Book of the Month November
Review by Emily Hirschmann
I purchased this novel half fearful that it would be beyond my level of geekdom... It is, but I love it nonetheless.
As far as debut novels go, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One pretty much has it all; jeopardy, adventure, human interest, originality, empathy, and a damn good story to boot. Aptly described by USA Today as a cross between Willy Wonka and The Matrix, the novel portrays a dystopian near-future which feels, in many respects, not entirely inconceivable. Having almost run out of natural resources, humans have retreated to a cyber-universe, where first lives are spent in education and employment, and second lives are lived through avatars in an almost endless array of fictional worlds.
The story tracks the life of Wade, a late-teenaged boy hooked on the OASIS (a multi-player online virtual reality platform) and determined, like every other ‘geek’ in his generation, to find the ultimate ‘Easter Egg’ hidden by the platform’s creator. Unlike every other Easter Egg in history however, this one contains a prize worth having; ownership of a multi-billion dollar business; the OASIS… Taking in every bit of home computer, gaming, sci-fi and 1980s pop culture in the process.
Now, although I’m rather partial to the odd ‘sword and sorcery’ story – I do love a good wizard! – I am not of a particularly nerdy disposition; I was a very young child of the 80s, so although I played Pac Man at home with my siblings, I certainly didn’t spend time in arcades, and I’ve never really enjoyed sci-fi of the Star Wars/Star Trek ilk. Consequently, parts of the text were lost on me and two or three pages seemed a teensy bit dull, largely because I didn't get the references. However, if you've ever read a fantasy novel, listened to '80s music, watched a sci-fi film, or played a computer/arcade game, there will be something in this book for you. I relived parts of my youth in these pages. And as all good novels should, Ready Player One, had me rooting for the hero from the off.
Clever, funny, charming, Ready Player One is a completely engaging read and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
Ready Player One (RRP £8.99) by Ernest Cline is published by Arrow Books and available from all good book shops.