Ready Player One- Ernest Cline.

Synopsis from Goodreads.

“A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.  
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”

“Somewhere along the way I started to go overboard. I may, in fact, have started to go a little insane.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I’m already recommending this to everyone I know. EVERYONE.

High Points.
*Deep Breath* Alternate Reality. Virtual Insanity.Scoreboards. Quests (More books should have quests).Good old fashioned competition. W-O-W. Aech. At3mis. Best friends forever. Corruption. Damn the Man. Eccentric Billionaires. Retro. Duran Duran. Matthew Broderick. Monty Python. Rush. John Hughes films. The most necessary game of Pac-Man in existence. Robots. Def Leppard. Spaced. I finally had a reason to spend half my night on YouTube. Originality. Easter Eggs. Rags to Riches. Commentary on human interaction. Cynicism. Avatars.
I have honestly never read anything like this before and I loved every second of it. There is not a single doubt in my mind that this whole book is going to happen in the next 30 years….and I can’t WAIT. I’m coming up with my avatar name already.

Low Point.
The wonderful Maja (The one who is solely responsible for turning me into a rabid fangirl with this book!) raised a good point in regards to the genre of this book and it has got me thinking a lot about whether I would class this book as YA. Not because of the subject matter (it is deliciously dark!) but because of all the 80s references that make up a huge part of this story. I’ve only just left (kicking and screaming) the realm of the true YA audience and a lot of the references were completely lost on me.
And, like Maja suggested, I’m not sure whether someone, say, born in 1994 would understand all and I think their enjoyment could be limited to what they know about the in-jokes.
BUT, I feel we should give Mr Cline a chance to defend himself… so here is what he says in his acknowledgements:

“These people [The filmmakers/musicians/writers referenced] have all entertained and enlightened me, and I hope that- like Halliday’s hunt- this book will inspire others to seek out their creations.”

I don’t mind saying that I read this book with Google open, not just because it would help me understand the story…. But because I wanted to find out about it.
And also, hipsters are going to love this book. Sigh.
Just because we have to tolerate them doesn’t mean we have to encourage them, guys!

Hero.
Wade Watts (called thus because his dad thought it “sounded like the secret identity of a superhero”) is an overweight eighteen year old from a trailer park who has an OASIS console permanently attached to his face. Kind of like this.

He’s a loser and he’s cynical and he’s completely obsessed with completing Halliday’s quests, so much so that he has basically downloaded everything to do with the 80s to his brain.
For someone who has only ever played one absolutely fantastically spectacular computer game in my life, I often found it hard to relate to Wade’s obsession with OASIS. But, he is noble, insecure, loyal, highly intelligent, hysterical and, most importantly, he’s so determined to crawl out of the crap that he’s had to endure and truly make something of himself. And he also says things like this: “People who live in glass houses should shut the fuck up.
I think even if you don’t know a thing about computers, games, films or music… I think it’s impossible not to relate to and fall head over heels in love with Wade.

Love Interest.
Art3mis is the avatar that Wade has admired from afar across the artificially rendered plains of OASIS. Art3mis is cute, funny and a complete badass and gives a Wade a run for his money when it came to solving the quests. Which, of course, made me love them instantly. You all know I’m not a massive fan of irrelevant love interests and this almost fell into that category because this book had SO much else going on, there wasn’t really a need.
But I liked the dynamic between the two of them and their exchanges often induced chuckling.

Best Friends.
I WANT AECH TO BE MY FICTIONAL REAL LIFE BESTFRIEND.

Baddie.
CAPITALISM.
Also, who do I write to to request for more baddies to say “Art thou ready?” before challenging protagonists to a due in books.
Answers on a postcard, please.

Theme Tune.

I’m totally being lazy with this one seeing as it’s one of the first songs that are mentioned in this book. But I don’t care because it not only proves the aforementioned point about how fun it was to discover new songs that I was too young to hear the first time round… but it is also a spectacular song from a ridiculously cool era that I missed being part of by the skin of my teeth.
Although saying that, this entire book provided me with the best sound track to my impromptu dance parties that I always never hold in my room.
I’m determined to compile a ‘Ready Player One’ playlist as soon as I have a spare week or so.

Angst Level.
6/10. Unless you are the type of person who gets emotionally involved in computer games, you’ll probably find this book quite tame in the angst levels. Sure there are some nail-biting moments but once you remember that it’s not even real within the book you’re reading… you’ll be fine.
But, one of the parts that I really loved was the whole idea of human relationships vs relationships formed through avatars.
In a world where most of the human race spend their time in an alternative reality, forming bonds with people who they don’t even know their real name/age/gender/race/occupation, the lines of who a person really is were continually blurred. I loved how Cline explored this idea of identity, human interactions and forming relationships based on how you want to be seen rather than who you actually are and all the insecurities you feel when you make that initial connection, whether online or offline.
Anyway, I really loved this quote:
“We’d known each other years, in the most intimate way possible. We’d connected on a purely mental level.”

Recommended For.
Anyone who has ever watched an 80s movie….and enjoyed it. People who think Matthew Broderick is a grossly underrated actor. People who could quite happily go without seeing another real person for days on end. People who like microwave food and things that come in a can. People who think Duran Duran/ Rush/Def Leppard/Oingo Boingo/Mellancamp’s songs were written solely for you (I still maintain that Rio is all about me). People who love discovering new bands/films/books/comics. People who will always be jealous of people who have cool initials. People who find scoreboards oddly unnerving (Thanks for that Hunger Games.) People who wonder what happened to Robot Wars. People who find eccentric billionaires endearing. People who often wonder what they would like if they were pixelated. People who think that Dungeons and Dragons is a legitimate sport. People who have ever picked up a coconut and, after checking they’re alone in the house, galloped around the kitchen with them while wearing a helmet out of an empty Cocoa Pops box.

I also found this. It is not only the coolest book site I have ever seen… but also maybe, definitely the coolest site I have seen in a long time.
There are rankings of sideburns. Sideburns.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers. It will be available to buy later this year.

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