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My review of READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

I recently finished reading an Advanced Reader Editon of READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline, and I am now wondering if the crafty author and I were separated at birth. His funny, action-packed near future sci-fi romp, was so packed full of 80s nostalgia, that I could swear we were twins, almost every reference hitting a direct cord with me.

Every piece of this fun novel was packed with movie, comic book, video game, and song references from the 80s, and I laughed at every mention of Crom, Intellivision, and many, many more. 

His character, Wade Watts, goes on the gaming adventure of a lifetime, very Wonka-esque, in fact, to win the golden ticket, or in this case the fortune of one John Halliday, inventor of the most popular video game in the future, the OASIS, where he hid his billions for one lucky winner to find at the end of the quest.

This book was part 1-part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in it's poor boy gets a chance, 1-part Little Brother in its mastery of a depicting a computer hacker pop-culture prodigy in the near future, and 1-parts Butter Scotch Ripple. It had that feeling that every single reference mixed in spoke directly to me, brethren, tribe, some would say. 

Then he did a bit about the band, Rush. And I realized this author was only human. We were not separated at birth. (Editor's note: I hate Rush. I just do, sorry, not my cup of tea.) It's okay, by the way, it did not pull me out of the book, it just reminded me that my alter ego did not write this story while I was sleeping and submit it under a false name.


So, aside from that one, minor point, I found Cline's book to be totally entertaining, hysterically funny, a creative whirlwind, and it is a book I've been recommending all over town.

All the while, the professional me, whose done a bit of licensing in my day, imaged just how challenging it would be to pull off that end of this book, as I've read it's going to be made into a film (I believe film rights have been sold and this is in early development) With practically every major fantasy and science fiction film, comic book, and video game mentioned (not to mention lots of music), I don't want the licensing clearance job on that project. (whew!)

In conclusion--a really fun book. My only criticism is that if you are not someone interested in the culture of the 1980s, comic books, video games, fantasy novels, John Hues movies, pop music, and all things related, you might not be interested in the slightest. For the rest of us, it's a damn good time.

Comments

Kerry said…
Gotta love alter-ego authors, right? Sadly, I think most of the 80s references would go over my head, seeing as I only lived through half of that decade and was too young to appreciate anything pop culture beyond Kidpix and Sesame Street. Still, sounds like a well-done novel (but for the Rush bits).
A Shadow Falls said…
The review put me in mind of Charles Stross' book, Halting State. I think it's probably just the near future time frame and that Halting State incorporates the gaming world. Either way, the review has definitely put this on my reading list. Looking forward to it :)
Jayf said…
Hi David,
Thanks for your comment on my post (I really need to update the blog). And thanks for the Stross mention, I've been meaning to read Halting State and now it's officially added to the list.

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