2014top10: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the weeks running up to New Year I’m going to post reviews of the best ten books I read this year. They will be in no particular order until the final one which is my favourite of them all.

As it stands they include four YA books, three adult, one fantasy and a graphic novel (ish). 70% of them are written by women, two are debuts and all bar three have been newly published in the UK this year. One of them is a hardback I lugged around for a few weeks, one I read in an hour, another I read twice in three hours and one of them is the most challenging books I’ve read this year.

They’re my favourites because of what they say, how I came across them, who gave them to me, how I felt reading them, their writing and how I remember them.

ready player one

I don’t know what drew me to Ready Player One. Maybe it was the cover or the odd comment about how brilliant it is, but at one point earlier this year, I found myself reading a book I wouldn’t normally have picked up and being utterly captivated by it. It’s one of the funnest books I’ve read in a long time. The world Ernest Cline has created is bizarre because it’s part reality and part a gigantic online game which has pretty much taken over the world. People attend schools in virtual reality and can create entire planets to escape the bleak world they now live in. Wade Watts is one of these people escaping to OASIS, and is also a gunter; someone hell-bent on solving the game within OASIS its creator James Halliday created before he died. Whoever solves it wins Halliday’s trillion-dollar fortune and ownership of OASIS. It’s been five years, and no one has come close to solving even the first clue.

As you might imagine, Wade manages to solve it the first clue and starts a race between himself, other gunters and IOI, the company looking to monetise OASIS. It’s a thrilling read and I’m sure there are a number of references those interested in gaming will get, but Ernest Cline has succeeded in writing a book that welcomes gamers and non-gamers alike. The only references to games I’m ever like to pick up on are ones about Spyro Gateway to Glimmer, but it doesn’t take anything away from this really quite astonishing debut.

I’ve heard a film is in the works and honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. Whilst I would love to see a film adaptation of Ready Player One, how it would be done is a mystery. The majority of the story takes place in OASIS where everyone has an avatar and it’s only about a quarter set in the “real” world, as it were. I hope it’s good. The book deserves an excellent adaptation.

This is another book my friend (same one as before) is holding hostage and it’s probably just as well in this case because I would read it over and over until I knew it off by heart. That’s not a bad thing really, but there are thousands of books out there to read so as long as she’s got it, I won’t be distracted. At some point I’m going to demand it back, and I look forward to getting completely lost in Ernest’s world again. Award for best world created in 2014 definitely goes to Ernest.

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