When the creator of OASIS dies without an heir and leaves control of his company and his multi-billion dollar fortune to the first person who can solve the riddles and clues he left behind to find an Easter egg, the whole world takes an interest.
There are so many geek references in this novel, I can’t even begin to describe them all. I mean, I consider myself to have fairly excellent geek credentials - I managed to guide a half-elf wizard from being a kobold-slaying weakling to a thirtieth-level demi-god in D&D without dying - but there were plenty of references that even I didn’t get. Luckily the author manages to include all the geek references without being a tosser about it. Like, he doesn’t ever include references like they’re an in-joke that you wouldn’t ‘get’ if you’re not a committed enough gamer/movie buff/music nerd. I did wonder how the gunters (egg-hunters) managed to have so much time to basically learn everything about the eighties (Wade has watched Monty Python’s Holy Grail 157 times. 157! As a 90-minute film, that’s 240 hours in total! Ten days! On just one film!), and in addition learning every known fact about the creator of OASIS, but I decided to let that slide.
The characterisation is pretty good. They learn and grow and become different people. The characters are well-rounded and believable. They have flaws. There are strong female characters. You end up caring about them. All good.
Characterisation isn’t why you read Ready Player One, though. What blew me away most about this book were the crazy ways Ernest Cline blurs lines between genres. He basically takes a fantasy plot (ordinary Joe undertakes noble quest for a world-changing item, complete with magic, going up against evil villain), chucks in loads of sci-fi (the MMORPG, in-game technology) and sets it in a dystopian future.
There is virtually no introspection in this book - it’s not going to change the way you see the world (although you might perhaps make more of an effort to ensure the world doesn’t end up like the world in the book) but holy crap, it’s completely bloody entertaining.
The only possible flaw I could find is that the first half of the book contains some pretty serious infodumps. I personally don’t mind infodumps too much (there are other aspects of writing, such as instalove and love triangles that bother me more), but I think the back story of OASIS and the dystopian future could have been more skilfully done.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. Because even if you *think* you’re not much of a geek, you probably secretly are. Sci-fi, dystopia and fantasy are so much a part of entertainment these days (and this is a good thing) that having geek credentials has never been so mainstream. Do you watch Game of Thrones? Did you like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games or Divergent? Are you looking forward to checking out the new Star Wars films? Rupert Murdoch and the bloke from TOWIE who doesn’t know how to tell the time are literally the only two people I can think of who might not fall into this category.
So yeah, this book is awesome. Read it. Now.