The world sucks. It’s 2044 and the Great Recession has been grinding the world’s economy to dust for generations. The environment has gone completely out of whack and there’s not enough energy to go around. The world is dirty, violent, crowded, and sick. So it’s no wonder that most of the world escapes into the OASIS, a virtual reality MMO where you can do anything and be anyone. But for Wade Watts, the OASIS is much more than an escape from his humdrum life. He’s a “gunter”, or “egg hunter”, searching through the detritus of 1980s-era pop culture for the elusive Easter egg hidden by the OASIS’ designer, James Halliday. And, according to Halliday’s last will and testament, whoever finds the egg wins it all–control of a multibillion dollar fortune and of the OASIS itself. With an entire universe on the line, will Wade find the Egg first–or will the competition be too great–and too deadly–to beat?
Ready Player One is Ernest Cline’s (Fanboys) elaborate love-song to geek culture. It is essentially a standard–almost cliched–quest story with a loving slather of 1980s nostalgia and geeky fan service. What saves the novel from being contrived and painful is Cline’s breakneck pacing and obvious sense of infectious fun. You can’t help but smile as you frantically turn pages and try to spot all of the references that crop up in each chapter. This isn’t The Matrix with a ponderous sense of self-importance and messianic fervor–this is a John Hughes science fiction movie; humorous, heartfelt, and fun.
If you were alive during the 1980s–or know someone who was–try this book. You’ll be grinning ear to ear within twenty pages, guaranteed.