Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wow - I don't know why I waited so long to read this book, but I'm glad I finally did! Sure, it sounds like something I might not like - dystopian futuristic - but there are no steampunk airships or high fantasy thrown in, so it still met my strict reading criteria.
The book is told from Wade's POV. He's a poor kid growing up with his aunt, who mostly ignores him. The world has drastically changed and is now low on energy and jobs, but has given them the ultimate escape: The OASIS. The world's largest game developer offered this fully immersive virtual reality game for only a quarter. Like most games like this, there are ways to spend your money once inside of it, but for a quarter, you can't beat it. Wade even attends should in the alternate reality, which is how he gets a console that lets him connect and become his avatar for the majority of this days and nights.
The real story here, aside from the commentary on society as a whole, is essentially a quest. The game designer has passed away, but rather than leaving his fortune and the world he built to someone he knows, he issues a challenge. Whoever can find his easter egg can keep it all. There are clues buried in oodles of pop culture and gaming references that "gunters" (egg hunters) become obsessed with. Wade is a self-proclaimed gunter and is the first to make a breakthrough and show up on the scoreboard. Throughout the quest, there are bad guys (the sixers), some really bad guys (the head of the sixers), and some really awesome friends (who I will misspell because I listened to the audiobook).
The astounding knowledge of the 80s, super fun references and action, and misfit friendships had me hooked from the start. If you don't smile while reading this book, there is something wrong with you. Yes, I rooted for the romance (of course), but the real star is Wade and his mad skillz. While I wish there was even more in this book, I ended it satisfied and happy. I can't wait to see how they make this into a movie and if it even comes close to the book.
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