Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Epic Book Is Epic

by Meghan B.

Every so often, a book comes along that is so awesome that you wish you could have your memory erased so you can read it again. To re-live the wonderful "fuck yeah" moments with new, fresh eyes. To delight in the plot and rush to the last page without knowing how it will all end. A book so deeply, deeply epic that you would gladly go all Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for it. 

That book would be Ernest Cline's magnum opus, Ready Player One. I am ready to call it my favorite book of the year. Never before has the idea of social dystopia, 80s nostalgia and all out nerdiness been combined with such aplomb before.

What makes this book so awesome? Where should I even begin? The book is full to the brim with nerdy asides and clever injokes to those of us obsessed with both pop culture and the internet. Every other page is a new reference that will make your geeky heart sing. Even better, everything makes sense. Cline isn't using geek culture to sell a book, you can tell he loves everything he talks about and that makes the references seem friendly and thoughtful instead of pandering. It's as if he's saying "I love this stuff, I hope you do too". It is a love letter to the 80s, to video games, to the whole idea of being a nerd.

Wade Watts, known as Parzival, is a poor kid living in a slum outside of what used to be Oklahoma City. The world as we know it has crumbled, poverty is rampant and the environment is in shambles. None of that matters though, because there is the OASIS. The OASIS is the biggest multiplayer video game to ever exist. It's virtual reality times infinity. It has surpassed the internet and become the end all be all for humanity. You go to school in the OASIS, you go to work in the OASIS. The real world may be unspeakably terrible, but it doesn't matter. Your life is lived through the OASIS. The best part? It's basically free to everyone.

The inventor of this brave new world is named James Halliday. He is a brilliant shut-in who benevolently gives humanity the OASIS and watches it spin out of control. When Halliday dies, he leaves a challenge to all of humanity. Find the easter egg hidden in one of the millions of realms and become the new benevolent leader of the OASIS.

Ernest Cline and his badass Delorean
As you can imagine, this turns ugly fast. Halliday was obsessed with the 80s and old school video games, so those hoping to find the egg become giant 80s pop culture nerds. Everyone thinks the path to the egg will be uncovered using the most obscure of 80s trivia. Using Halliday's obsession, the book quickly begins to hurl you into a world where being able to quote Monty Python from memory could be the difference between life and death.

I can't tell you more than this. To do so would be to ruin the book. I can't do that, Dave. Take my word for it, this book is the most harrowing, fast paced, epic, brilliant, insane thing I've read in years. It has everything. Pop culture, memes, video games, Firefly references, love, death, the battle between good and evil... I can not stress enough how mind blowingly fantastic this book was. Will Lavender, who reviewed the book, called it "this generation's Neuromancer" and I'm fully inclined to agree. If I gave books a rating using stars, Ready Player One would get seven and a half stars out of five.

Do you like gritty cyberpunk dystopias? Do you like 80s trivia? Do you like stories about the triumphant of good over insurmountable evil? Do you want a book that makes you shout "FUCK YES!" out loud during the most satisfying moments? Do you have a pulse? If you answered yes to any of the above, you MUST read Ready Player One. There are no ifs, ands or buts about this. You must read it. I don't care if you have to put it on one of your fancy e-readers or drive right this second to the nearest bookstore, you must get it. Ship it from Amazon, use an African or European swallow, just get this book. Sit someplace comfortable, strap yourself in and get ready for the ride of your life.

Ready, player one?
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  1. You had me at "It is a love letter to the 80s, to video games, to the whole idea of being a nerd."

    Wonderful review. I'm off to buy the book. :-)

  2. Just added my name to the San Francisco Public Library's wait list for the book. I'm number 92 in line :D

  3. damn.... I feel like my life would not be complete until I read this now...
    thanks. not like I have time to read....

  4. Meh. I was a little lukewarm on this. Too much of his world makes no sense except as it serves the plot and the 80s reference reached a point of saturation pretty early on for me.


  5. ok, I finished. last night at 3 in the morning. After the first 5 chapters, it REALLY picked up, and I couldn't put it down. Good choice Meg.