When READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline was published last year, I was intrigued by all the recommendations. The novel revolves around 1980s video games and pop culture, and it takes place mostly inside a virtual world.
I definitely fall into the target audience for this book. I grew up in the 80s playing ColecoVision and Nintendo. On at least one occasion, I held my birthday party at an arcade. Today I devote hours each week to completing quests in Skyrim.
So I'd been planning to read the book eventually, but the reason I got around to it now is that my mother raved about it. This surprised me. In all the afternoons my brother and I spent playing Super Mario Bros., I can't recall Mom ever picking up a controller. If my non-gaming mom liked this game-obsessed book, I had to check it out for myself. I mean, I wasn't going to let her out-geek me!
The story takes place in the 2040s. Things aren't looking so good in the real world, which is plagued with poverty, energy shortages, and war. Fortunately, technology has progressed to the point that everyone has constant access to an immersive virtual world called the OASIS. Compared to reality, the OASIS is a utopia.
When the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a message that his vast fortune will be awarded to whoever can find the easter egg he's left hidden somewhere within the game. The book's protagonist is a teen boy determined to solve the puzzle, which involves learning everything he can about the creator's 80s childhood and the video games, movies, and music he loved. The obssesive quest for the egg turns into a thrilling and dangerous adventure both inside and out of the OASIS.
READY PLAYER ONE kept me up too late reading for several nights. It's an exciting adventure with great world-building and tons of nostalgia. The story does occasionally suffer from long stretches of exposition and unnecessary repetition, but overall it's a lot of fun. I enjoyed recognizing the 80s references, but there were many I wasn't familiar with, and it's not necessary to know much about video games to appreciate the book, as my mother can attest.
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→ Rob D. Young offers 9 Tricks to Make Your Dialogue More Organic: "Regardless of what's being discussed, it's entirely normal for participants in a conversation to maintain multiple threads of dialogue. They can simultaneously be talking about the meaning of the life, what they had for lunch on Tuesday, and how stressed they are about homework--and none of this is seen as a contradiction."