A pixelated video game character getting a key to a gate with monsters coming towards them

About the Book

Title: Ready Player One (Ready Player One #1)
Published: 2011

Cover Story: I Love!
BFF Charm: Sure
Talky Talk: L33t Speak
Bonus Factors: The Westing Game, The Eighties, Video Games
Relationship Status: I Want To Hang Out In Your Basement Forever

Cover Story: I Love!

I love this cover so much. I want to pet it and hug it and cuddle it. I love the retro pixelated avatar near the key and the gate (which are actually completely related to the story!) The hardcover version is different, and it’s okay, but not nearly as lovable as the version I had.

The Deal:

The future isn’t very bright for Wade Watts. It’s the year 2044 and the world is steadily circling down the toilet. A combination of global warming and our dependence on fossil fuels (which have more or less run out by this time) has led even the most wealthy countries to become overrun by poverty, famine and unemployment. Wade lives with his horrible aunt on the top of a “stack” – rows of mobile homes stacked one on top of each other that surround most major US cities. Wade’s only escape is to spend all of his time in OASIS, an online virtual platform that almost the entire world (those who can afford it, anyway) is connected to. When the reclusive billionaire creator of OASIS died, he pledged his entire fortune to the first person to discover an easter egg he left buried in the game. When Wade discovers the first key to the prize, he has no idea just how much this discovery will change his whole life.

BFF Charm: Sure

Yay BFF Charm

Awww, poor Wade! He seriously has it rough. He is dirt poor and socially awkward with no real friends or family (at least not any family worth a damn). When given the chance to attend school within OASIS, he jumps at the chance because real life school was just one constant struggle. He starts off Halliday’s quest at a serious disadvantage compared to the other treasure seekers, but he doesn’t let that discourage him. His obsessions can be a little all consuming, but that’s pretty understandable given how miserable the real world is. I would totally love to cruise around OASIS with Wade and spend time with him in the chat rooms. His extreme nerdiness may be a turn off to some readers, but I’ve built up a pretty high tolerance for geekery (how else would I hang out with myself?) And it doesn’t hurt that Wade is pretty brave and selfless in the face of danger.

I’m also extended a BFF charm to Wade’s virtual best (and only) friend Aech. Aech is all sorts of awesome and I think would be a blast to spend time with.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Wade finds himself a love interest in follow easter egg hunter Art3mis. And while I like Art3mis, I think Wade’s crush (read: obsession) with her doesn’t bring out his best qualities. He is a 17 year old is his first semi-relationship, so unfortunately the all-consuming nature of it, the awkwardness and the smothering go with the territory. Wade, learn to accept/love yourself first and you’ll do so much better with the ladies!

Talky Talk: L33t Speak

This book combines a massive amount of pop-culture references with teens who are constantly trying to one-up each other. Often the conversation between characters devolves into scenes that are eerily familiar to my own life. Take for instant, this interaction between Wade and his friend Aech on the topic of the movie Ladyhawke:

“It’s fucking lame, is what it is! The swords look like they were made out of tinfoil. And that sound track is epically lame. Full of synthesizers and shit. By the motherfucking Alan Parsons Project! Lame-o-rama! Beyond lame. Highlander II lame.”

“You must be stoned!” I shouted. “Ladyhawke was directed by Richard fucking Donner! The Goonies? Superman: The Movie? You’re saying that guy sucks?”

“I don’t care if Spielberg directed it. It’s a chick flick disguised as a sword-and-sorcery picture. The only genre film with less balls is probably…freakin’ Legend. Anyway who actually enjoys Ladyhawke is a bona fide USDA-choice pussy!”

Overall, the conversations are fun and the narrative breezy.

Bonus Factor: The Westing Game

the cover of the Westing Game book, a mansion made of dollar bills

OASIS creator James Halliday died a billionaire recluse with no family or close friends to leave his money behind to. So he creates a contest that anyone in the world (with OASIS access) can participate in. The clues are vague and the challenges are extremely difficult. And as Wade journied through the various obstacles, I couldn’t help but think about The Westing Game. Clues left behind by dead people in a race to inherit a fortune? That plot line just works for me and I found myself speeding through the book so I could read about Wade solving the next clue.

Bonus Factor: The Eighties

A cassette tape that says "the '80s" on it

James Halliday was obsessed with the 1980s, which was the decade he grew up in. Everyone serious about searching for Halliday’s easter egg had to do major research into his favorite books, movies, music and video games. The book is heavily littered with references to some of the best (and nerdiest) 80s pop culture. So if you’re like I am and Just Can’t Get Enough (see what I did there?) of the 80s, this will be a fun nostalgia trip.

Bonus Factor: Video Games

Close up of the buttons on a video game machine from the '80s

Video games! I am so excited to finally get to have this as a bonus factor! OASIS is like Second Life + World of Warcraft + virtual reality x infinity. Most of the games Wade has to play for his easter egg quest are a bit before my time (coin-op and Atari) but I still enjoyed the important role they played in Halliday’s challenges.

Relationship Status: I Want To Hang Out In Your Basement Forever

I had so much fun with this book. Like, ignore other people just so I could keep spending more time with this book kind of fun. This is the kind of book you want to hang out with everyday, after school, geeking out about everything and nothing, for hours on end. This book is that friend that is constantly introducing you to cool books and movies that you’ve never heard of or never thought you’d like. No, this isn’t the friend you go to with your girlfriend/boyfriend drama or go to for real life advice. But this is the friend you stay up with all night long, eating pizza and drinking disgusting energy drinks with. This friend is awesome.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Crown Publishing via Wunderkind PR. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Ready Player One is available now.

Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.