It has been a while since I've really devoured a book. A book that I had to force myself to put down. A book that gave me trouble sleeping. A book that stuck with me fiercely after I finished it. Ready Player One was all of these things. I kept hearing this book mentioned here and there by people whose opinion I value. For the better part of a year, I kept meaning to check it out. I'm so sorry that it took me so long to do so.
I intend to keep this review as spoiler free as possible. Still, if you want to go into this book knowing as little as possible, read the next few sentences and move on. If you consider yourself a geek, a lover of geek culture, a video game nerd, or love pop culture in general (especially the 80's), put down whatever book you are currently reading and pick this one up. You can thank me later. If you hate reading, fine. I have an excellent alternative for you. There is an audio version available. Read by none other than geek pop culture icon Wil Wheaton. How appropriate.
The story is told from the perspective of Wade Watts, a desperately poor 18 year old living in a run-down trailer (literally stacked on top of other trailers) in a dystopian Oklahoma City in the year 2045. From these humble beginnings, Wade embarks on a whirlwind adventure with the whole world watching. It's a trope that we've seen over and over, whether it's Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Inheritance Cycle, and so on and so on. Wade breaks the mold of this trope ever so slightly, however. Wade isn't driven by fate. Wade is in control of his destiny. He doesn't embark on his journey completely clueless and aquire the skills he needs to succeed along the way. He has studied and worked for five years to prepare for his journey, and they serve him well.
This serves to give the book a break-neck pace. Things start off a little slowly as characters are introduced and the world is defined, but once things get going there is no looking back. The story builds page after page as it works its way to a wonderfully satisfying climax. Seriously. I'm pretty sure I had a big goofy grin on my face all they way through the final chapters. Mix that with a wonderful cast of characters you can't help but cheer for, a villain that is evil to the core and wants nothing more than to "win" power, life and death stakes, and more pop culture references than you can keep track of. You have a perfect balance of a good adventure story. Speaking of pop culture references, they are extensive. Whether directly or obscurely, tribute is paid to Star Wars, Star Trek, John Hughes, Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Back to the Future, Pac-Man, Adventure, Tempest, Joust, Monty Python, Rocky Horror Picture Show, World of Warcraft, Firefly, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Godzilla, Short Circuit, Cowboy Bebop, Voltron, The Muppets, and more. So much more.
Take a couple days, grab Ready Player One, kick back, and enjoy the ride. Trust me on this one.
Despite some minor flaws, I'm still compelled to give this book a perfect 5/5. It deserves it. Did I mention that the movie rights have already been purchased? Not sure how they will acquire all the licensing to make this movie properly, but the prospect of seeing it on the big screen gets me beyond excited.