A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{June 6, 2014}   Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready_Player_One_coverPlot: Wade Watts lives in a near future where people spend a large part of their lives in a virtual world known as the OASIS. When James Halliday, the creator of this world, died very rich and without an heir, he planted and Easter Egg within the game. The person who finds the three keys and unlocks the three gates will receive all his riches. Wade, known as Parzival online, is a gunter – a serious hunter for the Easter Egg – has spent years studying Halliday and his interest in order to  find the egg. But he isn’t alone. A large corporation has put significant resources into finding the egg so that they can monetize the OASIS and restrict the free access that people have thus far enjoyed.

This review is based on the audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton.

This novel is a love letter to the 80s. James Halliday was a recluse and a geek: he loved video games (especially the coin operated arcade games, dungeons and dragons, science fiction and fantasy, 80s movies and music. His quest for the egg requires the gunters to have intimate knowledge of all these subjects. The book is thus full of references to Joust and Zork and War Games. For those of us who lived through and loved these times it is a special treat. But more than simple nostalgia, Cline made me want to play the game. I struggled to figure out the clues and solve the puzzle alongside the characters… though I sadly do not have the time to memorize all the movies and trivia and master all the games as the gunters do.

This is also a very relevant book at the moment, as the issue of net neutrality is being debated in the states. IOI, the corporation trying to steal victory from the gunters, want to control the novel’s incarnation of the Internet, restrict access, charge for everything. And they’re willing to cheat and kill to do it. This adds a touch of urgency and danger to the narrative.

Meanwhile the characters are great: Parzival, Art3mis, H and Shoto are people I could imagine being friends with. And Cline does not stick to easy stereotypes of hardcore gamers, a fact for which I am endlessly grateful.

I was heartbroken to learn that this is is currently Cline’s only published novel (though there is another in the works!). I loved this book, for the nostalgia, for its cleverness, for Cline great writing and for the sheer nerdiness of it. Give this book to all the children of the 80s, to all the video games geeks and to everyone who enjoys seeing a huge, heartless corporation get theirs.

2014 (#20)


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