I finally had a chance to indulge my geek bone and read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I had been looking forward to reading it for some time, and when I finally had the book in my hands I literally swallowed it. It got me as hooked as proper geeks are when they play WoW (or me when I play HoMM 3)...
The novel is set in 2044, a time where most people spend large parts of their time connected to the virtual world OASIS. Escaping into this virutal reality beats the poverty and environmental crisis the world as a whole is in. OASIS' creator, James Halliday, recently died, and in his will he left all his riches to whoever manages to find the "easter egg" he has hidden somewhere inside OASIS. To find the egg, the "player" first has to find three keys that open three gates. The race has begun.
We follow Wade, or Parzival, which is his OASIS name, the teenager who finds the first key. Wade is almost like Charlie from the Roald Dahl stories, in that he is the poor kid who is introduced to the wonders of the "chocolate factory", or in this case, the OASIS universe. Wade is a proper geek who, like all the other egg hunters, have perused all the tidbits of clues and information left behind by Halliday. Halliday had an extreme nostalgia for the 80s, and so the contestants watch endless hours of shows and movies from the 80s, play all the video games, listen to the music and read all the comics. Un/fortunately I was born in the 80s, so I can't say that I remember all the references, but I still throroughly all the "geeking" about rare editions of computer games played on a RHS 80 (or something!).
But searching for the egg is not all fun and games (pun intended). One group, the sixers (or Suxorz) work for a corporation who wishes to take control of OASIS and destroy Halliday's vision of a free virtual world for everyone. The sixers will do anything to find the egg and win the competition. The other egg hunters ("gunters"), and especially our own Wade, seems to be fighting Goliath in the attempt to beat the sixers to it.
What really appealed to me about this novel was the quests and how the mysteries around the clues were solved. Often the characters have to play games within the game. Games they had played outside, but which now appeared around them again, inside OASIS. There is also a strong linke between sci-fi and fantasy brought on from the magical elements that are allowed in some parts of OASIS.
I also enjoyed some of the other characters in the book. Wade has a few OASIS friends, Art3mis and Aech, who he only knows through OASIS, and who are his closest allies in the search for the egg.
I don't want to say too much about this book. It's kind of a mash between Tron, the Matrix and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and prolly lotsa other Sci-fi references I can't think of right now). It's primarily an experience to read, it really takes you for a pleasure ride through popular culture of the 80s. It kind of feels like watching a computer game, but there's so much in it! My only problem with it, was that there could have been a bit more violence. Hello! It's meant to be a bit like a video game! (I guess the video games of the 80s weren't all that violent to begin with).
Anywho. If u have a geek bone in your body, you just have to read this book. And watch out for the movie. which should be out in 2012 or 2013. I hope they make it R-rated, because that'd be soooo kewl!