchy game name, huh?!

Don't laugh, the game's designer Mel Croucher went on to be better known for his later works Deus Ex Machina so he got a bit better with the game titles - and the gameplay.

Geek out!
( )
  SilverThistle | Dec 31, 2014 |
I had a hard time getting started; in hindsight, I see why. The author depicted, very accurately, the reason I dislike most point-and-click adventures - that period, usually right at the start, when you can't figure out how to get started. You've examined everything you can think of, looked all over, and nothing leads anywhere...I usually quit the game at that point, though of course I don't have a multi-billion-dollar reward waiting for me if I finish the game! Wade/Parzival has more of an incentive to break the deadlock than I've ever had. Interesting setting(s) - pre-apocalypse dystopia in the real world, infinite variety/action/knowledge/worlds in the virtual one (though money is still a major barrier).
Once Parzival gets a foothold, things get a lot more exciting, both in the story and for the reader. I was a teenager in the 80s; I recognize (the names of) a lot of what they're talking about, but I wasn't enough of a geek in the proper directions to know a quarter of the details Parzival and his friends can spout. Books yes, but books play a minor part here - movies and video games are far more important, and I've never been much of a movie fan. Still, even when I don't know the details, I don't feel lost - those bits that are actually important are explained in sufficient detail to carry the story. And the villain is nicely created - both the faceless corporation and the one who acts as its face have their own reasons for what they do, and are very good at justifying their actions, at least to themselves. The end is a trifle cheesy - after all that, "twu wuv" is the answer? Well, it's not like it isn't foreshadowed. And I liked the revelations about who was behind the avatars, just previous.
Only real problem I can see is - how is Cline going to write another novel? It would have to be utterly different and at least as good...tough job! ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Dec 28, 2014 |
it's kind of the perfect relaxer book. esspecially if you work in IT. Highly recommended. ( )
  jovemako | Dec 25, 2014 |
[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]

Okay, so this book is basically a young (male) geek’s ultimate dream — from the smart, down-on-his-luck orphan protagonist to the kickass gamer girl who’s really only there to be a love interest to the impossible quests the protagonist somehow keeps winning despite all odds. Premise-wise, there is very little about this book that strays outside of today’s common “boy hero” tropes, and if it wasn’t for the incredible world-building and downright zany plot, Ready Player One would have fallen flatter than a pancake for me.

As it stands, I found this a pretty fun (but sometimes tedious) read.

Firstly, you need to be aware that this book contains more pop culture references than any other book you will ever read in your life. Video games. TV. Movies. Anime. Books. You name it, it’s in this story — and all of it is focused on the 80s. So, if you were born later than that, prepare to be lost on many occasions when the story goes off on a tangent regarding some piece of 80s trivia you are completely unaware of. Don’t worry, though, because most of the time the nature of the trivia in question is explained in detail.

Which brings me to my biggest criticism of the book — I think it’s best I get this out of the way early: this story suffers from a horrific amount of info-dumping. In my opinion, an unacceptable amount of info-dumping. Dumping that goes on for pages and pages and pages, to the point where it’s often easy to lose track of what’s actually happening with the plot because said plot has come to a virtual standstill. There are info-dumps as filler, info-dumps in the middle of action scenes, info-dumps at pivotal moments. Info-dumps. Info-dumps. Info-dumps. Everywhere!

And every last one is an in-depth explanation about an element of 80s pop culture the average person has no desire to know.

You’ve been warned.

If that doesn’t throw you off attempting this book, though, then let’s move on.

Despite the info-dumpy nature of the narrative, it actually proves to be a fairly fun read as time goes on. The OASIS contains so many elements from so many shows, movies, books, anime, etc. all combined into one, massive world that you’ll have a hard time not smiling at the abundance of references strewn about as the plot progresses. Reading some of the battle scenes made my day — because, more often than not, the battles involved objects from a variety of fiction I was familiar with. Picturing such vastly different things being involved in the same fights amused me to no end.

The OASIS in this book is basically a simultaneous crossover of every single piece of fiction (across all mediums) ever created. It’s pretty fascinating. And makes for a great setting for the majority of the book.

The characters, on the other hand, were a little lacking in the originality department. I didn’t like how Art3mis ended up relegated to love interest more and more as the book went on. I didn’t like how shallow and underdeveloped most of the major characters were. The bad guys were the fairly generic “evil corporation” types often present in cyberpunk and other futuristic sci-fi; there wasn’t anything particularly special about Sorrento or his vast, anonymous army of Sixers.

That being said, however, I did think the main characters made for an interesting gang of heroes (even with their lack of development), and the final showdown against the antagonists is pretty spectacular (even with their generic nature).

Overall, I found this book a mixed bag — in the end, it was an enjoyable read, but there were a lot of parts (i.e., the info-dumps) I found tedious to get through, to the point where I occasionally ended up skimming a few passages here and there. The plot fulfills the premise in an unfortunately straightforward way and doesn’t deviate at all from some pretty tired tropes about boy heroes and rags-to-riches stories; despite this issue, though, it still builds a fairly interesting and engaging narrative. Lastly, the characters are lacking in a lot of ways, but, thanks largely to the amazing setting, are able to hold interest throughout the story.

A decent read, in my opinion, but nothing to write home about. ( )
  TherinKnite | Dec 11, 2014 |
This book at first was fantastic. I loved the eighties theme and the references were cool (in a geeky way). But the ending fizzled where I wanted it to entertain. It was a disappointment. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
The concept of the virtual reality contest is a good one. I didn't think the author would be able to make it intense because it is virtual reality, but he did well at raising the stakes. ( )
  SebastianHagelstein | Nov 30, 2014 |
This book is like reading an adaptation of Tron, meets Hackers, meets War Games, meets VH1's Pop Up Video. If you like the 1980s and/or Sci-Fi, this is the book for you!

In the future, the internet has become a completely Virtual Reality, interactive experience: you work, play, go to school (if you're lucky) online. And it's ll thanks to the genius of James Halliday. When Halliday passes away, he leaves a message and an Easter egg behind somewhere in the vastness of the internet, now dubbed the OASIS, and the one who finds it will inherit the rights to the whole shebang.

We follow the life and story of the avatar known as Parzival, real world name Wade. Parzival, or "Z", as his best friend calls him, is a poor senior who lives and breathes the world of the OASIS and the search for the Halliday Egg. He is what they call a Gunter, and the Gunters are trying desperately to find the egg before the evil corporation IOI and their "Sixers," thus dubbed for the 6-digit ID codes they are known by.

The sixers intend to turn the OASIS into a completely commercial place, while Halliday, the gunters, and specifically our hero want to keep it an open source place where, yes, money is important to improve your avatar and get where you're going in the OASIS, but it's not completely necessary to have an OASIS experience, as we see as we watch Z.

For me, the draw of this book was the references to really great music, movies and games of the 80s and 90s. Among the greats referenced were "War Games," "Firefly" (and it's movie counterpart "Serenity"), "Pac-Man," "Blade Runner," "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," and on, and on, and on... Plus, it goes pretty in depth into the history of Role Playing games in general, both online and book-based/table-top gaming.

It is a story from a teenagers point of view, so it deals with nerddom and the inherent inability to fit in that most Nerds/Geeks experience, and it does have the necessary love story of two nerds falling in love. The obvious Corporate Menace of IOI and the Sixers completes the formula to create a really great story. There are elements of dystopia, sci-fi, and fantasy (the entire internet is an RPG, how can you not have some fantasy going on?), complete with an aged wizard. It is a quest story that follows Campbell's archetypal Hero's journey, and it's just freaking awesome!

If I had to make any complaint, it would be the ending, which could have been stolen directly from one of the few movies that wasn't referenced: "Hackers." We come nearly to the end of the quest, and in order to defeat the evil Corporate menace, our hero and his group of barely legal young adults needs the help of the entire Gunter world. Had Art3mis (the love interest) suggested it, it would have almost been a direct match. I believe someone even uses the phrase "Gunter army" in the same way Angelina Jolie's character in "Hackers" refers to a "Hacker army." Also, it comes down to just one Gunter vs. the Sixers, and we watch his progress as all the hackers watched young Joey as he got close enough to complete the mission at the end of "Hackers." I did wonder, for only a brief moment, if that was why "Hackers" wasn't mentioned, so no one would make the connection.

Otherwise, it was a really good idea. Not sure it was totally original, but it was done in a really great way. Had me glued to the end. ( )
  LadyLiz | Nov 25, 2014 |
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