Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book Review: Ready Player One - Highly Recommend

I've been meaning to get around to this book, Ready Player One, ever since it was placed on my book club's selection list last year. Unfortunately, the month of this discussion I was out of town. Plus, at the time, the hold list was quite lengthy. This time around, I was able to snag it in audio form and was really glad I did. The miles on my treadmill fell away as I walked, thoroughly engrossed in the action of the tale.

Classic writing advice is to write about what you love. Ernest Cline has clearly done that. We enter the environment of gaming with an intensity only a techie could establish. The world of this book comes to life like putting on a pair of virtual reality goggles and seeing something new.

Wade Watts spends most of his time avoiding reality by living through his avatar in the OASIS, a virtual reality system created by a man named James Halliday. In the spirit of gaming, when Halliday dies, he leaves behind a quest for the masses, a set of obstacles to push through in order to acquire three special keys and unlock the ultimate Easter Egg (the entirety of his inheritance). Wade joins the multitudes attempting to ferret out the puzzles Halliday left behind. All of these puzzles circle around pop culture from the 80's and gaming technology throughout history. But, Wade has studied hard and is pretty good at the games. When he lands in the top five, he begins to realize that not only is he competing against hoards of people, but that many of these people would do anything to take him out of the game.

I loved this book so much that I began to talk it up to my ten-year-old son (a boy who loves to tackle lengthy novels). But, then I had to retract that suggestion or put the book on hold for at least a few years. Even though the main character is a teenager and Sean often reads intense books about teens (like The Hunger Games series or The Maze Runner series), it still contained some mild sexual references that I would feel too uncomfortable putting in the hands of a ten-year-old reader (seriously, was that necessary). Plus, he is likely to miss out on the thrill of the numerous 80's references and computer history details. I found those quite interesting, having lived my teen years in that time period.

I never felt bogged down by the details of the story and was quite caught up in the plot development of the tale. You have your classic foe and your loveable hero (note: some of the characters were a bit too predictable). Plus, there's a bit of romance thrown into the mix. Even if you're not a big fan of computer gaming, this novel is sure to appeal based on the perfect plotting pace alone. Every chapter introduces a new obstacle and Wade fights through in remarkable ways. I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike (just not children).

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