A long, long time ago, not long after this book came out, one of my good friends read Ready Player One and loved it. She told me about all the 80s references and the great story, and how it was one of her all-time favorite books. But she also mentioned how a lot of the references were over her head, because we are all children of the 90s. And that completely killed it for me. While it stayed on my radar because she had loved it so much, it never got further than that. I just wasn't interest.
Fast forward to several months ago. My company keeps a "Leave a book, Take a book" mini-library in the cafe. I check it out every time I'm waiting for my daily gruel to microwave. One day, a hardcover of Ready Player One appears. I grab it. R loved it, and now here it is, beckoning me to read it, a sign to stop neglecting it! I bring it back to my cube and stick it on my shelf. One of my coworkers, J, comes up a few days later, and immediately gushes that I was lucky to grab it, that he wasn't quick enough and missed out. I gave it to him. I wasn't going to be reading it anytime soon, I only grabbed it because it appeared and I had already been thinking about it.
He brings in a paperback copy a few days later and gives it to me. Tells me it's one of his all-time favorite books and I NEEED to read it. I tell him my qualms about all the over-my-head 80s references, and he said not to worry about it because he gave it to his young son, who also devoured it. Ok, I say, I'll take the paperback.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I finish my book on the train in the morning, on my way in to work. It was Little Brother. It was amazing, one of my all-time favorite books. I am depressed because I've had several amazing books in a row, and now I've no idea what to read next and I am going to be bored out of my mind on the commute home. So I start raiding my file cabinets, looking through the books I lent to people and never brought home and the books other people have lent to me. I see Ready Player One. I pick it up on a whim (I've had it for several months now, maybe I should just read a few pages) and I start reading. I am in love with it by the time I am finished the 5-page introduction.
So let this serve as a warning to YOU ALL that this book is amazing and don't let something someone may have said to you about all the references turn you away. This is one seriously amazing book. I even created a new word for it, and I'm pretty in love with it because it describes the book so perfectly:
This book is a cross between The Matrix and National Treasure. It has amazing characters who you cheer for the entire time and they're smart and witty and they are normal people doing extraordinary things. The references are mostly from the 80s, but I recognized more than I thought I would, and even the ones I didn't know didn't bother me because Ernie Cline wove them so seamlessly into the narrative. Seriously, this is now one of MY favorite books of all time. I would have read it a second time, except I went out for coffee with another friend right after finishing it, and I was talking about it the whole night that she didn't let me go home with it again. I gave it to her, and she is loving it. This is just one of those books that deserves every good thing said about it, and it's really a shame that it isn't mainstream enough for it to become the next Gone Girl. I was seriously slow to get to this book, and it really makes me cringe when I think about how easy it would have been for me to never pick it up.
Do I need to give you an actual summary of the book? It takes place in a bleak (but interesting) future, and the internet has become synonymous with life, controlling pretty much everything. You go to school in the Oasis, shop, play games, everything. There are planets you can go to that are exact replicas of the Death Star and Serenity and you can investigate them. It's a cross between an MMORPG and RL. The creator of the Oasis dies without an heir to the company, and creates an Easter Egg hidden somewhere in the Oasis, and a series of complex clues to find it. Whoever finds the Easter Egg gets the company, and the competition is intense. Wade Watts is just a chubby poor kid from the stacks with no money and nothing going for him, and yet he starts kicking ass. Seriously, even if this description doesn't sound good to you, like it's too obscure or you don't think you'll be into the video game aspect of the story, give it a shot anyway. Just go read the introduction and see if you fall in love with it as quickly as I did.
You know you are reading a great book when you don't want it to end more than you want to know the end. But you finish it anyway, because how can you stop reading such a good book?
Here's the official description from BN anyway: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.
Are you ready? ( BN | GR )
Even with how amazing Graceling and Little Brother were and the other great books I've read this year, Ready Player One tops them all. If I find another book that is better than this one, I am a very lucky girl. Seriously folks, you have to read this book.