Did you take Teen Beat quizzes in the 80’s? Did you cheat so you could be a Ferris or were you honest and turned out you were a Duckie? Did you have the fashion sense of Claire Standish of the Breakfast Club or were you more Andie Walsh of Pretty in Pink? Did you live on the streets in a John Hughes film, jump back to a happier time with Zemeckis or fantasize your way through a Donner world? Were you one of the Lost Boys or one of the Goonies? Was it your dream to skip school for a day or be locked in Saturday detention? How many quarters did you lose to Donkey Kong before heading home to play Pac-Man on your Atari 2600? Bring back a few memories? Maybe this was all just last week for you.
I just hopped a DeLorean ride to the past to re-experience the spring and summer of 2011 when Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was released (08.16.2011, Random House, Inc.). On the night of Thursday, May 12th my husband, Mad Dog had taken a night out in Boston to meet Cline thanks to a Random House release party. Since that night, the Ready Player One galley sat on my 2011 self’s nightstand waiting to be apart of my summer reading list. It wasn’t until our vacation in Maine that July would I have the opportunity to start the book. A book my 2011 self could honestly say she started and didn’t want to put down, to the point where she asked her Mad Dog to read to her one night when her eyes were too heavy to continue, but her mind was still begging for more.
The book follows Wade – if you need a description, a genuine super geek. Wade lives in a dismal future of 2044 where the world escapes it’s grim reality in the OASIS. An interactive utopia where Wade becomes a real life Charlie and the OASIS is his chocolate factory. Like Wonka, OASIS creator James Halliday has created a contest that captured the minds and dreams of millions as they look for golden ticket of their time or in this case the puzzle that will unlock the start of the “Hunt” which will bring massive fortune and power to the final winner. What makes Halliday’s quest interesting is that it’s all based on the culture of the late-twentieth century (aka the 80’s).
For me, and I believe Mad Dog, this book took us on a “Strange Days” version of our childhood. It was like stepping into my junior high bedroom and capturing just about everything I grew up on. Of course as teens we didn’t know the good stuff from the bad until much later, and this book capitalizes on that. It takes the best and makes them better and pulls those forgotten jewels out for another look. Reminding us we didn’t watch something on cable a hundred times and learn every single line with inflection for nothing. You’ll honestly be running to buy, rent or stream just about everything mentioned in the book and discover some missed gems as you do so.
The book itself gives me a feel, and this will probably sound odd but it gives me the feel of a choose your own adventure book written by a 12 year old. This is not that the book is juvenile – that is not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is the book was written with the same love and care bordering on the side of reverence for each writer, filmmaker, actor, musician, programmer, geek and game designer mentioned in the book. All whom Cline thanks in his acknowledgements in the end. It’s a love letter to a time when fashion was always questionable, you never should judged ‘Loser’ by their cover and a gamer always had time to play a game when asked.
Fast forward to June 2014 and me sitting in front of my computer trying to pull together a Summer Reading post for ActsofGeek.com. I didn’t have to rack my brain too long to think of that summer in 2011 when I sat on the lake reading Ready Player One. It was somewhat of an easy pick for my recent favorites in Book ‘Em Danno. Even after all this time (budget willing) I would like to buy everyone I know a copy of this book. Okay – maybe not everyone, but that said if you haven’t read it you should. A quick thank you to Cline for channeling his inner 12 year-old geek. Oh and I have to thank my husband Mad Dog for pushing the book under my nose every time I finished a new book. I know I should listen to you more Mad Dog, you’re haven’t done me wrong yet.