I’m really sad that I only just discovered this book. Written by Earnest Cline and released late 2011, once I picked it up I didn’t put it down. I admit to being a bit of a geek at heart, and although I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, I have logged my fair share of time playing World of Warcraft. This book draws you into a world where World of Warcraft really exists (among other virtual reality worlds), and the citizens of said world live inside their virtual world more than the real one. It is a must read for any child of the 80’s, Gamer (RPG or Video), movie geek, or person with a pulse. Should you pick up the audio book, it is read by non-other than Wil Wheaton of Star Trek and Big Bang Theory fame.
Stephen King once wrote that plot needs to take a backseat to story, and this is a perfect example of storytelling at its finest.
The year is 2044 and the world is in near-ruins. A huge recession has taken its toll on the global economy, and resources are scarce. The creator of the world’s most famous MMORPG, James Halliday, dies suddenly and leaves behind a video will to the world. The video says that whoever can discover Halliday’s in game Easter egg will receive his multi-billion dollar fortune and controlling stake in GSS (the company that hosts the virtual world). This sets the globe into a frenzy, and egg hunters (soon referred to as “gunters”), devote an enormous amount of time to studying 1980s pop culture, the decade Halliday grew up in and was perpetually obsessed with, in the hope it will assist them with locating and solving the puzzles involved with the egg.
The book takes us into the alternate worlds of our dreams: World of Warcraft, the movie Wargames, Dungeons & Dragons modules, the inside of the Atari console, Rush videos, and a post-apocalyptic world not often visited in modern fiction.
That’s not to say this book doesn’t have its flaws. It has infodumps of back-story that slows the pace down more than I’d have preferred, a storyline that is eerily similar to the new Tron movie, and a somewhat one dimensional antagonist that never truly has me fearing for our heroes.
Despite these shortcomings, Ready Player One is a must read for anyone seeking escape, if only for a short time.