Once upon a time I was an avid reader. Life got in the way for a while and I put the books down. A recent change in circumstance means I have more spare time once and I have been bitten by the bug again.
Such a simple idea - a strange thing to say about a book set in virtual worlds far in advance of anything we are capable of achieving today technologically, but I stand by it.
So simple in fact that people like me around the world will no doubt read it and kick themselves for not thinking of it first.
Scratching the itch so many of us have for a hidden mystery it borrows heavily from many sources - some blatantly given its mechanic of using material from old video games, films and TV shows to push the story along - and rewards the observant reader with pop culture references that make your heart soar just a little when you are one of the lucky ones that 'get them'.
In the majority of cases I could relate - the film references, western TV nods and video game love all hit home to me perfectly, less so the anime and samurai stuff as these were things that never appealed in my eighties childhood, but Ready Player One came about as close as a book ever has to making me feel like it was 'written just for me'. Skilful.
I imagine that in conversation with Ernest Cline he would divulge that his less obvious influences were things like Roald Dahl's wonderful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which does get a fleeting mention), Tron (which incredibly, doesn't) and even Family Guy - again, all things which resonate with me personally.
That said, there were times when I felt the story was, while not perhaps lazy, a little underdeveloped and safe - in the hands of a Spielberg-esque storyteller I can only wonder about where the story would have taken me. As it stands I came away feeling 'I could have written that, God damn it', assuming of course I had the idea in the first place, which I never did.
I have high hopes for the author though and eagerly await his next offering - maybe in time he will grow into one of his generation's master high concept storytellers. I certainly hope so.
I will also make a point to watch Fanboys now, which I have had for a while but never got around to. I bought this after taking an interest in Jay Baruchel and had never heard of Ernest Cline - happily this means checking out his other significant work of note to date is as simple as clicking play.