Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - Book Review


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Reviewed by Amanda Kennedy on May 1st, 2017
Published by Crown Publishers
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
Generally speaking, I avoid science-fiction novels. Not that I have any particular aversion to the genre; it's just not really my thing.

However, RPO was highly recommended by by book group. I was urged to give it a try, particularly as most members rated it as one of the top reads in 2016. (This, by the way, is a group which focuses mostly on historical fiction and contemporary thrillers). I soon realised there was something special about this book.

A review on Goodreads describes Ready Player One as "80's nostalgia porn". Certainly, this is an accurate description. It is also so much more: a "coming of age" story; a reflection on our ever-increasing reliance on "screens"; a dystopian warning of the future; a love story... And it is absolutely saturated with references to the popular culture of my childhood.

In addition to puzzles, of course. I do love puzzles.

Unfortunately, I discovered this gem of a novel a little too late to participate fully. Back in 2012, Ready Player One author Ernie Cline has decided to give away a 1981 DeLorean automobile, complete with a Flux Capacitor, as promotional stunt for the paperback release of his novel. The challenge, in true RPO style, began with an Easter Egg hidden in the text of the newly released books, followed by three video-game challenges of increasing difficulty. In all honesty, I have no idea what I could have done with a DeLorean (hardly a practical car for a mum of three!), though I would have so enjoyed puzzling away with others in extension of the world RPO had opened up to me!

It does seem though, that a new ARG has opened up on the back of marketing for Spielberg's forthcoming film. You know, if you're interested...

I recommend Ready Player One to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not Sci-Fi is a genre you appreciate, and particularly if you grew up during the 80's.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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