“Ready Player One” Review AL

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I can read, but just barely. When I force myself to partake in this arduous task it’s either to take in a dose of God’s Word or to better myself in regards to youth ministry and deepen my own spiritual walk. Rarely (or more like never) do I read for recreation. Fiction, for me, has always been a dish best served with popcorn and soda at the theater. Despite this tendency, I had heard stirrings about this book and my interest was piqued when I learned that Steven Spielberg was brought on board to direct the film adaptation of this book. My good friend Matt (who is much better read than myself) had “Ready Player One” on his bookshelf and when I asked him about it, he recommended it to me. I decided to take him up on his offer to lend it to me. See, this is the problem with reading, way too much exposition. On to the review!

WOW (inside joke for those who have read the book intended)

This book enthralled me! The page count is just over 350 (might as well be 1,000 for a slow reader like myself) but I zoomed through the book in a mere 10 days. Set in a grim future where society have neglected the real world and opted to spend the majority of their time in a virtual “oasis” where people go to school, shop for clothing and accessories for their avatars, play games, and visit amazing worlds. The main character, Wade, finds himself in the middle of an epic adventure. And it all starts with a death.

James Halliday, the creator of this virtual reality, has recently passed away. Upon his passing, he released a message indicating that he programmed a hidden “easter egg” inside the massive virtual world. To find it, egg hunters must solve clues to find three keys that grant them access to three gates that contain complicated challenges. Collect all three keys and clear all three gates and you will find the egg that will grant the one who finds it the Halliday’s entire fortune and ownership of his company. Pretty cool right?

The greatest thing about this book is that Halliday grew up in the 80’s and was an avid fan of the music, movies, tv shows, and video games that shaped the pop culture of the decade. All egg hunters, or “gunters”, have to now familiarize themselves with everything from Rush songs to Pacman to try and win the prize for themselves. The book is packed full of 80’s references. I found myself listening to all the songs that Wade, the main character, listened to and felt myself immersed in this future world where knowledge of the right lyrics, movie lines, or arcade game strategies could lead you straight to fame and fortune. Even as I write this review, I’m watching “War Games” with Matthew Broderick for the first time.

It was a delight to decipher some of the reference clues from some of the knowledge I already had and put myself to building on this knowledge as the plot unfolded. All the while, the virtual world in which this easter egg hunt takes place has entire planets dedicated to fictional worlds like Middle Earth as well as real ones like the town Halliday, the creator, grew up in. All the while your avatar can go from planet to planet in an x-wing or a supped up DeLorean time machine.

The 80’s references were endless and the story was compelling. The book is well written and describes the world it takes place in with amazing detail. I cannot wait to see this story adapted for the big screen.

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