October 13, 2011

BOOKS: Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (2011)

The world of 2044 is on the verge of collapse, and most people spend their time hooked into the OASIS, which is a massive virtual reality playground where you can visit your favorite fantasy worlds, go to school, meet your friends (who may or may not be people you've ever met face-to-face) in virtual restaurants (or clubs, or chat rooms...). The popularity of virtual reality means that the entire world is in mourning when James Halliday, inventor of the OASIS, dies.

Halliday has one last surprise up his sleeve, though. In a videotaped will, he announces that hidden somewhere in the OASIS is a series of complicated puzzles, and that the first to find and solve them all will inherit his multi-billion dollar estate, which includes ownership of the OASIS. Cline's novel follows high school student Wade on his quest to find and solve Halliday's puzzles, the answers to which are rooted in Halliday's love of the 80s pop culture he grew up on.

It's a reasonably entertaining story, and Cline's vision of the OASIS, of lives spent in virtual reality, is fascinating. But I suspect that most of what I liked about the book was the opportunity to stroll down memory lane, playing "spot the reference" with the pop culture of my own teen years. If you're a child of the 80s, you might enjoy this; if you aren't, I don't think it'll have much to offer you.

No comments: