Another audio book down! This time it’s Ready Player One by Earnest Cline.
The year is 2044 and the world has not fared well. A global recession has struck and poverty is rampant with all resources scarce. The protagonist of this story is an 18 year old named Wade Watts who has fared worse than most. Wade lives in abject poverty with his abusive aunt who simply keeps him around for extra food vouchers. Wade has one escape – the OASIS. The OASIS started as a massively online multiplayer game, but has become all things in this dystopia. He goes to school there, works there, and plays there.
Yet the OASIS has no leader. It’s creator, an unbelievably rich and reclusive programmer, James Halliday has died and left an easter egg in this world of the OASIS. The person who finds it gets control of the OASIS, and all his worldly goods – a sum of billions of dollars. Wade becomes a ‘gunter (egg hunter) in his spare time. Hunting down the egg has gone on for years with little progress. It requires the collecting of 3 keys – and each key is hidden and protected with challenges. Halliday’s only hints lay in his obsession with all things 80’s: movies, D&D, music, styles and most importantly, their games.
While the independent Gunters are searching for the egg, so are the Sixers – a group of corporate lackeys – that are out to get the egg for themselves and change the utopian free OASIS into a commercial vehicle. So the race is on. Will Wade (Parzival as his avatar is known), along with fellow hunters Aech and Art3mis beat the Sixers and win the most amazing game prize ever?
This was one of the most enjoyable reads I’d had in a long time. I was apprehensive when I read that it was a book about 80’s culture and games. Often times the well-meaning author butchers or panders the topic. But not so with this book Every great 80’s reference to classic cult/nerd content is there: Dungeons and Dragons, movies such as Wargames and The Quest for the Holy Grail, classic video games such as pac-man, and joust, and music and pop-icons such as Max Headroom and the Cap’n Crunch hacker – as well as more modern advancements such as massively multiplayer online games. All the greats are in there in all their shining glory.
Best of all, Earnest Cline was clearly a lover and know-er of all these as well – his descriptions and treatment of each piece of history is accurate and spoken of with the same reverence as I knew and loved them. As a nerdy child of the 80’s, I loved this trip through memory lane – and it’s clear Cline was just as much a lover. I found myself knowing and able to play along as Wade walked through the challenges and puzzles. I too had run the D&D dungeon The Tomb of Horrors, had played through some of the PC-based games he mentions – although I was not a very good master of classic arcade games. Still, watching the young Wade and others of his generation learn to fall in love with the awesomeness of the 80’s was like falling in love again myself. It made me want to whip out my old D&D set, pull out my Tandy coco and play Dungeons of Daggorath (which I DO have a copy of and a working Tandy!), and all the other great games and adventures I had as a kid. It re-vitalized and reminded me of why I got into computers all those years ago.
I give this book a solid A. Sure, it’s not a heady examination of the deeper things of life nor Pulitzer-quality writing – but it’s an absolutely romp if you were a child (and especially a nerdy child) of the 80’s. I found myself sitting in the car long after I’d got home and listening to ‘just one more chapter’. I haven’t always had that recently – and it was a great pleasure to have that much fun with a book again.
Highly recommend for the child of the 80’s