Monday, September 26, 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I loved Ready Player One. It is one of the best and most original books I've read this year.

Set in 2044, the United States is a mess. Almost everyone prefers to live inside the OASIS, a virtual world, rather than in the terrible real world. When he dies, one of the two creators of the OASIS (kind of like I imagine Bill Gates might have turned out if he'd never married) leaves his fortune to the person who solves the puzzles he has left hidden inside the OASIS. Everyone with an avatar in the OASIS dreams of solving the puzzles. So does a big corporation, which wants to start charging for access to the OASIS, among other changes.

The narrator, an orphaned teen-ager who lives in his aunt's trailer along with 15 other people and who attends high school in the OASIS, manages to find the first clue, and the race to win the fortune is on. As his avatar Parzival, he meets virtual friends inside the OASIS in hopes that one of them can save the OASIS for everyone from the sinister corporation.

Ready Player One is filled with pop culture references from the 80s and from classic science fiction and fantasy. Although I didn't get all of the references, I got plenty, and certainly enough to make the book enjoyable. The main character is interesting, and so are his friends. Although the future world is a mess, unlike so much distopian fiction, the book is not gloomy, despairing and depressing. It's a wild ride that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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