Welcome to the first installment of PuzzleNation Book Reviews!
All of the books discussed and/or reviewed in PNBR (PBR?) articles are either directly or indirectly related to the world of puzzling, and hopefully you’ll find something to tickle your literary fancy in this entry or the entries to come.
Let’s get started!
Our inaugural book review blog post features Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One.
Set in a world not too far in the future, Ready Player One introduces the OASIS, the next generation of videogaming and virtual interactivity. The OASIS allows you to go to school, escape from reality, and go on gaming quests, all from the comfort of home. The impoverished and generally frustrated Wade is just one of the OASIS’s many users, but his lack of funds keeps him from indulging in many of the more lavish adventures and activities available to others in the OASIS.
But things change when James Halliday, the co-creator of the OASIS, dies, leaving a challenge in his will for his fans and followers: find three keys hidden within the OASIS. Whomever finds these Easter Eggs will be granted total control of Halliday’s fortune AND company.
Wade and many of his fellow gamers know that finding the three keys might be the only way to avert a corporate attempt to monetize and economically subjugate the OASIS. Can Wade or one of his fellow gamers find the keys and save the OASIS?
Ready Player One is an outstanding debut novel, capturing the excitement and spirit of both RPGs and videogames, as well as the curious nature of Internet-bred friendships, all wrapped up in a terrifically fun adventure tale.
Both utopian and dystopian in spirit, Ready Player One is confident enough to invest time in the backstory of both Halliday and the world at large, giving the reader plenty of time to acclimate and become invested in Wade’s quest. I was quickly hooked by the intriguing world-building both inside and outside the OASIS.
But amidst the videogame trappings and ’80s pop culture references — cleverly employed as an obsession of the players, allowing them to feel vintage, rather than dated — there is an undeniable puzzly spirit at the heart of the novel: solving riddles.
Halliday leaves a riddle as the clue to unravel in order to locate the first key. Riddles continue to pop up, daring both the characters and the readers to find the solution. (Not only that, but the book itself offered a challenge for sharp-eyed readers, and one skilled puzzler won a DeLorean after solving the embedded puzzle.)
With plenty to keep puzzle fans, gamers, and pop culture aficionados engaged, Ready Player One is a terrific read. One of my favorites from the past year.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the first installment of PuzzleNation Book Reviews, and I look forward to more book discussions in the future. In the meantime, keep calm, puzzle on, and I’ll catch you later.