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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

For 2016 I’m taking a bold step forward and taking on the ‘52 book’ challenge. I know this year will probably be filled with surprise break-outs, train-wrecks and disappointments, so I want to start the year off strong with a book I’ve been excited to read for a few months now.

Man I’ve made some sucky decisions in my life, but this wasn’t one of them.

Ready Player One takes place in the near future of 2044 where life is your typical apocalyptic gloom-and-doom. So much so that everyone wants to spend all their free time in virtual reality (can’t say I blame them). Thanks to computer genius James Halliday people can now choose to plug themselves into the Matrix the Oasis Virtual Reality all their waking hours.

When Halliday passes away it is discovered that, instead of a Living Will, he left clues to an Easter Egg that’s hidden in Oasis. First person to find the egg gets his massive fortune and legal rights to Oasis. Let the hunt begin!
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“Jim always wanted everyone to share his obsessions, to love the same things he loved.” (pg.122)

On the surface Ready Player One is the classic ‘hero’s journey’ set in a world with no limits. Our hero, Wade Watts, comes from a lowly position and becomes a part of an adventure he never dream would ever come true. There are many elements that reminded me of Star Wars (episode IV) and The Goonies. That alone makes it enjoyable, but I think the reason for its surging popularity is the nostalgic love for all things gamer and ‘80s pop culture.

Sadly the best aspect of this novel is also its downfall. Let me explain: There are some deep flaws in the novel, but because I was having so much fun reading Ready Player One I just threw my literary glasses out the window (I’m also a sucker for a good treasure hunt). If I didn’t enjoy the nostalgia the novel invoked I don’t know if I would be as invested in Wade’s journey. And if you aren’t invested then all the flaws are on display waving little red flags.

For my readers wondering if they should give it a shot, I have some suggestions:

Suggestion #1: If you don’t like or even loathe any type of nostalgia of the ‘80s or classic video games this might not be the book for you. I love my 80’s pop culture so I felt at home. I don’t know a lot about classic games but I never felt lost about what’s going on because of this lack of knowledge.

Suggestion #2: If you didn’t like Star Wars: The Force Awakens you might not like this book. The same problems people had with the latest Star Wars sound very similar to the complaints I heard about Ready Player One.

All in all I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, but on Goodreads only whole stars are awarded. As I was deciding whether I should round up or down I kept coming back to the fun I had reading this novel. I spent a couple of nights staying well past my bedtime because I couldn’t stop. I think that deserves 4 stars.

In The Margins:

  • Hey Readers! Should I have any ratings? If so, should I stick to the Goodreads scale?
  • Speaking of The Goonies I’m glad to hear that Steven Spielberg will be directing the movie adaptation. I think this material is right up his alley.
  • Very excited for the first book of 2016 to be done! Hopefully I’ll have more winners like this one.
  • Next week: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
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