October Reader's Den: "Ready Player One" Week 2
If you haven't heard of Ernest Cline, you may have seen his 2009 movie Fanboys. Fanboys is about four Star Wars-obsessed friends who travel cross-country with their dying friend to sneak into Skywalker Ranch to see the movie Episode I: Phantom Menace before its official release. If you liked that movie you will love this book about '80s pop culture, but even if you haven't (see it! It's cute) you will still love this book.
I have to first preface this by saying that I was born in the late 1970s, so I grew up in the heyday of the culture this book talks about and can still remember many of the games, TV shows, and movies vividly. One of my favorite scenes mentions the old arcade chain Aladdin's Castle which reminded me of being a little kid going to the mall for a birthday party, or going there with my brother to play Galaga, Space Invaders, or Joust. If you are an '80s child you may find many such moments throughout the book. I even discovered things I had forgotten about such as the video games Black Tiger and Dungeons of Daggorath, and it was awesome to rediscover them through this book. I had never even known about the game Zork until reading about it.
Ready Player One is set in the year 2044 in a dystopian future where the real world has basically gone down the tubes with out of control unemployment (imagine being put on a two year waiting list for fast food restaurants) and resources drying up. The majority of people spend time in the virtual world of the OASIS. In the OASIS, one can go anywhere, be anything, and get anything one wants. The one prize everyone wants is the Easter egg created by Oasis's creator James Halliday that gives ownership of the Oasis to whoever finds it. Needless to say these egg hunters, Gunters for regular people; Sixers for Corporate, search endlessly for the first clue.
This is the world of the protagonist Wade Watts and it just so happens that he discovers the first clue, which begins his quest through the pop culture of the '80s and through worlds that include the movies WarGames and Blade Runner, the modules of Dungeons and Dragons, and the game Pac Man. It's an incredibly fun ride that I encourage all to share and enjoy.
Even if you are not a fan of 1980s pop culture, it is a really fast read (it only took me three days to finish it) and the universe of Wade Watts is just as fascinating. The author doesn't skip on the details of his universe and makes the OASIS almost another main character with Wade. The Quest is really fun and I couldn't wait to see what happened next for Wade. I can say that I wish it had a less theatrical ending but getting there was so fun and interesting I really didn't mind it. See you all next week for part three in the Reader's Den.
- "A Future Wrapped in 1980's Culture", The New York Times Books
- "One on One: Ernest Cline, 'Author of Ready Player One'", The New York Times Bits
- "Read This Book: Ready Player One", IGN.com
- "Book Review: Ready Player One", Geek.com
- "'Ready Player One': A Silver DeLorean reaches '80s 'Matrix'", Los Angeles Times Hero Complex