Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Reviewed by Justin Hanvey
QUICK HIT — Set in a far and dystopian future, Ready Player One is a fun romp into 80s nostalgia and a virtual world where dreams can come true and your imagination can run wild. It’s a fun story, not very deep, but worth the read despite.
Wade Watts is a boy with little future at the beginning of the story. He’s seeking an easter egg left by the developer of a vast virtual world called The Oasis. He spends most of his time in this world as the avatar Parzival, accompanied by his best friend Aech and others called ‘gunters’ who are seeking the easter egg as well. The developer, a child of the 80s, is obsessed with everything from that culture — from Duran Duran to Dungeons and Dragons, Ladyhawke to Ferris Bueller’s Day off and Monty Python’s Grail. The people playing within the game are able to bring their own cultural influences as well, so there are Firefly class ships, Star Trek references, lightsabers, and so on, but the book itself is primarily celebrating the 80s. Wade finally catches a break when he finds the first key, and the whole world is set on fire as others follow suit and everyone races to find the egg. Some seek it for power, some for fortune and some even for escape. Escapism itself seems to become a theme of this story and our protagonists learn the simple value of going outside like most stories of this kind.
There’s not much unexplored here. I was reminded of Tad Williams’ Otherworld and my favourite online role-playing games, but the lack of depth does not mean it’s not a good story. There’s adventure, fun, and pop culture references aplenty. It’s a very fast read, too; I finished it in about a night and day. Engrossing for every page. At the end you don’t feel like you’ve wasted time and you have the same feeling as if you’d just watched a fun summer blockbuster of epic proportions. Highly enjoyable and worth reading, especially if you can catch all the 80s references.
There’s a movie coming soon, and I’ll be interested to see if they can pull it off. All in all, a highly recommended story.
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