Monday, January 16, 2017

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Why am I just now reading this book? Why didn't I read this when it first came out? Why have the people who truly care about me not sat me down, put the book in my hands, and said "Read. Now." So yeah, we're only 15 days into the new year, but this is going to be a hard one to beat. Ready Player One has 2 things that I love dearly: the 80s and nerds. Really, I was born into the wrong decade, but somehow, a book that was written to take place in 2044 made me feel like I did...kinda. So yeah, if you haven't guessed my next statement, you don't know me very well. But here it is: Go read this book; even if you have already read it, read it again.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)

How to Play

The year: 2044. The setting: the OASIS, a virtual reality that has become pretty much the only way of life. The problem: James Halliday, a renowned video game designer has died and has left an Easter egg somewhere that will pass his entire life fortune to the player that can find it; but, this is not an easy task.

"'I couldn't playtest this particular game, so I worry that I may have hidden my Easter egg a little too well. Made it too difficult to reach. I'm not sure, If that's the case, it's too late to change anything now. So I guess we'll see....So without further ado,' Anorak announces, 'let the hunt for Halliday's Easter egg begin!' The he vanishes in a flash of light, leaving the view to gaze through the open doorway at the glittering mound of treasure that lay beyond. Then the screen fades to black." (pp.6-7)

It's been 5 years since Halliday died and no one has even found the first key, let alone has an idea about how to find it. Wade Watts, an 18 year old high school senior, has spent these last 5 years spending every moment gathering information about Halliday that could help him find the first key; he has watched all of Halliday's favorite movies (Blade Runner, Ferris Bueller, WarGames, and other 80s classics), classic 80s TV shows (mostly Family Ties), listening to 80s music (Def Leppard, Rush, etc), and pretty much every single video game Halliday played, mentioned, or created. Sadly, at this point, him and the other gunters (egg hunters) have made no progress and are up against the sixers (the evil people) in trying to figure everything out.

(Source: Giphy)
And then one day, Wade, while sitting in his VR Latin class, figures out the first clue. The second class is over, he makes a plan, and heads to where he thinks the first key is. And he is right! After playing an extreme game of Joust against Acererak, Parzival (Wade's avatar) becomes the first person, gunter or sixer, to get the Copper Key and the clue to find the first gate. But before Parzival can make his way to the first gate, he runs into Art3mis, a female avatar that Wade has been seriously crushing on for the last 3 years, even though he is fully aware that "she" could actually be a 50-year-old 300 pound dude and not the petite attractive avatar he knows. After a brief confrontation, they discuss how they each found the cave, and Art3mis tells Parzival that she has yet to win at Joust. Parzival lies and says he lost as well, and then the Score Board announces the truth.

(Source: Google Image)
Now there's a mad dash between the High 5, the first 5 gunters to attain the key and make it through the gate, and the sixers, who are lead by Sorrento, head creep and bad guy. The sixers will use everything they can, including explosives, stalking, and hit men to take out the real life people and not just their avatars. Only if and when the High 5 and the rest of the gunters band together can the sixers and Sorrento be taken down. But in the world of virtual reality, it's easier when it's every man and woman for themselves.

Gunters Just Want to Have Fun
  • Anyone who loves the 80s will love this book. Halliday's funeral is like a John Hughes movie on steroids, and is now what I will be requiring when I die.
"Careful analysis of this scene reveals that all of the teenagers behind Halliday are actually extras from various John Hughes teen films who have been digitally cut-and-pasted into the video."

"His surroundings are actually from a scene in the 1989 film Heathers. Halliday appears to have digitally re-created the funeral parlor set and then inserted himself into it."

"The mourners are actually all actors and extras from the same funeral scene in Heathers. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater are clearly visible in the audience, sitting near the back." (p. 3 footnotes)

(Source: Giphy)
  • The WarGames scene from the first gate is easily one of my most favorite scenes in the book, mostly because it's one of my favorite movies.
  • I really want to attend Ogden Morrow's 80s theme dance party. 
"Entering the Distracted Globe was more than a little disorienting. The inside of the giant sphere was completely hollow, and its curved interior surface served as the club's bar and lounge area. The moment you passed through the entrance, the laws of gravity changed...In the middle of all the dancers, a large clear bubble was suspended in space, at the absolute center of the club. This was the "booth" where the DJ stood, surrounded by turntables, mixers, decks, and dials. At the center of all that gear was the opening DJ, R2-D2, hard at work, using his various robotic arms to work the turntables. I recognized the tune he was playing: the '88 remix of New Order's "Blue Monday," with a lot of Star Wars droid sound samples mixed in." (p. 183)
  • I was really worried that Aech was actually one of the bad guys and was just using Parzival to advance the sixers. So when it happened that "he" was really an African American woman, I was very happy that I was wrong in that regard.
"A heavyset African American girl sat in the RV's driver seat, clutching the wheel tightly and staring straight ahead....I stood there for a moment, staring at her in silence, waiting for her to acknowledge my presence. Eventually, she turned and smiled at me, and it was a smile I recognized immediately. That Cheshire grin I'd seen thousands of times before, on the face of Aech's avatar...the young woman sitting in front of me was my best friend, Aech." (p. 318)

  • And, to make all of this better, the nerds find love.
(Source: Giphy)
I am so glad that I read this book, and I would suggest it to everyone! It's got a little something for everyone: dystopia, video games, the 80s, witty banter, thought provoking puzzles, love, a little bit of mystery. Earnest Cline is a brilliant author, and I look forward to reading other works of his, which is why I have already added Armada to my "I need to read this ASAFP" list.

Rating: 10/10
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy

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