If you like: the 80s * gaming * adventures
In Ready Player One, Wade, a high school student nearing graduation, attempts to unravel a series of clues in order to solve a massive Easter egg hunt and inherit the massive fortune of the creator of the virtual reality community OASIS. After inventor James Halliday died, he revealed that the massive multiplayer online game (now a globally networked multi-function virtual reality existence) contained a series of challenges, the first individual to complete them would become his sole heir. The clues rely heavily on Halliday’s love of the 80s, and take years to be unraveled by the egg hunters-or gunters as they are known in the community. Wade is the first gunter to locate an egg, and he must survive both virtual and physical threats in order to complete the challenge.
Being a gaming enthusiast is not a prerequisite for reading Ready Player One. If anything, knowledge of 80s trivia is much more important to following the story. If you haven’t seen War Games, or aren’t familiar with John Hughes, you will miss more than if you haven’t played Atari’s Adventure. As in many other adventure stories, Wade must use critical thinking and cleverly leverage friendships he has made with other gunters in order to succeed. The addition of evil corporate gunters fits logically into the story, and the very nature of the virtual world makes them extremely dangerous. Their ability to manipulate the game through unlimited resources and unscrupulous methods makes them a challenging foe. The virtual world also provides an illusion of physical security that is shattered early on.
Ready Player One is an extremely fun read. The cleverly developed Easter eggs are very entertaining. Though Wade is most comfortable in the virtual world, he learns throughout the story that some relationships are worth having in the physical world. No number of sensors and machines can replace physical contact with a friend. Quirky trivia is also a huge part of this story. Paying attention to minor details really pays off. Even if something seems irrelevant, it can prove to be immensely beneficial later on. Cline doesn’t let the fun get in the way of a good story. The challenges are real and the choices that Wade makes are difficult. He often has to choose between doing what is right and what is easy. Friends are lost, both in the game and in the real world.
If you are looking for adventure at the push of a button, read Ready Player One.
Ernest Cline. Ready Player One. New York: Random House, Inc., 2011. Kindle Edition.