{September 20, 2011}   Ready Player One

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

As mentioned in my previous post, Ernest Cline is the genius behind the movie Fanboys, a movie that quickly became a cult classic. Cline has long been one of the basement-dwelling, light-fearing group known as nerds, and this book, Cline’s first novel, pulls together what feels like every 80s geek reference imaginable. I envision Cline at his super computer, laughing like a maniac every few paragraphs as he embeds some other sneaky piece of trivia.

Ready Player One takes place in a world that sometimes feels not far removed from our own. The recession, the one we feel today, has turned into The Great Recession. Cars are abandoned because no one can afford the price of fuel. Trailer parks, instead of sprawling over acres of land, are built upward, with one RV parked on top of another. Hardly anyone conducts their affairs in the real world; instead, nearly all humanity spends their time in the OASIS (the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), the world’s biggest MMO ever. With hundreds of thousands of virtual worlds to explore, who would want to spend any time at all in the sad, bleak reality?

When the creator of the OASIS dies, a massive hunt begins to find the Easter Egg that Halliday, the creator, hid somewhere in the OASIS. Whoever finds the egg first becomes heir to Halliday’s entire fortune. The egg is hidden behind fiendishly hard clues and three gates, requiring that the egg hunter know obscure 80s TV shows, movies, music, and video games in order to decipher the riddles and pass through each gate. This is where all of the nerdiness comes in. Wade Watts, our hero for the story and an avowed egg hunter (or “gunter”), knows almost everything there is to know about the 1980s and Halliday’s favorite games and shows. Games like Adventure, Joust, Pac-Man, shows like Family Ties, G.I. Joe. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of anything and everything you remember from the 80s.

Watts is an endearing narrator, and the world of the OASIS vivid and imaginative. Reading this made me want an immersive MMO like OASIS to play and run around in. (I guess I’ll just have to deal with World of Warcraft for now.) I will admit, though, that I had a difficult time getting into the book in the beginning. It didn’t manage to capture my attention for very long in the first thirty or so pages, and I picked it up and put it down several times because I made the commitment to sit down and actually stay there. Once I did that, I couldn’t put it down. The writing style is reminiscent of a diary writer who feels the need to record almost every detail of a day, but once you get into it, you don’t notice it as much. The story is compelling and not predictable. Though I definitely didn’t catch every reference or know every game, I knew enough to thoroughly enjoy the story.

And if all that isn’t enough, the audio book is apparently read by Wil Wheaton. It is SO on my holds list at the library, even though I’ve already read it.

My recommendation: if you’re a geeky person, pick up the book sometime soon and give it a read. It’s a fun book, and I’ll bet you anything it’s made into a movie in a few years.

Crown Publishers, August 2011, hardcover, 374 pages. Buy the book here.

{September 2, 2011}   Quick update

If you’re an ardent follower of this blog, you may have noticed that I (just now, about fifteen seconds ago) updated the Books page. It now reflects the truth: I won’t be reviewing L. A. Mental in August and there are a few books that will come between now and that book. The reason for it is this: L. A. Mental isn’t set to publish until October, so I’d rather review it at the end of September, beginning of October, to coincide with all the other nice publicity things for the book. In the interim, I have Ready Player One, recently published late last month, and Remembering the Music, Forgetting the Words, a memoir about Alzheimer’s, a subject close to my heart, that will drop early next week.

I’m particularly excited for Ready Player One because of two things: 1- it’s going to be a total nerd book and 2- it’s written by the same guy who did Fanboys. Yep, that awesome movie about those Star Wars fans who road trip to sneak into Skywalker Ranch to steal Episode I before it’s released publicly. Great movie. Have I mentioned I’m a nerd? Good. So this book should be pretty fun. Early reviews said that references to all things geeky are all over the place in there, so I can’t wait.

The change in review line-up also happened because while cruising the library today, I found Ready Player One on the Express shelf. (That’s this place where, in my library, you can check out a book for three weeks but can’t renew it.) Turned out to be handy for me, because I was hold 6 of 11 on the non-Express copy of the book. So now I have it, sitting right here next to me, and I’ll be able to get a review out faster than I thought. Hurray! Keep your eyes open.

et cetera