Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Ready Player One

A book that has taken the reviewer community by storm in recent years is Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, a hybrid of "The Matrix," "Tron" and "Willy Wonka." The story involves a Midwestern teenager who spends his days in a virtual reality world called the OASIS because the real one has succumbed to catastrophe. He hopes for a better future by participating in the OASIS treasure hunt, created by the its deceased creator. After stumbling onto the first clue, it's a race against time, corporate interests and other players to find the treasure.

The primary characters are teens, but calling the novel another dystopian YA book would be selling it short because of its timely themes. People around the world want to escape into a virtual reality whether it be the Internet or the novel's OASIS. We create online profiles of ourselves, promoting our best qualities and doing our best to hide the less-than-good ones. There's also a running plot about a nefarious corporation trying to control the OASIS and given the ongoing furor of net neutrality, the timing is perfect. Cline delves into these ideas and wraps them in a fun action-adventure package rife with 1980's and early video game references. As someone who was born in the late 80's, I got most of the references, but some flew over my head. The plot and the worlds were very well-constructed and with a minor exception or two, there wasn't anything that seemed out of place or not cohesive with the overall storyline. There's also a romance subplot that serves the story well, but doesn't feel shoehorned in for the sake of having a love story. As a result, the book is accessible to a much wider audience.

Ready Player One is one of the better fiction books I've read in a while and is the best I've read this year. Grab a copy and enjoy the ride. Rating: 4/5 stars

As one may expect, a film version is in the works. Cline sold the rights to producer Don De Line and Warner Bros. after a fierce bidding war that included at least five studios and production companies. De Line worked on films like "The Italian Job," "Green Lantern" and "Pain and Gain." Cline wrote the first draft of the screenplay, but Zak Penn was commissioned to rewrite the script this summer and get it closer to a point where the studio can start hiring a director and begin production, according to Hollywood blog The Wrap. Warners' 2015 and early 2016 slate is mostly booked and considering the many effects that would be involved in recreating the OASIS, I can't imagine the movie version to come out any earlier than late 2016 or 2017.

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