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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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4,6255041,030 (4.22)3 / 537
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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Ready Player One was fun from beginning to end. I loved all the 80's references. I didn't have any trouble believing any part of the virtual reality that was better than real life. I embraced all the geek culture. The story had an engaging quest to keep me turning the virtual pages.

For me, the book lost 1/2 star for two irksome things. ***Spoiler Alert***

1. Wade started out dirt poor. He lived in the slums, slept in a van inside a trash heap, and used low quality school issued equipment. After IOI destroys his trailer park trying to kill him, Wade seamlessly transitions into a paranoid hermit with access to food and shelter - he earned some credits and all of a sudden he knows how to spend it and manage a job, his quest, and health. Just a little too easy.

2. In the last part of the book all of a sudden our underdogs get help from the most magical, powerful, wealthy individual in the Oasis. As if that wasn't enough, he helps them in the real world. That was just unbelievable. Even if I could believe he would offer, why would the characters believe it was for real. I personally just didn't buy it. ( )
  sbecon | Sep 3, 2015 |
Simply one of the best books I've read lately. With enough nerdy-80s references to make the geekiest kid happy along with a loving look at popular video games, this dystopian, futuristic novel present a compelling vision of world lived within a virtual reality, but filled with the same human ambitions, desires, and flaws as the real world. A must-read for any video gamer, nerd, fan of dystopias, or really anyone who simply appreciates a good, well-written novel. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Aug 30, 2015 |
Wade Watts is an overweight, out-of-shape teenager with no real friends, no family (well, an Aunt that dislikes him) and a marginal school record. Yet this is 2045 so Wade can leave the real world behind and live in the virtual world of OASIS where his Avatar, Parzival, is everything Wade is not: smart, strong, brave, and successful. Wade/Parzival becomes enmeshed in the search to solve the penultimate game, created by the now-deceased founder of OASIS.... to win the big cash prize, to keep the prize away from The Sixers who would regulate OASIS (shades of Net Neutrality!) and mostly because he likes a good game. Much of the game is based upon 1980s culture -- a nice throwback for older readers. Lots of action and a surprising component of real pathos and feeling (Wade falls in love...) It's a long read (and this reader occasionally glossed over some of the game-y stuff) but well worth the push. Terrfiic. ( )
1 vote mjspear | Aug 28, 2015 |
I loved this book! The trivia alone was half the fun, but I enjoyed the characters and the progression of events as well. Fun story! FUN! ( )
  yrizaria | Aug 23, 2015 |
Anyone who grew up in the 80s went to bed after playing hours of Atari, Coleco or PC games, dreamt that this book would one day be written. Essential reading in my opinion. ( )
  LJMax | Aug 21, 2015 |
Great book. ( )
  Gustavo_Penha | Aug 19, 2015 |
This was a fun and quick read. It wasn’t a particularly deep or complex book, but the story was interesting, the characters were well-written, and the author did a great job with intense action scenes. Sometimes I caught myself tensely gripping my Kindle during critical moments of the story, and I stayed up well past my bedtime on a couple of nights because I had to know what would happen next.

I guess pretty much everybody is already familiar with the general idea behind this story if it’s something they’re remotely interested in, but here’s a spoiler-free synopsis of the basic premise just in case anybody is curious. The story is set in the future, around 2040. Conditions in the real world are pretty bad, but there’s a world-wide virtual reality called OASIS that most people spend all of their spare time in. The creator of OASIS, Halliday, has hidden an “Easter egg” somewhere within this humongous virtual reality and created a series of puzzles and tests that must be solved in order to find it. Upon his death, an announcement goes out to the world to let them know about the egg. Whoever finds the egg will inherit Halliday’s company and become a billionaire. The story opens up a few years after Halliday’s death, with nobody having made any significant progress toward finding the egg. Our main character, Wade, is a senior in high school who has devoted every possible moment of his life toward finding this egg. Halliday grew up in the 80’s and was obsessed with that era’s old video games and movies and TV shows, so the puzzles and tests are based heavily on things from that era.

The main character sometimes came off as a little naïve, but he was only about 18 so I guess he had the right to be a little naïve. Otherwise, I really liked him and found him easy to root for. I also liked some of the characters he encountered throughout the story. Art3mis annoyed me sometimes, but I really liked Aech. I did think that the main character, Wade (known as Parzival in OASIS), was just a little too all-knowing. I didn’t actually bother to do the math, but it seemed unrealistic to me that he had found the time to watch so many old TV shows and movies, not just once but multiple times. He watched them dozens of times in some cases, and even over 100 times in others. Also, not only did he play and learn scads of old video games, but he also mastered them. It seemed unrealistic even if, as he said, he was spending 12 hours a day on it every day.

The story was pretty straight forward and told from the first-person perspective of Wade. There were surprises here and there, but the story wasn’t particularly twisty. There were puzzles of course but, unless you’re familiar with the relevant games, movies, and TV shows from the 80’s, you can’t really hope to figure them out on your own. However, you don’t have to have intimate knowledge of 80’s geekdom culture to enjoy the story. I was born in 1975, so I did grow up during the 80’s, but I wasn’t familiar with most of the things that were mentioned. I didn’t watch much TV at all and I doubt I’ve been in a video arcade more than 5 times in my entire life. We didn’t have any video game consoles at home either, nor did any of my closest friends have them. I did grow up with computers, and we had some games for them, but my parents didn’t buy a lot of games. However, even though there were a lot of references to things I was unfamiliar with, I never felt lost. The author explained whatever was important to the story.

Despite the fact that I don’t have much knowledge of 80’s video games, I do enjoy computer games and I even still play them now and then – maybe for an hour or two a week at the very most. In the 90’s I discovered all of the shareware and freeware games available online, so I actually played more games in my late teens and early 20’s than I had played as a kid in the 80’s when games were harder for me to access. So my point here is that I’m quite familiar with general gaming concepts and I enjoy games, even if my video game experience is limited. Maybe this helped make the book more appealing and fun for me. I especially enjoyed the earlier parts of the book when the main character started off with absolutely nothing and started to accumulate both real-world and OASIS loot. I was excited for him when he found the treasure in that first dungeon and started to gain levels. After that, I thought his continued advancement was a little too fast.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot although it’s a little hard for me to quantify why. ( )
  YouKneeK | Aug 15, 2015 |
A co-worker suggested this book after a discussion about challenging yourself to read books in genres you wouldn't normally read. I'm not sure exactly what genre this book would be classified as (science fiction?), but I thought I would give it a try.

Ready Player One takes place in the future when society is collapsing and a lot of people spend most of their time in OASIS, a massive online virtual reality simulation. When the creator of OASIS died, his will stated that his fortune would be left to whoever was the first person to find an egg he had hidden somewhere inside the simulation. Tons of people have devoted their life to finding this egg. The creator of OASIS, and most of the people who spend their time there are obsessed with the 80s... the movies, video games, tv shows, etc. The book is told from the point of view of someone obsessively hunting for this egg.

I can't go so far as to say I really liked this book, but I'm not sure why I didn't hate it. I'm not a big fan of the 80s, I don't like video games, I get annoyed when people obsessively quote movies and zone out when people talk about video games...that is basically all this book was. I maybe got about 1% of the references to pop culture. Yet somehow I kept reading and was interested in what happened. Go figure. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
EDIT: I just learned that Steven Speilburg is directing the movie!! Can we all just shout thanks to the heavens???

I LOVED this book. Like the storyline was one of a kind unique and I am so happy I chose to read this. The world that Cline built was so amazing in how realistic it seemed. It was so intricate and well built and it seems almost reality to the point where I can see this world as a future for us.
His characters were amazing. Wade was actually great and just going through this story with him almost felt like we were friends and I really enjoyed it. I LOVED Aech and I liked the twist with her at the time. And I really did love Art3mis a lot. Overall I really loved the book and I am so incredibly overjoyed with the ending of the book.
The reason it has 4 stars instead of 5 is because it was too sci-fi for me. There was an ENORMOUS amount of world building in this book which means that the actual story didn't start till page 90 or so. I see the importance of the world building now that I am done but it did seem like a lot. As well there was so much technological stuff near the end that I actually skimmed a large portion of the end. I still got the storyline but I might be missing details. I've never done that before but the anxiousness to get to the end was winning out over the need to read the book.
Really though overall I recommend this book definitely.

Book Challenge book #5: A Book With A Number In The Title ( )
  thatgirlbookworm | Aug 5, 2015 |
Wade Watts is a teenager living in a futuristic United States where most people escape the misery of daily existence brought on by climate change and shortages of food/resources by escaping to the internet based world of Oasis. In Oasis, life is experienced through virtual reality, where one's avatar can acquire powers and traits beyond what is possible in the real world. When Oasis's creator, James Halliday, dies, his will sets into motion a giant contest, whereby players can seek out his massive fortune and total Oasis powers by finding a hidden "egg". In order to be successful in the games and challenges of the contest, the players must be specifically and thoroughly knowledgeable about 1980's videogames and pop culture, which was the creator's personal interest. When the game starts, Wade is essentially like Charlie Bucket from Willie Wonka, a teenager in poverty with barely enough food and money to survive. With only his wits and online skills, Wade is determined to find the egg before one of the millions of others find it first. At the same time, an evil corporation uses cheating and multi-player methods to try to win the contest, in order to gain ultimate control over Oasis. This is a good versus evil, exciting thriller which pulls in the energy of videogames and the pop culture of the 80's into a roller coaster of a novel. I really enjoyed this book, which was much better than I expected from the title. I would expect that any teenager or adult (who was a teen in the 80's) would also enjoy this thrilling adventure. I only had one question about this book... so when is the movie coming out??? ( )
  voracious | Jul 31, 2015 |
Man I loved this book. Loved it loved it. It was written terrifically. Best book I've read since the Dark Tower series (not counting The Dark Tower). The oasis, the easter eggs, the video games, it was really cool. If you grew up in the 80's and 90's, you'll dig this book. ( )
  Joeyzaza82 | Jul 31, 2015 |
Ernest Cline has hit a wondrous chord with this book! As I am a gamer and grew up in the 80s, I truly felt at home with Wade's romp through memory land on his quest for the hidden egg within Oasis.

Oasis is the online world in the book in which the main character Wade aka. Parzival spends almost all of his time. The funny thing here is that we are not that far from this being a reality. There are immersive 3D products hitting the market now which is going to become the new technology for society.

James Halliday the famous creator of the Oasis has left a final message for the world saying that somewhere within his immersive environment he has hidden an easter egg and that the person who can pass all of his puzzles and secret gates to find the egg will become the sole heir to his vast fortune and company. Wade Watts is one of the gunters (egg hunters) who has embarked upon this most epic of quests but Wade unlike most gunters has a low level character and no money to travel within the Oasis and is literally stuck on the planet that his high school is located on. He does however meet his best friend Art3mis with whom he does most of his "homework" on the 1980's with to unravel the clues Halliday left behind. Wade embarks on a journey that leads him through many adventures and almost gets him killed, but he is a very determined and courageous kid. ( )
  LibraryDLemm | Jul 29, 2015 |
Bellingham MS librarians selected this as one of the 2015 Battle of the Books. Teachers could use this novel to connect with teens (specifially male) over gaming and video games. ( )
  CJFisher | Jul 27, 2015 |
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: In 2044 teenager Wade Watts and his Gunter friends pursue virtual lives in the OASIS. Through the actions of their avatars in the OASIS, they struggle to achieve massive power and fortune by solving puzzles based on the OASIS creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past. However, in addition to Watts and his friends, ruthless corporate entities (the Sixers) are also determined to solve the puzzles to enhance their power and fortunes. They will stop at nothing to accomplish this goal. It’s an interesting premise, but for me the author failed to grab and maintain my interest in the story during the first three-quarters of the book. There is some action, but not enough to make up for the unending descriptions of Watts’ virtual gamesmanship, his massive knowledge of computer/video games, and his knowledge of popular culture. I found the more action-packed last quarter of the book to be more entertaining, although it was still predominately virtual actions with real consequences. This book just didn’t grab me, but I know it is widely popular. ( )
  clark.hallman | Jul 25, 2015 |
Most of this sci-fi novel takes place in a virtual reality space crafted by an obsessive programming genius in the near future. The author does a wonderful job of describing the action that takes place in the subjective experience of the protagonist. There is so much detail about the recreation of the 1980's movies, music, TV, comics, and video games that it is a nostalgic trip to read and experience along with the characters in the novel. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
OK, first my disclaimers. I am not in the intended audience for this book. I'm the wrong age, for one. (Too old.) My values don't match (aesthetically and morally). Possibly as a consequence of the previous mismatches, but not completely because of them, I don't worship pop-culture icons or philosophies, works of "art", etc. And, worst of all, I'm not a gamer.

There! I got that out of the way. One more thing--I don't believe in books with intended audiences. I'm not a fanatic on this point, but I like to think it's better to be writing for an audience of all humans, rather than, say, humans who agree with me. I understand that this is nearly an impossible standard and that culture exists and divides us despite our best intentions, but I would hope we wouldn't surrender to this limitation so quickly.

Now my confessions. I understand competition. I've played some games. Enough to not have to have PVP explained to me, or NPCs, or artifacts, even. I've played text adventure games, including Zork. I got the Cap'n Crunch clue the first time I heard the quatrain (I'd explored phreakery for a short time) I even appreciated the double initial conventions of comic book superheros, with W.W. and H.H. echoing Lois Lane, Peter Parker, etc. I've seen (and liked) Blade Runner, War Games, Monty Python, Brazil (I got the Harry Tuttle reference), Firefly. I do hate large corporations, appreciate the difficult social life of the geek, like solving puzzles and appreciate the steps and missteps involved, resent cheaters in on-line games.

Last night, I watched the movie Not Fade Away which was in large part and infodump of my generation's touch points--Jagger meets Richards, The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, JFK and Martin Luther King, etc. It reminded me how miserable I was as a kid. The nostalgia didn't help. I wasn't prompted to remember the good parts and minimize the bad--almost enjoy the bad because we suffered through them together and watched our values prevail. The idea that one would look back to the 80s as the good old days is insane to me. There never were any good old days. The riches won as the prize would do precious little to fix the ills of 2044 and might inadvertently make it worse. Halliday asks Parzival to use his powers for good (as if the IOI villains experienced themselves as using their powers for bad) but "good" is a naive value. For me, it would not include making money by using your fame to endorse a product, for example. Remember Google's "Don't be evil?" How are they doing?

OK, so forget the realism arguments. This book adheres more to the conventions of comics or video games where the good are all good, the bad are all bad. Love can conquer all. Winners can fix what needs to be fixed. If we can accept this in some media, why reject it in others?

Well, there are some reasons. Novels are long. We expect this length to be matched by character depth. Nolan Sorento coded some good games, Wade admits, but, what happened to him? Where's his character depth? We know (if we are into comic book trivia) why Lex Luthor turned evil. Did Nolan just sell out for the power and money? I didn't find it convincing. A detail I especially liked is that the evil corporation had to hire programmers (because money lacks skills and must purchase them) and these coders then inserted their own trap doors in the code. However, this doesn't happen much in practice because IRL, non-trivial commercial code is reviewed by several others who can't all be in on the conspiracy. This is especially true in a corporate environment--and doubly so in an evil paranoid one. Yet I still enjoyed the concept of the contemptuous misused employees striking a blow against their employers.

That Wade could pull off a perfect game of Pacman is easier to accept than that he can hack a corporate network and write bug-free code in a matter of a few days with no opportunity to test anything. That a few geniuses can outwit a megacorporation so easily (and that their only skill is cheating, threatening, bribing and enslaving) doesn't work as well in a novel than in a comic book. That kids with little real relationship experience, who hated their physical selves until the end can succeed in a relationship, is OK with me. I'll suspend my disbelief because it feels good.

The foreshadowing was mostly transparent. Wade had to used the beta capsule and the magic quarter and I waited for it. Similarly, IOI would have to use the artifacts it was known to have. And Shoto goes for revenge. Still, the extra life trick was a good one.

A port wine birthmark is a pro-forma disfigurement. We can feel good about this triumph against looksism without there having been a serious challenge.

For all that others complained about the writing, I found it a better read than Corey Doctorow (now on the OASIS board), much of Douglass Adams, and other canonically admired writers. (Vonnegut is in a whole 'nother class, though.) That reality is better than the OASIS (if that's the moral of the story) is questionable. Groucho to the contrary, you can get a lot of bad meals in the real world too, and often in 2044, no meals at all. Reality is something we face, because we have to. Not something we learn is better aesthetically. Hey--we're readers here. We prefer a book, even (or especially) one that's unrealistic, to boring, annoying, terrifying reality. What's more it's not all that real either. Yeah, realer than facebook, but the impulse behind facebook strongly infects the real world wherever you turn in how we present ourselves (even to ourselves) and converse and think about things and everything else. If you don't believe me, drop some acid some time and look around you. Or just read R. D. Laing. Or Erving Goffman, Ernest Becker. (Even Ernest Cline has W.W. say that meeting someone mind to mind on line is more intimate than vaunted real life.

Should we really value genius and hard work the way we do in this book? We have to value something. We question the values of society that rewards rapaciousness, manipulation of others, and deceit. We reject the values of religion, but the most unambiguous good person in the book is the innocent, murdered, Mrs. Gilmore. I'm just going to ask how we who claim to be realists choose our values.

Personally, if I were going to hack the IOI database, while I was in there, I'd free all the indents--maybe with a timer-executed program. What chaos that could cause!

SNL is still on the air in 2044? I hope it got good again at some point. No, really, that it was all these years in the future and (outside the important theme elements of the book) society has changed so little was too unbelievable to overlook. Wade jokes about Art3mis being a 40-ish balding guy named Chuck, but what's wrong with that? It's an age-ist and sexist and looksist kind of a joke underneath it all, which we then overcompensate for in the person of Aech (who gets to be the only Black person in the book.) If we, the reader, were sure that Aech was white and male, it is our assumptions, not Wades, that get subverted. And speaking of racism, the Japanese "brothers" are given a cliche stereotype character that is already pretty outdated in 2013. By 2044, it can't have reverted that much. We still have countries in 2044, but they all suck so much that we don't care about world politics at this point? (Wade doesn't bother to vote, except for OASIS council--it was fun to hear Wil Wheaton read his own name in the audiobook as if it was just another line of text.)

Which leads one to ask, why 2044? 2022 would have been more convincing, considering how little has changed but at only 9 years into the future, I can see why one might want to hold off on our destruction.

I complained a lot up there, and yes, I wish it had been better at many points, but in the end, I enjoyed it, the way one enjoys a piece of pop-culture, perhaps, without over-analyzing or insisting it meet the standards of the stuff we were told in school is real art. I teared up at the sentimental parts as I was supposed to, even though the happy-ish ending was never really in doubt.
( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
This book gets 1 star, and that only because GoodReads does not allow fractional rating scores.

I am actually just the right age and background to feel at home with all the cultural references (I played adventure on the 2600, k?) - but the book is so godawful that the constant and methodical term-dropping only made me like it less.

If it were a pre-teen book, then sure, maybe. But it is published as an adult book, and as such, no mercy.


What a stunted, shallow, condescending, and sexist (yes, that too) piece of work!

Never mind that the bad guy has no redeeming qualities and is flatter than, oh, the Power Rangers witch (just to conjure (!) an image)

Never mind that the good guys are a bunch of whiny goody-two-shoes that constantly feel under-appreciated and think the world's coming to them.

Never mind that the plot is inconsistent and has to invent new devices at a record pace just to keep itself afloat, said devices often literally being actual devices... new types of bombs or new types of shields in the virtual reality universe...

Never mind that there's actually a token black guy (well, gal, and the only person described in racial terms,) and being chubby AND lesbian, is clearly out of play for our lady killer protagonist, who discovers that his virtual love is in fact a straight pretty girl with a birthmark, basically a version of himself but with boobs, waiting for him to rescue her from her self-imposed social exile because he can see right through the birthmark and everyone else can't. (The world ain't waiting for you, chum).

And what's with the sex doll ?! Seriously? Is the take-away lesson here that a doll can't replace a person? That's deep. If he wasn't so serious about it, it'd be funny.

Never mind that the basic premise has the intelligence level of the Dukes of Hazzard, except that it is not self-deprecating and there's no Daisy.

Never mind that the ending is so grotesquely obvious that the only reason you don't fully guess it is that you can't believe a grown author would be so banal.

Never mind all that.

The worst offense, in the literary sense, it the basic Potteresque cockamamie plot, in which a wizard will give a medal, or a million dollars, or the equivalent in geek terms, to the winner of an abstract competition he's set up, where clearly the wizard is rooting for the good guy, but has to pretend he's impartial... The protagonist is clearly more qualified, but the bad guy can win by cheating because he has more money so it's a close race... The fate of everything the Wizard has built hangs on the result of this race, and he's going to give it away to whoever is best at Pacman? I mean, seriously?


It's as shallow a fantasy as I've ever seen. Simply stunted writing, with not a glimmer of originality or character depth.

I can see exactly why it's having such great success. ( )
  meekGee | Jul 6, 2015 |
Definitely a fun read, although descriptive vocabulary left something to be desired. ( )
  technotheist | Jul 3, 2015 |
Wade aka Perzival loves life in the OASIS, even if he doesn't have credits to travel much in the virtual worlds. He goes to school there and is a full time Gunter, egg hunter. When the creator of OASIS died, a contest was announced to solve a series of puzzles within the game to inherit the fortune. After five years, Wade finds the first clue and finds himself in a race for survival and to ensure the freedom of the virtual world for the future.
Tons of 80s pop culture references, lots of actions, interesting questions of what's of value in the "real" world. ( )
  ewyatt | Jun 22, 2015 |
Very enjoyable; gave it 3 stars for some incongruous coincidences and loose ends. It should make a fun movie--which I will definitely go see! ( )
  NatalieSW | Jun 21, 2015 |
Wow! I'm ready for Player Two to take the joystick!

This is a book for lovers of the 1980s. For lovers of 80s movies. For lovers of 80s music. For the lovers of video games. For the lovers of MMO games. For RPGs. For first person shooters. For the fantasy genre. For the sci-fi genre. For geek culture. For nerd culture. For The Matrix. For Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. For dystopian novels. For the shy recluse who would rather meet someone online. For all those things and more.

This is an absolutely great book if you fall in any of the categories listed above. The entire book is simply a love-fest of all things related to any and all of those topics, I don't even know where to begin. There's so much attention to detail, so many quips and one-liners that only a true nerd will get, so many insane childhood fantasies come to life in this novel. I just can't!

Sure, there were some parts where I definitely had to suspend my disbelief, but it was easier once I, myself, was in the world of OASIS, the computer generated software of [b:Ready Player One|20603758|Ready Player One|Ernest Cline|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1390275705s/20603758.jpg|14863741] that basically recreates any and all universes in nerd and geek culture. And then some. But what can I say?

If you haven't read this, then stop what you're doing and pick this book up now! You'll be glad you did. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
I completely enjoyed it, the only thing preventing me from giving it 5 was that plot had too much details. ( )
  ardvisoor | Jun 10, 2015 |
In a word? Overrated. And it reminded me a great deal of Ronald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", except not as witty, imaginative nor as well-written. Also clearly written for videogamers and/or D&D fans. If you aren't a fan of videogames, barely played them, and never played D&D - this book will most likely begin to bore you after a bit.

The plot? In the distant future, earth is run by corporations and the vast majority of its inhabitants spend all their time in a virtual world called OASIS. The creator of this world, an odd recluse named James Halliday, upon his death - created a game within OASIS, whereupon the winner would inherit all of Halliday's money including all rights and/or control over OASIS. During the last five years, two groups have emerged to seek the inheritance. IOI - or the Sixers, an evil mega-corporation that wishes to obtain control over OASIS. IOI wishes to restrict access, increase advertising revenue, remove offensive items, charge a fee to all users, and basically turn the OASIS into a virtual shopping mall/resort for the privileged. The other group is basically individual players/competitors, who have become obsessed with winning the game, they are called gunters. The protagonist - Wade Watts, who is 17-18 years of age - just a few months shy of graduating high school, is a gunter. Outside of the time he spends in the virtual school on the planet Ludus - one of the many planets inside the virtual universe of OASIS, he lives breaths and sleeps the game. Wade is also an expert on videogames and has literally played every videogame made in the 1980s. Apparently Halliday was obsessed with the 1980s, but not everything in the 80s, his interests were somewhat restricted to pre-teen cartoons, anime, action-adventure series, sitcoms, a few sci-fi movies/comedies, a couple of books, and basically every video-game and/or D&D game created. He also loved old computers. So, apparently, does the writer.

Wade Watts spends a great deal of time telling us who Halliday was. We also get a lot of information on the history of videogames. (I skimmed through a great deal of it. It's extensive.) The book is exposition heavy and detailed in regards to virtual reality equipment/devices, computers, and videogames.

The characters however are underdeveloped, outside of Wade aka Parzival and James Halliday, we get very little insight into the other characters - in part because the story is told via Wade's point of view and Wade is a self-absorbed 18 year old boy who spends all his time researching James Halliday and playing Halliday's game.

There are some shout-outs to popular 1980s and 1970s films, such as Blade Runner, War Games, Revenge of the Nerds, and Monty Python's Holy Grail. Two of which are actually incorporated into Halliday's game in a rather innovative and geeky way. (You play the character in the movie and get points added or subtracted for every piece of dialogue or action you replicate exactly. Basically if you're great at being a parrot, you'll win.)

Other minor shout-outs are to the Whedonverse, Firefly, Matrix, and briefly Star Trek and Star Wars.
But no details are provided. And the references are sort of throwaways.

The story does end well, if a tad too neatly. Everything wrapped into a tidy bow.

Overall? I'd recommend for videogamers and 1980s computer geeks, but I think it will bore everyone else.

( )
  cmlloyd67 | Jun 7, 2015 |
Fun read, but character and plot details just okay. ( )
  cptvegetable | Jun 6, 2015 |
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is such a fun and entertaining book! My husband doesn't enjoy reading as much as I do, but I've started checking out non-fiction audiobooks that relate to his interests on Overdrive*. We listen to them on road trips and it has been such a great way to share my hobby with him. As soon as I read the blurb on the cover of Ready Player One (Matrix meets Willy Wonka, video games, 80s nostalgia and virtual worlds), I knew it would be the perfect fiction book to start with. The best part of this book was listening to it together and seeing how much he enjoyed it! He loved it so much that we listened to the last three hours at home, instead of waiting for our next trip!

The year is 2044 and the entire world is plagued by poverty and unemployment. The real world is in such bad shape that people are living a majority of their lives in the OASIS, a virtual utopia. The OASIS even contains an educational system. When the the eccentric, 1980s-obsessed creator of the OASIS James Halliday dies, he leaves behind a video message revealing that he will leave ownership of the OASIS and his entire multi-billion dollar fortune to the first person who can solve the series of challenges he has left hidden within the massive virtual world. Some people devote their entire lives to poring over 1980s culture, in order to find some hint to decipher Halliday's cryptic clue and locate the first challenge. Everyone is stumped! Five years after Halliday's death, orphaned high school senior Wade Watts finds and beats the first challenge and the competition goes into overdrive!

The story is told in first person, from Wade's point of view. The writing is really straight forward and easy to read. The best parts were the scenes inside the the virtual utopia of the OASIS. The descriptions were so vivid that I kept forgetting that much of it was set in a virtual world rather than a real, fantastical world. I was born in 1982 and a bulk of my pop culture memory relates to the 1990s, so I wasn't overly familiar with 100% of the references. Cline does a good job of giving an overview of the most important mentions, so being born in the 1990s or 2000s shouldn't be a hindrance to reading this book. The challenges were based off 1980s video games and it was fun to see what challenge Cline would concoct next! The action was well-paced and I was always eager to start the next chapter. Wil Wheaton did a fantastic job with the voices and transitioned flawlessly between characters. I think I enjoyed this story more as an audiobook, than I would have in written form.

I liked the friendship that evolved between Wade and a few of the other contestants. The message about not missing out on your real life by spending your entire all of your time in a virtual world is relevant and will continue to be relevant as technology evolves.

The negatives didn't detract from my overall positive feelings of the book. There are a lot of exhausting info dumps, especially in the beginning. It felt like there was some master checklist of 80s geek culture and the author wanted to mention them all! The book was so focused on 80s culture that it would throw me off when general geek culture from other decades was mentioned. Of course no decade or generation exists in a vacuum, so that is more my issue than Cline's. The biggest issue for me was that things seem consistently go well for Wade and he gets out more than a few dilemmas with some really good luck, particularly during his crazy plan at the end. The story could have benefited from more tension at points.

The more books I read, the harder it is to read without a super critical eye. Ready Player One was such fun and it reminded me of my love of reading for reading's sake. I'm looking forward to the move and Cline's next book! I would recommend it for anyone who is looking for a fun "popcorn" read and a little escapism. It would also be a great book to recommend to a friend who isn't a big reader.

*Houston Public Library cards are free to all Texas residents and their digital collection is awesome! ( )
  tbritny | Jun 1, 2015 |
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