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Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Ernest Cline

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4,0534551,255 (4.22)3 / 501
Title:Ready Player One: A Novel
Authors:Ernest Cline
Info:Broadway (2012), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

Recently added bymschuyler, hrhiles, ohbookish, Lukeozade100, BookGuide, private library, szarka, arena100
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English (449)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (2)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (455)
Showing 1-5 of 449 (next | show all)
If books could be designated as mashups, then Ready Player One would be called a glorious mashup of fantasy, science fiction, eighties culture, and gaming. The story is set a couple of decades in the future, and the world has not fared well. Energy supplies were exhausted, creating an energy crisis. Massive population shifts occurred as people abandoned rural areas to live near big cities where more resources could be found, wars increased as people fought over those scarce resources, and economies around the world plummeted. While the physical earth deteriorated, the virtual world exploded in a paradise of perfection and possibilities. A genius game designer, James Halliday, created OASIS, which began as a massive multiplayer online game that immersed players in the world with visors and gloves allowing gamers to see and feel what they played. OASIS quickly evolved into a virtual reality system, offering endless possibilities for communicating, gaming, shopping, and education. Now, more and more people are escaping into this still beautiful virtual universe as their physical world declines around them.

The story begins at the moment when James Halliday dies, and describes his unusual will. He informs the world that he has hidden an easter egg inside his massively popular OASIS system, inspired by programmers of the earliest video games he played. He leaves some cryptic clues about three keys that will open three gates, all of which need to be found, and then drops the most surprising revelation of all: the first player to find his hidden easter egg will inherit Halliday's entire fortune, along with controlling shares in his company.

The narrator of the book is Wade Watts, an eighteen year old high school student whose real existence is quite unbearable. His parents are dead, and his aunt despises him but puts up with his occasional presence in her trailer because she swipes his food credits as his official guardian. Wade is part of a growing population of poor persons who live in the stacks, lower class tenements comprised of trailers stacked up in teetering piles to economize space. He spends most of his time in OASIS, even to the extent of being enrolled in a virtual school system. Wade is a dedicated gunter, or egg hunter. While the prologue describes Halliday's death and will, the first chapter picks up five years later. Fervor over the egg hunt has simmered down after five years of unsuccessful searching. Not even the first key has been found. While gunters were supported and adored at the beginning of the hunt, they've become something of a joke, and most of them spend more time in petty fighting than making any real progress on the hunt. Wade, however, is faithful to the dream. In addition to working on finishing his last year of school, he spends his time researching the clues Halliday left.

This is where the culture of the eighties enters the future. Halliday was obsessed with the music, movies, books, and games of the eighties, the decade when he lived through his teenage years. Beside his brief rhymes about keys and gates, Halliday left one other resource for those interested in joining the hunt, a journal. However, instead of daily records or memories, his journal is comprised of essays and ramblings on his favorite eighties topics. Wade, like other serious gunters, realizes that the path to finding the clues is learning all he can about what Halliday liked, so his research involves immersing himself in everything mentioned in Halliday's journals. He watches old eighties sitcoms, listens to eighties music, and watches movies and reads books all referenced in the journal. If a movie is described as a favorite, Wade watches it over and over. He plays all the old video games until he has mastered each one. As he says, when one spends all one's time online, the day offers plenty of time for obsessing over the eighties.

Wade's biggest problem is his lack of funds. He can escape into the OASIS for free, but his avatar is stuck on the planet of Ludus, which contains all of the public schools students can attend. He may have amassed an insane amount of Halliday trivia, but he can't actually travel to find the keys or the gates.

I would say the story kicks into gear when Wade makes the mental leap that draws all of the preliminary clues together and he deduces where the first key is to be found, but actually, the narrative is fluid and brisk from the very first page. The first person narration pulls the reader in, and Wade is such a sympathetic character, one that quickly drew my attachment and had me rooting for him. The beginning of the book devotes most of its pages to developing the world, setting up Wade's character, and getting Halliday's contest established and running. Each of these three components are fascinating, and completely held my interest. The dystopian setting is convincing, Wade is a rounded and believable character, and the contest is simply exciting. The eighties material is cleverly built into this framework, and as a girl who was born in '79 and grew up in the eighties, I was delighted with every reference. How fabulous that each of the keys and gates were intricately connected to some tidbit from the eighties.

Sometimes, a book sets up a wonderful premise but doesn't deliver on its potential. Happily, this novel justifies the initial excitement generated by the contest at the beginning. The clues are complicated, the answers are convoluted but make sense once explained, and are in keeping with Halliday's character and the eighties fixation. Once Wade's avatar Parzival starts finding keys, he is not the only avatar to unlock the secrets of the hunt. His close friend Aech and his cyber crush Art3mis are right behind him (or sometimes before him) in deciphering Halliday's enigmatic scenarios. Two boys from Japan round out the top five gunters who soon become international sensations. The competition raises the tension in the story, and it is further increased when the company Innovative Online Industries demonstrates that it is willing to take any step to ensure that one of its employees wins that egg.

With an exciting plot, a crazy contest, likable characters and a couple of despicable villains, and a bang-up climax that is battle and show down and emotional reunion where people's actual identities are revealed, I didn't want to put this book down. The author Cline was clever in his merging of multiple fandoms into an original concept that is pure fun. For anyone who has ever geeked out, be it over Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft, or any other branch of nerdom, this book is a must read. ( )
  nmhale | Feb 25, 2015 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand it had some exciting parts and the world/characters were interesting. But on the other hand there are some pretty serious flaws in the writing and plot. The author has the tendency to describe all sorts of details about the virtual gaming world of the novel or 80s pop culture. About half-way through the book I was just tired of paragraphs of descriptions. I just wanted to plot to speed up and move forward.

The other problem is the numerous plot inconsistences/flaws. For instance, it stretches the imagination considerably that some 18-year old kid could have spent so much time watching movies (at one point the character mentions that he's seen some favorite movie 150 times), tv shows, playing video games, reading books (essentially learning and experiencing everything about the 80s), as well as becoming an expert hacker. The character seems to have no need for sleep as well as infinite time to become a master of everything. It also drove me nuts that no one in the entire book has heard of google. A big part of the book centers on solving puzzles/riddles. This would involve the character sitting around for days to weeks contemplating some poem and what it meant. It became quickly apparent to me that a few keyword searches would reveal most of what these puzzles meant. The bad guys had hundreds of people trying to solve these puzzles, but apparently couldn't tell left from right. I could go on and on, but no need.

Perhaps I'm missing the point. This book is clearly a homage to the 80s and geekdom. If this was a hollywood movie, I would probably ignore most of the flaws since hollywood doesn't get most plots right anyway. I'd probably just sit back, enjoy the special effects, action, and craziness of it all, while relying on suspension of disbelief. And maybe that's how I should have read this book. In the end I'd give it between 3.5 and 4 stars, but will settle on 4 stars. ( )
  aarondesk | Feb 23, 2015 |
YA dystopian homage to gaming and to the 80s in the form of a competetive game.
  bfister | Feb 23, 2015 |
Absolutely awesome!!! I'll be shocked if this isn't adapted to film or a graphic novel in the near future. ( )
  TBones | Feb 18, 2015 |
"Ready Player One" is a science-fiction celebration of the nerdy 1980's and MMORPG cultures. The story takes place in a world where the fortune of a wealthy eccentric has been willed to whosoever should complete a particularly puzzling MMORPG 1980's trivia quest.

While there was humor in the story, I would have appreciated if tone was more consistently light. An early chapter contains an absurd old-school arcade machine duel between a dead wizard and a knight in shining armor. Another chapter features a battle between Mecha Godzilla and Ultraman. However, between those silly scenes there are innocent families burned alive in their homes and a reclusive young man dragged from his bedroom and brutally murdered. This dissonance makes the violence more shocking, but it also made the book less enjoyable for me.

Culturally, I'm a decade too young for this book. I missed 3 of every 4 cultural references to 1980's obscurity, and I've never really liked MMORPGs. On the other hand, I think if I were any older then I would've found the (cute, occasionally saccharine) romantic subplot even less satisfying.

If you love the idea of a future centered around the nerdy parts of the 1980's, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, go read a great Sci-Fi novel from the 80's instead. I recommend Neuromancer or Ender's Game, though anyone considering "Ready Player One" has probably read those already. ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 449 (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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