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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline, Will Wheaton (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,9374371,304 (4.21)3 / 479
Title:Ready Player One
Authors:Ernest Cline
Other authors:Will Wheaton (Narrator)
Info:audible.com from Random House Audio, 15 hrs. 46 min.
Collections:Your library
Tags:audiobook, audible.com, Wil Wheaton, dystopia, virtual utopia, coming-of-age, geeks, 1980s

Work details

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Author) (2011)

  1. 202
    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2seven)
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    Neuromancer by William Gibson (jbgryphon)
    jbgryphon: Gibson's Matrix and Stephenson's Metaverse are as much the basis for OASIS as any of the geek universes that are included in it.
  3. 100
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (jbgryphon)
    jbgryphon: RPO's OASIS owes it's existence as much to Neil Stephenson's Metaverse as to the miriad of geek universes that are included in it.
  4. 81
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    sturlington: Ready Player One reminded me of a grown-up version of this classic.
  11. 32
    The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (GD2020)
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    Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (erikrebooted)
    erikrebooted: Another cyberpunk story set decades in the future, but one that revolves around Disney World rather than the 1980s.
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English (431)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (436)
Showing 1-5 of 431 (next | show all)
[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]

Okay, so this book is basically a young (male) geek’s ultimate dream — from the smart, down-on-his-luck orphan protagonist to the kickass gamer girl who’s really only there to be a love interest to the impossible quests the protagonist somehow keeps winning despite all odds. Premise-wise, there is very little about this book that strays outside of today’s common “boy hero” tropes, and if it wasn’t for the incredible world-building and downright zany plot, Ready Player One would have fallen flatter than a pancake for me.

As it stands, I found this a pretty fun (but sometimes tedious) read.

Firstly, you need to be aware that this book contains more pop culture references than any other book you will ever read in your life. Video games. TV. Movies. Anime. Books. You name it, it’s in this story — and all of it is focused on the 80s. So, if you were born later than that, prepare to be lost on many occasions when the story goes off on a tangent regarding some piece of 80s trivia you are completely unaware of. Don’t worry, though, because most of the time the nature of the trivia in question is explained in detail.

Which brings me to my biggest criticism of the book — I think it’s best I get this out of the way early: this story suffers from a horrific amount of info-dumping. In my opinion, an unacceptable amount of info-dumping. Dumping that goes on for pages and pages and pages, to the point where it’s often easy to lose track of what’s actually happening with the plot because said plot has come to a virtual standstill. There are info-dumps as filler, info-dumps in the middle of action scenes, info-dumps at pivotal moments. Info-dumps. Info-dumps. Info-dumps. Everywhere!

And every last one is an in-depth explanation about an element of 80s pop culture the average person has no desire to know.

You’ve been warned.

If that doesn’t throw you off attempting this book, though, then let’s move on.

Despite the info-dumpy nature of the narrative, it actually proves to be a fairly fun read as time goes on. The OASIS contains so many elements from so many shows, movies, books, anime, etc. all combined into one, massive world that you’ll have a hard time not smiling at the abundance of references strewn about as the plot progresses. Reading some of the battle scenes made my day — because, more often than not, the battles involved objects from a variety of fiction I was familiar with. Picturing such vastly different things being involved in the same fights amused me to no end.

The OASIS in this book is basically a simultaneous crossover of every single piece of fiction (across all mediums) ever created. It’s pretty fascinating. And makes for a great setting for the majority of the book.

The characters, on the other hand, were a little lacking in the originality department. I didn’t like how Art3mis ended up relegated to love interest more and more as the book went on. I didn’t like how shallow and underdeveloped most of the major characters were. The bad guys were the fairly generic “evil corporation” types often present in cyberpunk and other futuristic sci-fi; there wasn’t anything particularly special about Sorrento or his vast, anonymous army of Sixers.

That being said, however, I did think the main characters made for an interesting gang of heroes (even with their lack of development), and the final showdown against the antagonists is pretty spectacular (even with their generic nature).

Overall, I found this book a mixed bag — in the end, it was an enjoyable read, but there were a lot of parts (i.e., the info-dumps) I found tedious to get through, to the point where I occasionally ended up skimming a few passages here and there. The plot fulfills the premise in an unfortunately straightforward way and doesn’t deviate at all from some pretty tired tropes about boy heroes and rags-to-riches stories; despite this issue, though, it still builds a fairly interesting and engaging narrative. Lastly, the characters are lacking in a lot of ways, but, thanks largely to the amazing setting, are able to hold interest throughout the story.

A decent read, in my opinion, but nothing to write home about. ( )
  TherinKnite | Dec 11, 2014 |
This book at first was fantastic. I loved the eighties theme and the references were cool (in a geeky way). But the ending fizzled where I wanted it to entertain. It was a disappointment. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
The concept of the virtual reality contest is a good one. I didn't think the author would be able to make it intense because it is virtual reality, but he did well at raising the stakes. ( )
  SebastianHagelstein | Nov 30, 2014 |
This book is like reading an adaptation of Tron, meets Hackers, meets War Games, meets VH1's Pop Up Video. If you like the 1980s and/or Sci-Fi, this is the book for you!

In the future, the internet has become a completely Virtual Reality, interactive experience: you work, play, go to school (if you're lucky) online. And it's ll thanks to the genius of James Halliday. When Halliday passes away, he leaves a message and an Easter egg behind somewhere in the vastness of the internet, now dubbed the OASIS, and the one who finds it will inherit the rights to the whole shebang.

We follow the life and story of the avatar known as Parzival, real world name Wade. Parzival, or "Z", as his best friend calls him, is a poor senior who lives and breathes the world of the OASIS and the search for the Halliday Egg. He is what they call a Gunter, and the Gunters are trying desperately to find the egg before the evil corporation IOI and their "Sixers," thus dubbed for the 6-digit ID codes they are known by.

The sixers intend to turn the OASIS into a completely commercial place, while Halliday, the gunters, and specifically our hero want to keep it an open source place where, yes, money is important to improve your avatar and get where you're going in the OASIS, but it's not completely necessary to have an OASIS experience, as we see as we watch Z.

For me, the draw of this book was the references to really great music, movies and games of the 80s and 90s. Among the greats referenced were "War Games," "Firefly" (and it's movie counterpart "Serenity"), "Pac-Man," "Blade Runner," "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," and on, and on, and on... Plus, it goes pretty in depth into the history of Role Playing games in general, both online and book-based/table-top gaming.

It is a story from a teenagers point of view, so it deals with nerddom and the inherent inability to fit in that most Nerds/Geeks experience, and it does have the necessary love story of two nerds falling in love. The obvious Corporate Menace of IOI and the Sixers completes the formula to create a really great story. There are elements of dystopia, sci-fi, and fantasy (the entire internet is an RPG, how can you not have some fantasy going on?), complete with an aged wizard. It is a quest story that follows Campbell's archetypal Hero's journey, and it's just freaking awesome!

If I had to make any complaint, it would be the ending, which could have been stolen directly from one of the few movies that wasn't referenced: "Hackers." We come nearly to the end of the quest, and in order to defeat the evil Corporate menace, our hero and his group of barely legal young adults needs the help of the entire Gunter world. Had Art3mis (the love interest) suggested it, it would have almost been a direct match. I believe someone even uses the phrase "Gunter army" in the same way Angelina Jolie's character in "Hackers" refers to a "Hacker army." Also, it comes down to just one Gunter vs. the Sixers, and we watch his progress as all the hackers watched young Joey as he got close enough to complete the mission at the end of "Hackers." I did wonder, for only a brief moment, if that was why "Hackers" wasn't mentioned, so no one would make the connection.

Otherwise, it was a really good idea. Not sure it was totally original, but it was done in a really great way. Had me glued to the end. ( )
  LadyLiz | Nov 25, 2014 |
This books was excellent! I got sucked in immediately. Loved the characters, loved the plot, such an original book! I especially loved teh plethora of nerd references, and always patted myself on the back when I got them.

I hadn't realised Cline also wrote Fanboys, which is one of my all time favorite movies. I can not wait for his next book to come out next year.

5 shiny, gleaming stars. ( )
  ariel.kirst | Nov 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 431 (next | show all)
Ready Player One borrows liberally from the same Joseph Campbell plot requirements as all the beloved franchises it references, but in such a loving, deferential way that it becomes endearing. There’s a high learning curve to all of the little details Wade throws out about the world, and for anyone who doesn’t understand or love the same sect of pop culture Halliday enjoyed, Ready Player One is a tough read. But for readers in line with Cline’s obsessions, this is a guaranteed pleasure.
The breadth and cleverness of Mr. Cline’s imagination gets this daydream pretty far. But there comes a point when it’s clear that Wade lacks at least one dimension, and that gaming has overwhelmed everything else about this book.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Aug 14, 2011)

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cline, ErnestAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brand, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fowler, RalphDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massey, JimCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.
Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.
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Book description
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut — part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera.

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS — a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly, the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

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"An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline's imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe."--Booklist, starred review "Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future--the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday's fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline."--Chris Schluep, Amazon Best Book of the Month… (more)

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