It’s been a long time since I’ve been as enthusiastic about a book as I am about Ready Player One. I read it in two days because I couldn’t put it down, which I think is a record for me.
The story is slightly reminiscent of Reamde by Neal Stephenson in that it centres around a worldwide video game which permeates all aspects of normal life. The difference is that in Ready Player One, the game is the setting for most of the novel, and the ideas and the workings of it are central to the plot. This leads to a fair bit of explanation about how it all works, but it is truly fascinating and so not tedious to get through. The whole concept is developed in a very plausible and realistic way. This book may be a very accurate depiction of the future on several different levels. In addition to predictions about game play, it also provides interesting social comment about centralization of power through the media.
The twist which Cline uses to add extra interest to the novel is the fascination with the pop culture of the 1980s. It is a theme that runs through the whole plot and is used in the problem solving segments of the story. It’s not name dropping like in Walton’s Among Others, but is much more effectively integrated into all parts of the story. Certainly the book is a little more enjoyable if you recognize the references to everything from PacMan to Rush’s 2112, but it also must be fun to discovery this ancient pop culture for the first time. It is the ultimate video or pop culture geek novel, and I mean that in the most positive and complimentary way.
I can’t help but think that this would make such an excellent TV show, making extensive use of CGI and animation. Somebody out there needs to do that.
Update: After writing this it occurred to me that this would be the perfect novel for a parent and teenage child (especially father and son) to read together. The younger one would relate to the futuristic game playing and the older one could fill in the info about he 80s. It would give them a lot to talk about.
This would be my top pick for books read this year. The others would include:
Blackout by Mira Grant
Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Rule 32 by Charlie Stross
and, of course,
A Storm Of Swords by George R.R. Martin