Published on August 16, 2011, Ready Player One is loaded with 80’s references and video game references. Not being a big gamer myself, I hesitated to read it. I might be a geek, but I tend to be of the TV show / book reading variation, not the gamer variation, although by logical geek default gaming makes sense. Any how, this book was honestly so amazing. I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.
It is set a little after 2040 (they mentioned 2041 I think) and there is a major energy crisis and people are always online and addicted to losing themselves in the online world. This 67-year-old billionaire died and left his company and money for who ever could find this egg. He owned the biggest virtual reality platform full of all the online shopping, video game platforms, chatrooms, and even schools that you could imagine. After 5 years, no one had any luck. In comes Wade, an 18 year old kid living in a futuristic trailer park and he is trying to find the egg. Initially, he has only 1 friend and a crush on a girl.
It was very much a coming of age story. It was less about whether or not Wade won the egg, it was all about the journey he went on to find the egg while he transformed from a socially awkward, chubby teenager into the man that he would become. To be fair, a substantial point was also his attempt to won the egg because, for a long time, that’s a huge motivation for him. I feel like we never get to old for a coming of age story. I am sure a very talented literary critic could explain why people in general like coming of age stories; for me, I like getting to know characters and watching them grow and change. I suppose in many ways, this isn’t limited to only coming of age stories. No one wants to read a book where a character had no character flaws or challenges to overcome. The characters we can identify with and the characters we want to root for should be capable of growth and change, versus coming pre-prepared for the challenges they will face.
I knew ahead of time that this book was going to be full of computer, gaming, and 80’s references that I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I don’t really know what things like Atari are (old game system, beyond that is a big question), but I know enough to keep up. It was the references to pop culture, fantasy/science fiction and other video games I kept up with because I like that stuff; it was the system references that I chose to let go. The obvious gaming references shouldn’t act as a deterrent to anyone who wants to read the book, even if you don’t like video games, because the book is amazing. I couldn’t put it down; while you’ll rarely find me saying I didn’t like I book, it’s also a great compliment if I couldn’t put a book down. It satisfied equal parts geek, adventure, and great story line.
I should also mention that Ernest Cline has a new book that should be released around July 16, 2015 called Armada. It’s another video game-themed novel, and I read somewhere that the movie rights for Armada have already been purchased, which is something to look forward too. I think that Ready Player One would also make a really cool movie, I just don’t think it is possible because there are a lot of references to Star Wars (e.g. the Tie Fighters, which I realize is not spelled correct I don’t think) and Lord of the Rings (e.g. the one guy bought land in Oregon and built their home to look like Rivendell because his wife loves the Lord of the Rings). Obtaining the rights to include all of those things in the movie would probably be obscenely expensive, and that’s on top of norma production expenses. But a girl can dream right? (Also, a girl can dream about having a home that looks like Rivendell, but for now I will settle for my affordable Tardis cookie jar and Hadhafang sword AKA Arwen’s sword).
Apparently Ready Player One IS being made into a movie after all! I stmbled across this yesterday (May 14, 2015) and I am super stoked. The IMDB thingy is here. The movie is going to be directed by Steven Spielburg, so it should be super awesome. I guess Warner Bros acquired the rights for Ready Player One in 2010, the year before the book was even released in 2011. So much for thinking that the movie would be to impractical to make. This is amazing! For Ernst Cline, this is a dream come true, and why wouldn’t it be? Spielburg is a great director and makes epic movies.