“Continue your quest by taking the test. Yes, but what test? What test was I supposed to take? The Kobayashi Maru? The Pepsi Challenge? Could the clue have been any more vague?”
Ready Player One is an 80s geek child’s dream book. If you love Atari, pop culture, 80s movies and music, then you will love the hours of geeking out this book provides. The story opens in the not so distant future where global warming has increased exponentially and the recession has deepened into a depression, making it a bleak and poverty ridden place to exist. Thankfully, there is an alternative, a Virtual Reality world called OASIS created by a very talented game designer named James Halliday. OASIS provides a whole universe where education is free, entertainment abounds, thousands of worlds exist for gamers to explore, quests to beat and even the ability to build and live in homes there. Everyone on earth buys a pair of gloves, a visor and plugs in to this virtual world to ignore the decay and destruction of earth. Halliday, already rich, becomes the richest man on the planet. When Halliday dies, he leaves behind no heirs, so he makes a video which introduces a grand game. The game starts with a riddle, which leads to the first of three keys. Each key will open gates that have challenges the searcher must beat. The entire quest ends in finding an egg which gives the winner Halliday’s entire fortune and control of OASIS.
Since Halliday was an 80s teen and a gamer, all the challenges have to do with 80s music, video games, pop culture or gaming. The world becomes obsessed with that decade and an 80s revival occurs as everyone studies up to find the first key. Years pass, no one find anything, the hunt dies down except for the hardcore egg hunters, ‘gunters’ for short. Here is where our hero comes into the picture. A young man in high school, exceptionally smart (and geeky) living in a trailer park with his abusive aunt in one of the many slums on earth. He has been studying and searching for the first key for five years with the rest of the world, but then, suddenly, he actually finds it. And now, the adventure begins.
I admit, as a 80s baby I have always loved the 80s. It is my belief that all us 80s children miss the 80s and everyone who wasn’t born in the 80s, just wishes they were. The fashionable socks, the ridiculous hair styles, the jammin’ tunes and most of all.. the awesome movie montages. Growing up with The Goblin King, Ferris Buller, Claire Standish, Marty McFly, Peter Venkman, Atreyu, The Three Amigos, Tootsie, The Terminator, E.T., The Dread Pirate Roberts, Indiana Jones, Officer John McClane and so many more made me a hardcore lover of all things 80s. As I got older, my love of 80s movies morphed into an all compassing love of the decade to include original Atari games and 80s jams. My little sister still gives me weird looks when Tears for Fears blasts out of my iPod, but then, she was born in 1987 and never embraced that decade as I felt she rightfully should.
This book, for me, was page after page of just plain fun. Who doesn’t want to experience a world where you can buy and restore a DeLorean? Model your home after those in the classic 80s tv shows? Experience your favorite Atari games from inside the game itself?
Not only is this book brain candy for anyone who is a geek, but the story itself is fast paced and engaging. I was fully invested in the characters, the game, OASIS and every moment of every plot twist. Regardless of whether you are an 80s fanatic wearing high tops, a trench coat and holding your boom box outside of your girlfriends room to play ‘In Your Eyes’, or just someone who loves books, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this adventure.
But I do recommend wearing high tops anyway, they’re just so darn stylish.