Book Review by Aarene Storms: Ready Player One

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The year is 2044 and 18-year-old Wade Watts, like almost everyone else in the world, regularly escapes from grim reality to spend most of his waking time in OASIS, the online community that has grown up from early beginnings as a network of online video simulation games.

Wade is a "gunter", a game player dedicated to locating the elusive "Easter Egg" hidden somewhere in the nearly-infinite OASIS. The creator of OASIS was obsessed with the pop culture of the 1980's, and left hundreds of clues for gunters hidden within 1980's movies, books, music, television shows and even commercials The first to find the Egg will inherit a fortune in cash and controlling interest in the OASIS. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous bad guys who don't mind cheating -- or even killing -- to win the Egg.

Anyone who has ever gotten immersed in a book, a movie, a video game, or a face-to-face session of Dungeons and Dragons will relate to Wade's experience in OASIS. Anyone who can recite the entire script of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, knows every line ever spoken on Star Trek (original series and/or any of the prequel/sequel/spin-off series), played PacMan or Joust for uncounted hours, or who ever rolled for damage to an imaginary monster will revel in the retro-geekiness of the narrative. Anyone who wants a fun, action-filled dystopian adventure is advised to hide this book from family members who might grab it for themselves and demand a roll of the dice to determine ownership (as happened to this reviewer).

Comic book violence and some off-stage "real world" violence, cussing, and two paragraphs of non-graphic virtual sex with an ultimately unsatisfactory anatomically-correct haptic doll, plus some awesome friendships and a sweet romance. 

Highly recommended for readers ages 14 to adult, maybe especially for adults who were teens in the 1980's...but since this book was given to me by a 16-year-old boy, I must recommend it also for those who weren't even a naughty notion in the 1980's.
The events may not have happened; still, the story is true. --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach Library, KCLS


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