Saturday, 6 January 2018

{Reviewed by STELLA}

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline will take you on a wild ride into a virtual world. It’s the year 2044 and everyone is ‘living’ inside the internet. The world has gone to custard - resources are limited, the climate is wrecked, war, poverty and disease are widespread - and our hero Wade Watts understandably prefers the OASIS. Created by super-clever James Halliday, this virtual utopia offers both rich and poor a better choice. Hook yourself in - visor, haptic gloves and a good internet connection - and life vastly improves, and, if you are Wade, removed from the Stack (a sprawling trailer-park city where units are literally stacked up). On-line you can be anyone you want to be, but money is still an issue - the wealthier you are, the more credits you can get and the further you can go. Wade is poor, so he spends most of his time on planet Lundus, at his virtual reality school or catching a lift with some of his wealthier friends to a nearby sphere where his comparatively low experience level avatar Parcival (he’s still weapons- and magic-poor when we meet him) won’t be killed. Parcival (like the knight, except someone got the correct spelling before him) is keen to hone his skills, and the perfect opportunity arises when James Halliday dies and sets the ultimate challenge - an Easter egg hunt which involves keys, gates and much puzzle-solving. The reward is ownership of the OASIS, a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Wade/ Parcival, a fan of 80s gaming and pop culture, knows this could be the key to getting out of the Stacks. But everyone wants it and only the best gunters (game-hunters) will make it. Add to this an internet corporate IOI (who have numerous resources at their fingertips) who want to monetise the virtual world, and life becomes very dangerous, especially when Parcival finds the first key (after five fruitless years) ahead of everyone else and tops the scoreboard. Life changes for Wade as he finds himself in the way of IOI and possibly quite a few fellow gunters. He packs up and heads for obscurity - safety in a small apartment - vowing not to leave until he cracks all levels. But who can he trust, fellow gunters Art3mis or Aech? And will IOI track him down? If you like dystopias, gaming and 80s pop culture you are in for a treat: high jinks in the virtual world where the desire for power is as potent as ever.
PS: the film is out soon!


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