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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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4,1714661,201 (4.22)3 / 505
While creative and even brilliantly inventive in some spots (yes, Saturday Night Live shows are still entertaining audiences a few decades into the future), Cline's book simply is too long for its storyline. Midway through this peek into a bleak futuristic society, it's easy to feel like a computer gamer who realizes that are still 32 grueling levels to conquer before the real payoff occurs. Don't get me wrong. "Ready Player One" is dotted with some eyebrow-raising wow factors, and there are a good number of laugh-out-loud moments. But there are just way too many unnecessary details and diversions from the main story path for my liking. This would have made for a wonderful novella -- or at least a scaled-down novel. I'm usually a fan of dystopian tales (I'm a magnet at parties for folks in search of nuggets of optimism and inspiration), so I was surprised that Cline's yarn wore thin after our gamers started the second leg of their explorations. Still, I think readers with more patience than I have will enjoy this unique journey into a problem-plagued futuristic society. ( )
  brianinbuffalo | Feb 12, 2012 |
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I'm not a big fan of the 80's, but this was sure a good book! It says at the back of the book that it might be made into a movie. If so, I'll definitely want to see it! If you are a gamer geek, then you'll love this book! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
I'm not a big fan of the 80's, but this was sure a good book! It says at the back of the book that it might be made into a movie. If so, I'll definitely want to see it! If you are a gamer geek, then you'll love this book! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
I'm not a big fan of the 80's, but this was sure a good book! It says at the back of the book that it might be made into a movie. If so, I'll definitely want to see it! If you are a gamer geek, then you'll love this book! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
I'm not a big fan of the 80's, but this was sure a good book! It says at the back of the book that it might be made into a movie. If so, I'll definitely want to see it! If you are a gamer geek, then you'll love this book! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
I'm not a big fan of the 80's, but this was sure a good book! It says at the back of the book that it might be made into a movie. If so, I'll definitely want to see it! If you are a gamer geek, then you'll love this book! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
I'm not a big fan of the 80's, but this was sure a good book! It says at the back of the book that it might be made into a movie. If so, I'll definitely want to see it! If you are a gamer geek, then you'll love this book! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
I'm not a big fan of the 80's, but this was sure a good book! It says at the back of the book that it might be made into a movie. If so, I'll definitely want to see it! If you are a gamer geek, then you'll love this book! ( )
  sandra.k.heinzman | Apr 2, 2015 |
This book was awesome! As a huge fan of the 80's (class of '89) I absolutely adored all of the 80's references used in the story. Also being a big gamer fan (WoW nerd) I totally enjoyed the gaming aspects of the book. I seriously could not put it down. ( )
  Verkruissen | Mar 25, 2015 |
Very good story about virtual reality and 80s culture. Very well done for a new author. Looking forward to his next book. ( )
  Guide2 | Mar 12, 2015 |
There were some sappy, cringe inducing moments, but they didn't ruin the experience. The writing was nothing special, but the imagination at work was enough to keep me interested. I really got into the idea of the Oasis and the "games within the game." If I was 15 and really into video games, this would easily get 5 stars. I did grow up in the 80's, and the pop culture trivia scattered throughout every page (sometimes annoying) made for enjoyable, and easy reading. It was like watching something like "Back to the Future." Something that kids and adults can enjoy. I can easily see this as a movie but it will probably be ruined in the process. So, read it before you're bombarded with advertising. All in all, nice change of pace from the writing that I usually pursue. ( )
  e-b | Mar 11, 2015 |
So, Willy Wonka and the virtual world. That's what this book is. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It still makes for a very interesting book.

The only thing that drives me nuts is the "Ready Player One" bit. That is a phrase for arcade games, or console games, where there are possibilities of a second player. The way this game is described, everyone has their own console, or actually a visor that logs them into the virtual world. At no time would this game ask "Ready Player One".

That argument aside, this is a very interesting book. A compelling read that is only slightly predictable. I mean, from the very beginning, you find out that the protagonist will in fact be the one who wins the contest. So, the rest of the book is just the story of the journey of how he got there.

I'm not even going to mention the completely impossible bits that make no sense. Okay, maybe I'll mention a few... Like the fact that the protagonist spent hours on an arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man, to get a perfect score. This is near impossible.

There was no reason for him to do this. He did not know there would be a reward from this accomplishment, that would win him the entire contest. So, why did he set forth to get the perfect score? Just because he has crazy OCD? He never had OCD before that... So, yea. Doesn't make sense at all.

It was still a very fun book to read. But yea, fuck Willy Wonka. Fuck him in his dirty chocolate asshole. ( )
  gecizzle | Mar 5, 2015 |
Starts a little slow, to set up the plot, but then takes off like a rocket! Great Characters that draw you into their lives, making you eager to turn the page. I read this in one sitting and passed it on. ( )
  bonnieclyde | Mar 4, 2015 |
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 |
Wade Watts escapes reality through submerging himself in a massive multiplayer online world... but then again so does everyone else. The world is in serious decline and ever since OASIS was created, no one wants to spend much time in reality, especially since the now dead creator of OASIS has left riddles and puzzles that offer the promise of billions of dollars. At first I thought this book might be disappointing... just another book about gaming to pull in young adult male readers, but I was wrong. I couldn't put this book down; I was rooting for Wade and his friends the whole way while they worked to solve the OASIS riddles despite their impoverished backgrounds. Recommended for teens and adults who enjoy science fiction. ( )
  AleashaKachel | Jan 27, 2015 |
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this - other than a letdown after the glowing reviews I've read - but Ready Player One far surpassed my expectations and then some. It had everything: puzzles, romance (and it wasn't forced or obnoxious either), genuine diversity, every fandom under the sun, 80s references, and Wil Wheaton. I couldn't not like it! There were a few times when I thought the plot was falling wildly off-track, but when it all came together with a literal deus ex machina I couldn't bother to be bothered by the little things.

I started this at noon today for National Readathon Day and haven't done a thing since then. Absolute A+ from me. Now excuse me while I go do chores and other 'normal' things that I've neglected for the last seven hours. ( )
  readstolive | Jan 24, 2015 |
One of the best books I have read this year! Great combination of video games, puzzles, action and adventure.
If you like 80's pop culture get ready for a bunch of references!!!
A must read! ( )
  KatesReviews | Jan 24, 2015 |
Description: 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 set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

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.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.

Thoughts: I'm still a little unsure how I feel about this book. I thought sleeping on it might help me put my thoughts into coherent phrases but I don't think it helped much.

On the one hand, I devoured this, listening to it in just over 2 days. That has NEVER happened before. Audiobooks are usually for those in-between moments like driving or lying in bed before sleep. I actually sat on my couch for the better part of two days and just listened to this book. It was weird.

On the other, there were countless times while I was listening that I thought to myself, "This is ridiculous. Why am I listening to these characters ramble on and on about 70s and 80s computer and gaming technology that I couldn't care less about?"

I think, when I get down to the heart of it, I appreciate a story that is very different than most of those available today. I also enjoy an underdog story, a story of some nobody pitting their self against a huge conglomerate entity. In the first chapters I was wholeheartedly on Wade's side.

I think had the story stayed more in the vein of the first chapters, I would have been a huge fan. There was this interesting and impressive balance between the real world and how hard it was for Wade (and millions of others) and the beauty and benefit of the OASIS. That Wade was a creature of both at the same time was very compelling. But when the story took a turn decidedly INTO the OASIS and all it's inherent "perks" I was almost completely turned off by the story. I couldn't relate. I couldn't see how this bit of story about owning a digital asteroid and going to the best parties and turning into FUCKING MERMAID RAVERS had anything to do with saving the digital world from bad guys or being an authentic person in cyber space or felt based in the reality/surreality that Cline had been creating, the one that had me hooked.

Ultimately, I think the thing that really bothered me the most was that this is almost my worst nightmare. As much as my life is online now, as removed from the real world as I can be at times, at no point have I ever wanted to live inside the net. Places like SecondLife and MMORPGs have never held any allure for me. What I really want is for the social world I have found inside the net to be manifest somewhere in the real world. I want all of you and all my other internet friends to live in some nice little town somewhere that we've made perfect. But the idea of abandoning this world for some world in cyberspace... it just does not sit well with me.

Especially a world that lives almost entirely in the past. The kids in this story are arguably brilliant and fascinating. The fact, however, that they spend their lives memorizing stupid 80s trivia and researching every single Rush song ever written is just the most depressing thing ever. Where is their capacity for creativity? Why couldn't the competition be about pushing boundaries and finding solutions to problems? Why mire these beautiful minds and the energies of millions of people all over the world in the muck of whether or not Ladyhawke was a good movie? It was so so so so so depressing.

So. How do I balance the weird compulsion I had to listen listen listen until it was done with the disgust I felt for the world itself and the asinine 80s shit? I don't know. Part of me really appreciates what Cline was doing. But a large part of me just doesn't get it. Or want to all that much.

I'm so very confused.

Rating: 3.41

Liked: 3.5
Plot: 3
Characterization: 3.5
Writing: 3
Audio: 4

https://www.librarything.com/topic/172068#4728199 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 20, 2015 |
It is a good book. The end was pretty surprising. I had stayed up late reading this book, it was an addicting read. ( )
  YOUR_NAME_HERE | Jan 20, 2015 |
Well, I gave it a go, devoted an hour or two to trying to get into it, and it just didn't happen. The premise of the book is interesting, and even the details I picked up in my reading attempt, but the author describes everything like an IT tech telling a clueless computer user how to access the internet ... it just reads far too much like an instruction manual and (I don't know about you but) I always skip those when I can. ( )
  Xandylion | Jan 19, 2015 |
A reclusive software Gates/Woz/Jobs founder has created an online contest to distribute all of his wealth to the winner. The games, puzzles, and contests are all based on his ultra-nerdy upbringing, which just happened to revolve around 80s and 90s video games. The contest creates a world-wide obsession and provides a funny, rollicking nostalgia-fest for the reader. The depiction of the virtual world is both amazing and worrying - really, are we doomed to a VR headset-and-avatars future? I'm looking at you, Facebook.
  Clevermonkey | Jan 14, 2015 |
Excellent. So many geek references, and such strong characters. I was rooting for Wade/Parzival and his friends the whole time. Also--LISTEN to this book. It's read by Wil Wheaton, which is perfect. A few mispronounced Japanese words (which are part of geek culture, not obscure), but I can forgive that.
  LibraryGirl11 | Jan 10, 2015 |
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