Ready Player One is a love letter to the ’80s, as writ by Ernest Cline. Behold: near every cultural product of the ’80s, referenced with care, as told by someone who grew up during that period. This, too, was a part of my childhood; but whereas I was a passive consumer of culture as a tot, this book is aimed more at those who were school-age or older, whose experiences were more tangible than my own. This is for the geeks of that era, who knew those games and that trivia by heart, because that was their culture — their life.
I was annoyed by the terse, almost Hemingway-esque prose and by the focus on memorization at first, until I was reminded that memorization of stuff was more of a pastime at that time than it is now. To win at more than a few games took that skill — one which has never been my own.
It wasn’t until I had read Ready Player One through, and reflected on my own experiences during the time period and those of people I knew that I really enjoyed the book and could understand it wholly for what it is. It takes the games of that era, and the hopes and dreams and fears of those kids, and combines it with an understanding of modern technology, politics, and dystopia, turning that on its head to offer something important once again… hope.
Ready Player One took me about seven hours to read; the first two hours were the worst for me, but a lot of folks don’t have the trouble getting into it that I did (I do like more descriptive prose). And while I was dismissive of it at first, the more I reflect upon it, the more nuance I find to it; and it stands up well to repeated reading.