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Ready Player Oneby Ernest Cline
I had many books on my to-read list, but this one jumped straight to the top as soon as I got my hands on a copy. It has everything I love about video games and cartoons and anime from the '80s. The pacing of the book is great, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. Anyone who can make a story based around the Atari game Adventure is my hero.
I had a hard time choosing a number one pick for my Top 5s of 2011, but this book won out because it was fun and nostalgic and possibly the most joyfully entertaining book I read all year. A quest story set mostly in a virtual world, it's a geeky celebration of all things '80s a decade when video arcades and John Hughes movies reigned supreme. Is it the best book I read? Probably not. Is it the book that made me happiest while I was reading it and that I most want to force on friends and strangers alike? Absolutely.
Set in the year 2044, Ready Player One tells the story of a Steve Jobs-like character, his death, and the game that's played in a virtual world he created. The winner gains control of his company, and players range from big corporations with money, loner kids, and teams from across the world. It's a fun book filled with characters you love to cheer for and lots of '80s trivia.
"If you grew up in the 1980s and resided anywhere on the nerd-geek spectrum, all it takes is the right Rush or Genesis song to bring you back to the video arcade. This was before video games became visually stunning and able to be controlled just by waving your hand in the air. Back then, gaming consoles were behemoths with perpetually sticky buttons, and the game play usually involved some variation on moving a dot around while shooting dots at differently colored dots." Michael Schaub, NPR (Read the entire NPR review)
Synopses & Reviews
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut — part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?
"This adrenaline shot of uncut geekdom, a quest through a virtual world, is loaded with enough 1980s nostalgia to please even the most devoted John Hughes fans. In a bleak but easily imagined 2044, Wade Watts, an impoverished high school student who calls a vertically stacked trailer park home, lives primarily online, alongside billions of others, via a massive online game, OASIS, where players race to unravel the puzzles OASIS creator James Halliday built into the game before his death, with the winner taking control of the virtual world's parent company, as well as staggering wealth. When Wade stumbles on a clue, he's plunged into high-stakes conflict with a corporation dedicated to unraveling Halliday's riddles, which draw from Dungeons and Dragons, old Atari video games, the cinematic computer hacker ode War Games, and that wellspring of geek humor, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Of course.) The science fiction, video game, technology, and geeky musical references pile up quickly, sometimes a bit much so, but sweet, self-deprecating Wade, whose universe is an odd mix of the real past and the virtual present, is the perfect lovable/unlikely hero. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Ready Player One expertly mines a copious vein of 1980s pop culture, catapulting the reader on a light-speed adventure in an advanced but backward-looking future. If this book were a living room, it would be wood-paneled. If it were shoes, it would be high-tops. And if it were a song, well, it would have to be Eye of the Tiger. I really, really loved it." Daniel H. Wilson
"This non-gamer loved every page of Ready Player One." Charlaine Harris
"Fascinating and imaginative...It's non-stop action when gamers must navigate clever puzzles and outwit determined enemies in a virtual world in order to save a real one. Readers are in for a wild ride." Terry Brooks
"An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline's imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Ready Player One is the ultimate lottery ticket." New York Daily News
About the Author
Ernest Cline has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture full time as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film, Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. Ready Player One is his first novel.
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