After all, it’s not often that a book arrives that wallows and revels in geekdom without being patronizing, shallow or in any other way bothersome.
Ready Player One sets out to explore the eighties, from a decidedly geeky viewpoint, but with a great eye for the mainstream culture as well. After all, in those days of the monoculture the mainstream was so ubiquitous even the steadfastest subculture-dwellers had no way to avoid it.
The book is a treasure hunt, a fact that is made obvious from its very beginning. But it’s not a conventional treasure hunt – success requires skill in videogames, memorization of movie dialogue and the ability to thoroughly think outside of the box. A beautiful multi-layered puzzle, that manages to delight and rouse interest as the protagonist stumbles through its labyrinth.
As is common in labours of love, the chase is better than the catch – and the finale of Ready Player One sadly dips from the lofty heights established by the preceding pages. But it does not dip much, and provides good closure on the plot and pretty much cements the fact that no sequel is forthcoming.
Ready Player One was movie-optioned by Sony pretty much instantly, but I’m skeptical about its chances. While the book is free to namedrop and utilize cultural references at every step, actually clearing those films and songs would be a massive undertaking. Also, the book is thick, and the story far from straightforward, hence trying to fit the 400+ pages into a movie of conventional length would require massive alterations.