I picked up Ready Player One on a whim. The movie had been out recently and I felt like I had to read the book before watching it. Our teenage protagonist Wade Watts lives in the dystopian future world of the 2040s. The world is afflicted with global warming, poverty and economic decline. Folks are living in stacks, tens of trailer homes piled on each other. Most people, including Watts, spend their waking hours living life as avatars in a virtual reality multi-player world called OASIS. James Halliday, the benevolent creator of OASIS passes away leaving behind his fortune to the person who finds 3 Easter Eggs he has left inside OASIS. Wade’s avatar Parzival and other gunters start spending all their time looking for these eggs. After a few years of this quest (not kidding), when Parzival figures out the first clue and finds the first egg, he begins on a treacherous journey filled with new friends and mortal enemies.
This book is nothing but a full-dose hit of 80s nostalgia: it is choc-a-bloc full of references to 80s computers, video games, TV series, movies and music. The quest, the clues, the virtual world gunters live in, everything revolves around these references. It is quite impressive how much research Ernest Cline has done to weave obscure game references and other details right into the plot. The premise is fantastic and the world is built up beautifully in the beginning. The plot though gets weaker after the first egg is won. Parzival makes four memorable characters as friends: Aceh, Art3mis, Daito and Shoto. But an evil rival corporation named IOI is also introduced as a comical movie-style villain. The quests after the first one are quite watered down, not even seeming as hard to win as the first one. Another niggle is that the decaying world outside OASIS is not of concern to anybody in the book. Everybody is happy spending their entire lifetimes inside OASIS. Ready Player One turned out to be a riveting unputdownable nostalgia-fest that I loved experiencing, but I can easily see why most non-geeky readers will not find it so.
Rating: 4/4 (★★★★)