If you’re a geek of a certain age, you’ll eat Earnest Cline’s Ready Player One with a spoon. Packed to the gills with 80’s references and homages, the novel feels like a printed version of the geeky reference series Spaced.
But geeky homages do not a good novel make. And the good news is that Cline delivers the good in his debut effort.
In the world of the near future, the recession has never ended and the gap between the haves and the have-nots has only grown into a deep chasm. Much of the population seeks refuge in OASIS, a virtual reality MMO that has replaced the Internet. Its creator, James Halliday, passed away years before, leaving his virtual kingdom and real-world wealth to the player who can uncover a series of Easter Eggs within the OASIS program, who call themselves gunters. Gunters are devoted followers of Halliday, reading everything he wrote, studying his life, playing the games he loved and watching the shows and movies he loved and referenced in his journals. Gunters are trying to find the elusive first puzzle to begin the quest and racing against not only each other but an evil corporation that wants to find the eggs and inherit the rights to OASIS so they can begin charging people for its use.
Enter into this Wade Watts, a gunter on the cusp of high school graduation who pieces together where the first egg might be hidden. His discovery sets off a world-wide competition to find the egg and a race against time to keep the evil corporation from finding the final clue and winning the day.
Any book that can make Joust, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and War Games pivotal to its ending wins high marks in my book. Add in that the book is as addictive as many of the old-school video games Wade plays to try and understand Halliday.
I’ve read that the screen rights for this one have already been picked by Warner Brothers. And while it would be fun to see everything that Cline lays out here depicted on-screen, I have to imagine the sheer amount of money involved in getting the rights to every property referenced in this novel will be staggering and probably beyond the movie’s budget. So, do yourself a favor and pick this one up and read it before it heads to the silver screen. This is one of the most highly entertaining, fun reads I’ve had all year.