Ready Player One takes place in the future -- sometime in the 2040s. The world is very different. The economy has crumbled, and a lot of people are very poor. Most people spend their time in the OASIS, a virtual reality world. The OASIS was created by James Halladay as a virtual game world, but it has become much more. It's really a virtual world, where people can do almost anything. They can own property and build things, go to school, buy things, and most importantly form close relationships with others -- via their avatars. You can have best friends and even a romantic relationship, and not know what your friend looks like or where they are physically located in the world.
When Halladay dies, he leaves a video explaining his will. He is going to give his entire fortune to the person who can defeat his virtual game -- find his Easter Egg hidden somewhere in OASIS.
No one is able to make any progress for several years, and some people forget about the challenge. But there are those who devote their entire lives to finding the Egg. These people are called gunters. Wade is a gunter. Most know him as Parzival, his avatar's name. He has spent most of his life learning everything about Halladay -- who grew up in the 80s and was a huge fan of everything to do with 80s culture -- music, movies, books, pop culture, and most importantly early video games.
When Parzival figures out the first step to the Egg -- finding the first key -- all hell breaks loose, and the game really takes off. Things become exciting but dangerous too. There is an "evil corporation" pooling all its resources to find the Egg, and they will stop a nothing to make sure they find it first.
The adventure in Ready Player One is awesome, but the characters are what made this story stand out. They are teens on a mission (well, at least their avatars are teens....) and while they are competing against each other, they are still friends. And they are funny! Their banter is priceless. And there's a little romance between two of them which adds some more emotion.
There isn't a lot of detail about the real world, but enough to make me think I don't want to live there. Ready Player One is about the characters and their quest, so don't expect political details of the downfall of civilization.
I was in my 20s in the 80s (OK, pause to do the math....) and I recognized many of the cultural references. But there are SO MANY of them -- I didn't know them all. And that's OK, because Ready Player One is such a great adventure, that those details can be overlooked if necessary. Cline includes some descriptions for those who are unfamiliar with the important references.
So, the question is, will today's teens like Ready Player One? I believe they will. Even if they don't understand all the references, it's the quest that keeps you turning pages. It's the "teens against Big Brother" theme that makes your root for the underdog.
Ready Player One has wide appeal, but particularly to teens who enjoy science fiction, adventures, and video gaming. This book has it all.
Published byCrown Publishing, 2011
Copy obtained from the library
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