Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

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Three, maybe three and a half stars, read in March 2016.

It’s taken me forever to write this review, mostly because I keep questioning whether there’s even a point in writing it. I feel like I didn’t have the experience I should have had with the book, but I’m glad I read it. My husband has been trying to get me to read it for about a year now, telling me he knew I would love it, and I believed him—it’s just that I have a long list of books I’ve been waiting to get to, and this never seemed to fit in. But I had it in the back of my mind as something that’d be really great when I got to it, and I was excited. Finally, I decided to use it for the Reader’s Room Winter Scavenger Hunt.

I started out listening to the audiobook; it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton, which is obviously perfect, but ended up being a mistake for me. I’d read some reviews of Armada, and I went into Ready Player One with the impatience that most people only felt after having read both books. So then, at the beginning of the book, before the story has really begun, before I’ve had a chance to get hooked, when it’s sort of just pages of lists of geeky things . . . there was Wil Wheaton’s voice, and I couldn’t stop picturing his smug face (sorry WW). There was a really ridiculous scene with a few characters showing off their geek cred in front of a crowd, and Wil Wheaton saying the word “poseur” over and over and pronouncing it so awkwardly . . . and it was all just too annoying. I was turned off to it for the next few weeks.

About a month later, I finally picked up a print copy and just started reading. I skimmed where it was bogged down with trivia, the story started getting good, and I ended up finishing the book in a couple hours. The premise is really interesting; it takes place about thirty years in the future, “after the oil crash and the onset of the energy crisis,” when most kids go to school virtually through the OASIS. The book begins with the death of the creator of OASIS, and his posthumous announcement of a massive worldwide easter egg hunt, with his multibillion dollar fortune as the prize. People called “gunters” devote all their time to researching Halliday’s favorite 80s movies, music, and video games, looking for clues that will lead them to the prize. Our protagonist is the one who finds the first clue.

It’s a really fun book, and you have to go into it expecting unfettered geekery. If you enjoy movie references and treasure hunts, particularly if you know anything about 80s popular media, this is worth picking up.

Read-alikes:

For the Win, by Cory Doctorow
Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

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