I used to read dystopian novels regularly believing they gave insight into the problems of our current world as well as hints of a difficult future if we didn’t pay attention. Ready Player One also fills this role but makes it all so much more fun than the average tale of dystopian hardships. Ernest Cline’s novel is set in a dismal future that has turned the global population toward a virtual computer-generated OASIS to escape the filth, crowding and poverty of reality. When the creator of this online universe dies, his will offers his entire fortune to the online player who can solve his puzzles first. Thus the entire planet shifts its focus to this quest of a lifetime and who might win control of this powerful, created electronic world.
While the title and theme sound like readers should be fans of online games, the true target is more likely fans of the 1980s with a very reverent salute to the geeks and nerds among us. For those of us who actually were around to experience some of that era, this book is like a giant scrap book filled with past images that will surprise all but the most avid '80s aficionados. Don’t get stuck in chapter two or three where the catalog of references gets a bit bulky—the pace picks up right after that and you will have a hard time putting down this Zambezi Zinger ride of a book. Just like the coaster, you won't want it to end!
Ready Player One does something that many dystopias of the past have not. While it paints a picture of some believable challenges that a possible future could face, it offers hope rather than just survival--as well as one tremendously fun ride.