Review: “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Broadway Books. 608 pages.

I had heard rumor that this story was good and that it was going to be made into a movie. Then recently when Shelly and I went to the showing of Blade Runner (which you should really see), they showed a trailer for the new movie. What fascinated me was that it was being directed by Steven Spielberg, who is pretty particular about his projects these days. And then I discovered why. So I had to get the book.

On the surface, it’s the story of a dystopian world set in the year 2044. The book starts off in Oklahoma City, then moves to Cleveland, Ohio, but I hear that the movie just stays in Cleveland. No big deal. In any case, our hero Wade Watts is a high school senior who lives in the ghetto of trailers that are stacked on each other 20 high. The oil industry had gone under, and global warming has done a number on the world. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and most people spend their time, if they can, in a virtual world called OASIS. It is everything the real world isn’t. It is free, and promises an escape for those who have no other.

When James Halliday, the creator of OASIS dies, he leaves a bizarre will that states that he has created a treasure hunt on OASIS with a set of three keys and three gates. The first person to get through all three gates and find the golden egg at the end would inherit his corporation and OASIS as well as $240 billion.

As the description on the cover of the book says, the story is a cross between Willy Wonka and The Matrix. There is an evil corporation called IOI that wants to monetize OASIS, but to do so, they have to win the competition, and so they go all out to stop Wade and others who are competing for the keys. It’s a fun story, and goes by very fast.

But that’s not what makes the story the most fun. Apparently Halliday is obsessed with the 80s decade and the culture of that time. Anyone who lived through that time will be bombarded with hundreds of references to things they had forgotten. It’s a trip down nostalgia lane, but not in a smarmy way. It’s actually a hoot.

I had a great time with the book, and finished the 600 pages in two days. I know you’ll like it too.

Five of five stars.