Welcome to this week’s big fiction debut, and it could not be more suited to young adult readers. For the gamers and science fiction fans (but not only the gamers and science fiction fans) in your library, this is likely to be the book of the year. With a place on several best of the month lists, including the Entertainment Weekly Must List, they may well come looking for it.
I had a chance to hear Ernie Cline speak at BookExpo. He seems quite humble, with a self-effacing manner and quiet sense of humor. Cline is a screenwriter, so he began with a quick anecdote about loving his public library as a kid — where his usual check-outs included a pile of VHS tapes and one book. He was inspired to write a book after writing screenplays that never ended up on screen as they were in his mind. He described having a movie produced as “soul-crushing” (referring to Fanboys). With a book there would be nothing between him and his audience. Every line delivery would be perfect, every set exactly as he imagined. Ironically, the day after he sold Ready Player One to Random House, he also sold the film rights to Warner Bros. Let’s assume he will have a little more creative control this time!
Cline talks about believing that an author should write the book he or she really wants to read, and it seems like he has accomplished just that. For more, check out this interview on Wired, and the BoingBoing video interview on Youtube. Cline’s blog is fun, too — that DeLorean sure brings back memories. Back to the Future, anyone?
CLINE, Ernest. Ready Player One: A Novel. 384p. charts. diags. maps. photos. reprods. appendix. bibliog. chron. glossary. index. notes. score. Crown. Apr. 2011. Tr $24. ISBN 978-0-307-88743-6. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Cline has written a slam-dunk adult novel with teen appeal. He has said that his inspiration came from imagining if Willie Wonka were a video game designer rather than a candy maker, and that’s the best description of this creatively offbeat book. In the not-so-distant future, Earth has become a ruin and most people spend their lives as avatars in OASIS, a virtual reality sci-fi world. When its founder dies, he leaves behind a contest involving solving puzzles and mastering tasks based on the movies, music, and video games of the 1980s. Each challenge leads to three keys that will open three gates in turn. The first to succeed will become the richest person on Earth and gain control of OASIS. Three teens, Parzival, Art3mis, and Aech, have the best chance of winning because of their skills and knowledge, but they must defeat the evil conglomerate that will stop at nothing to win the prize. Fast paced and sharply smart, the narrative is never assuming so that exposition of the virtual world is interesting and comprehensible. Because this is essentially a quest novel, anyone who loves heroes (or villains) will enjoy this adventure. For those in the know, Cline fills the story with Easter Eggs of his own (love the shout-out to Cory Doctorow). For techies, gamers and ‘80’s fans, this story may gain cult status and have the staying power of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.–Priscille Dando, Robert E. Lee High School, Fairfax County, VA