You guys. You guys. Stop reading this review and just go read this book instead. Seriously. Like, right this second.
…Are you still here? Why are you still here? I am not kidding. Go read this book.
Here’s the deal: I confess, I’d already read Ready Player One, a year or so ago when Moon Man heard about it and picked up a copy and devoured it. For the span of a few days, every conversation we had was either muffled by there being a book between his face and the outside world, or was entirely about the book and how fantastic it was and how much he was enjoying it and how I should really, really read it. So when I got around to it (I’d been a little reluctant because he and I have rather different tastes in books), I was…well, braced. When someone you love is foaming at the mouth about how much they love something, you don’t want to be the one that punches the heart out of their dreams, y’know?
So when he finished it, I put on my game face, squared my shoulders, and picked it up…and emerged three days later, gasping and panting and all full of emotions, with an arm sore from fist-pumping at the triumphant bits and a general sense of spiritual exhaustion from all the tense scenes. And I looked at him, and I said those three little words every spouse longs to hear:
“You were right”.
I guess I should tell you some things about what this book is actually about. Here’s the rundown: the OASIS is a giant online virtual reality universe where you are limited only by your imagination and dedication. The real world is bleak and impoverished, where people like our protagonist live in literal stacks of mobile homes–like the cheapest high-rise ever–with several families sharing a single double-wide. Most folks have taken to spending most of their time in the OASIS, which is free to access, and you can attend school there, have jobs there, and run and play and have relationships in between.
And the creator of the OASIS has died, and left behind a puzzle: somewhere, tucked away in one of the hundreds and hundreds of worlds that comprise the OASIS, he has hidden an Easter egg. Whoever finds the egg wins sole control/ownership of the OASIS–which is worth kaspillions of dollars, and basically means you’re President of Everything. Anyone can play, anyone can win…ready, player one?
Oh, by the way, since anyone can play and anyone can win, a giant evil corporation is trying to find the egg too, so that they can take over the OASIS and do evil corporate things to it, including charging an access fee and increasing advertising in-game. Y’know, evil corporation stuff.
So at its base level, Ready Player One is pretty much “protagonist versus evil empire for control of the entire world”, which is enough to pique my personal interest, but here’s where it gets really fun: remember when I said the OASIS is an online virtual universe? What this means is that in a lot of ways, it’s a game. A video game. Your avatar has hit points and gains experience points. You can be magical if you want to, or tech-y, or both. You can make yourself look and sound however you want. You can climb into your giant robot and fly off to visit a digitized version of the Louvre, stopping to meet your friend for a pickup game of Quidditch on the way.
It’s geek paradise, is what it is. Nerd-vana. With an Easter egg, which means there’s a huge puzzle sitting there, ripe for the solving. And the soulless corporate monsters want to take it away from us.
Now are you ready, player one?
So that’s what this book is about. It will make you laugh, it will make you … well, nahh, I didn’t cry, but I did make sad faces a couple of times. It will make you wistful. It will make you want to high-five all of your nerdy friends and feel good about being nerdy yourself, and it will make you want to buy an extra copy so you always have one to loan out. (I can neither confirm nor deny rumors that we have three copies, just in case more than one person wants to borrow a copy at a given time.)
And remember back at the beginning when I confessed to having read it once before, and having lost my mind that time and devoured it like I was being paid per word?
Yeah, this re-read took me about three days. It’s a 500-page book. You know a book is good when it can grab you by the soul not once but twice, making you ignore phone calls and stay up two hours past bedtime again.
Let’s put it this way: the bags under my eyes attest to the brilliance that is this book. So go read it. Seriously. Right now. If you don’t, I’m pretty sure we can’t be friends anymore.
Ready, player one?
TL;DR: It’s protagonist versus evil corporation in the quest for a video game Easter egg that will give its finder complete control of the online virtual reality world that has more-or-less supplanted regular reality as the place where everyone lives and works and plays.
Rating: 9.75/10 muddy hoofprints. If you like David-and-Goliath stories, video games, 80s pop culture (the OASIS designer’s particular fandom), puzzles, quests, damning the man, comic book conventions (there aren’t any in the book, but Con attendees are pretty much the target demographic here), role-playing, LARPing, nerding out generally, or stories with a lot of action and adventure, this one’s for you. Buy several copies, because sooner or later someone you know will have a birthday.
…OH OH OH! I forgot the awesome-est part! As it turns out, the book itself contains an Easter egg!! I won’t tell you anything about that–you can hunt for it yourself, or find all sorts of spoiler-y information online–but dude there is an Easter egg in the book. The prize was snatched up a long time ago, but for the purpose of underscoring the awesomeness factor, do you know what the prize was? It was a rarkin’-farkin’ real live honest-to-goodness DeLorean, is what it was. You could win a DeLorean. Via an Easter egg, that you could find by reading a book about winning things by finding Easter eggs. SweetbabyJesus. /fans self