Ready Player One- Willy Wonka for the internet age

I’m not sure where the summer has gone. I was happily meeting my goal to post at least once per week and then summer time social craziness happened and here we are in the middle of August. At least the time has been spent creating memories and having a few some adventures.

My boyfriend is once again to be thanked for introducing me to another addicting book although this time he did so with an innocent smile and a glib “want to be hooked on another book?” as he connected his phone to my car stereo and hit play on the audiobook for our camping trip drive up the mountain. 4 hours audio plot twist left me bereft and in withdrawal until I broke down and bought the kindle version. No patience to be 105 out of 105 holds at the public library this go around!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is a bundle of nostalgia and geekiness for me. 80’s culture, a Willy Wonka- esque story line (many memories of my mom reading that story to me and my brother when we were younger) and a glimpse of the internet future with all its cultural pros and cons. And did I mention geekiness galore!? You should already want to read this book.

But if you need additional convincing/facts/ clues to the location of the holy grail, then read on, my friend! Ready Player One is the story of an eccentric, reclusive brilliant gaming nerd (Halliday) who dies with no heirs, 240 billion dollars and controlling stock in the company he help found. He creates an egg hunt (in reference and homage to the “Easter eggs” hidden in several Atari games) which invites every member of the Oasis (more on that shortly) to search for 3 keys and 3 gates hidden within the Oasis which will lead to the egg, the fortune and control of the company.

Halliday helped create what is known as the Oasis- a massive, multiplayer online simulation game where members sign up for 25 cents, buy a set of haptic gloves and a visor that allows interaction with the environment and away they go. Members create an avatar -aka- who every they wish they were but aren’t in real life (male, female, tall, short, beautiful, ugly, human, non-human) and interaction with the Oasis worlds (Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Firefly, Tolkien, Harry Potter, the plants of our solar systems; you get the idea. Why can’t the Oasis exists??) through their avatars including pvp combat, treasure hunting, social platforms, shopping and other nefarious or adult behaviors to name a few.

The Oasis was launched during a time in world history where real life is grim- a 2-year wait list for a job in fast food kind of grim, and many people live their entire lives on the Oasis including finding employment in various positions associated with and within the Oasis. A generation of children are raised by the Oasis similar to what we have experienced with the TV and internet ages of the past and present. **Side note, the book raises an interesting social conversation topic- given what has already been seen with the gaming world and people willing to live most of their lives in virtual fantasy worlds online, is the advance of technology towards an Oasis to be met with excitement or concern?**end side note.

The novel follows the path of one avatar- Wade Owen Watts- aka Parzival as he quest to find solve “the Hunt” as it becomes known. He is 17, poor and has a low level avatar = seemingly no resources to undertake/solve a quest that has baffled people for 5 years after Halliday’s death and the launch of the challenge. Whole clans and corporations have formed to find the first key to no avail but where there is a will, there is a way…

OK cheesey line but this is one story where I actually don’t want to give away any spoilers. If you are into gaming, 80’s culture, geekiness, like the thought of playing in a simulation world, loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or just plain want something epic, adventurous and entertaining to read, then add Ready Player One to your list. Or if audio books are your thing, the book is narrated by the dreamy, uber-nerd Wil Wheaton… you’re welcome.

Warner Bros has bought the rights to movie version with Spielberg slated to direct. Please don’t let them screw this up! I can’t live with another Starship Troopers situation- a beautifully tragic morality tale of sacrifice, war, responsibility and politics that Hollywood bastardized into a gimmicky POS with sequels!! My soul still hurts a little. 😦 And if I have made this reference before in another post, then you understand how deep the hurt goes.

Oh, and if you think I am over-exaggerating the 80’s culture reference, check out this wikia page for a list….

Coming Soon- Carsick or the fiction/non-fiction crazy combo novel by John Waters which may have scarred me for life.

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