Do you know what a lich is? If someone taunts you with, "Answer the question, Claire," who are you being compared to? (Extra points: what's the question?) What will an oscillation overthruster allow you to do? And have you ever found yourself in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike?
A stray facetious comment worked its way into a discussion about the popularity of teen fiction among adult readers a while ago. "What about YA novels that are written just for adults?" I'm paraphrasing, I don't remember the exact wording. Just an offhand jokey comment, right?
But then I read Ready Player One. Ready Player One is a virtual reality adventure with a teen protagonist, a love interest, and a wing man. Our isolated, socially awkward hero must work his way through riddles and duels to win keys, open gates, and sort of save the world; and along the way he will develop leadership skills, learn to work with others, and listen to his instincts. Classic YA plotline.
But this book is not for teens.
Not because there's bad language (in fact there's not enough bad language to make this book suitable for teens), or sex, or complicated themes involving generational anguish or crippling guilt. None of that. No, this book is for adults - this book is for ME - because the quest that it follows is set entirely in a 1980's pop-culture hurricane. Characters have to play a perfect game of Pac-Man; recite every line of Matthew Broderick's dialogue in WarGames. I counted as many as three different references in once sentence.
And you know what? It's not obnoxious. It's not 'look how clever I am,' instead, it is 'Oh my god do I really know every line of Real Genius? I'm so ashamed. But it's so funny! I think I'll watch it again.' Ernest Cline made the movie Fanboys, which, yes, I'll watch almost as many times as I've watched WarGames.
Sigh. A YA novel written just for me.