The 80’s Rocked: Book Review of READY PLAYER ONE
I was a girl of the 80’s. High hair, a rolled cuff at the base of my jeans, I owned leg warmers, and cruised the streets blaring Duran Duran. Most of my generation can’t pass up the reruns of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and the classic John Hughes films. A current New York Times bestselling young adult novel – READY PLAYER ONE – captures the highlights of the 80’s in a fun, action-packed novel set in a futuristic world.
Ernest Cline writes about Earth set in the year 2044 destroyed by global warming, overcrowding, and pollution. Teenager Wade Watts lives with fifteen other people in a trailer stacked upon other trailers in this world. Given the bleakness of reality, most people escape to a virtual world called the Oasis.
By placing on a pair of virtual reality goggles and haptic gloves, anyone can escape to another world and explore many realms, exchange merchandise, travel to different planets, fight villains, and go on adventures. The story begins when the creator of the Oasis dies and reveals that an “egg” is hidden within the Oasis. The first person to find the virtual egg will inherit his multi-million dollar fortune.
The treasure hunt begins! The creator of the Oasis was born, raised, and worshipped the 1980’s. The Oasis is rich in 80’s culture and each step of the treasure hunt involves games, movies, songs, or other references to the 80’s. As someone who remembers playing Pitfall with friends on the Atari in my youth, this book kept me smiling throughout. The fun is heightened when the clues require vast knowledge of 80’s culture and the characters “study” episodes of Family Ties, play Pac Man, watch Ladyhawke, and study Ewok culture to study for their quest. Wade memorizes Monty Python movies and even knows every strategic move of Dungeons and Dragons.
Conflict comes as IOI (Innovative Online Industries) wants to find the treasure first in order to monopolize the previously free Oasis. The Gunters (gamers) must win in order to preserve their virtual world.
When reality is a dirty, awful place, friendships are formed in a virtual world based on conversations with someone’s Avatar. Intellect, humor, and good banter is the basis for any good friendship and this brings people together. When the character’s meet in the real world, they are anxious to see each others “real” faces but soon realize it doesn’t matter because friendship is based on what’s INSIDE.
READY PLAYER ONE is action-packed with a vast treasure hunt spanning worlds requiring the search for clues at every turn. I don’t typically read much science fiction, but I devoured this novel in two days and loved every minute.
Bonus: Steven Spielberg is making it into a movie….. OMG!
My only wish was that the main character was an obese, hairy, young man that had a handsome young avatar in the Oasis. This would solidify the message that friendships are based on personality, knowledge, sense of humor, and inner character and it doesn’t matter what the appearance is of the person operating the computer. This was the message of the supporting characters. I suppose that may not sell movies since it is told in first person. Still – – – Loved this book.