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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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3,6104141,459 (4.22)3 / 460
brianinbuffalo's review
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 just finished this and it was fantastic. It wasn't anything deep and profound but it's a fun roller coaster adventure that brings you back in time (even though the book is set in the future). If you didn't grow up in the 80's you might not get all the references and it might not make your nostalgic heart flutter BUT if you did... you will love this book. The Author did an amazing job fitting in so many geeky things I found so dear throughout my life that it's almost like he traveled through my past. Not only is extremely nostalgic but it has great character development and a plot that keeps you wanting more. Every geek who has a soft spot for text adventure games, cheesy movies from the 80's and just plain loves a good adventure book should read this... NOW. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Honestly? What was the fuss about? I thought the premise was good but it dragged. ( )
  TadAD | Aug 21, 2014 |

Great premise, great story. This book was pure joy from the first page to the last.

Any computer nerds like me that spent the 80s playing games like Black Tiger, pac man, various text adventures; watching anime, saturday morning cartoons; movies like war games and back to the future...
...then this book is for you.

If you weren't into your Atari 2600, C64, coin ops, and your obsure 80s trivia then potentially this book may not be your thing, but I would say there is still much to enjoy regardless of the nostalgia factor. The characters are fun, the story is interesting and you're taken on a long and varied adventure.

5 stars. A great and entertaining book.

( )
  JohnEKerry | Aug 20, 2014 |
This book/movie was friggin awesome. I say /movie because it was so visually awesome I felt like I was watching it on IMAX.

I was born in 1980 but had a brother born in 1972 so everything that was 80's was in my face as a kid. This was a real geeky experience and I loved every second of it.

It was one of those books I was surprised at not having spotted years before and after picking it up online, I picked an crappy soft cover for the airplane and then a 1st Edition Hard Cover for the top shelf and future signing.

It's the sort of book whereby if you like the first page you will love the rest and if you don't like the first page, don't be a douche, read another one and then you will be sucked in. ( )
  areadingmachine | Aug 19, 2014 |
Will Wheaton was the perfect reader & is actually mentioned by his real name in the story. If you don't know who I'm talking about, then don't bother reading the book or this review. I don't think anyone who isn't into video games or a bit of an SF nerd will get much out of this. It's probably best if you grew up in the 80's, too. Those of us who are a bit older (OK, quite a bit. My kids grew up in the 80's.) but somewhat geeky will also love it.

This had it all - a dystopian world of the near future, social issues, a romance, & fantastic adventure, all set to a backdrop of an 80's geekfest. Early video games figure in prominently along with the music & movies of the decade; War Games, Rush, Star Wars, Zork, Joust, and Blade Runner.

My biggest complaint with the book was redundancy. Cline was too thorough about explaining everything & if there was any chance the idiot reader might not have grasped it the first time, he told me a second time. Drove me a little crazy at times. C'mon! This was a book for nerds. Anyone who can't remember how Joust works needs to play a game again. There's an online version here:
Seriously, that's just one of the sites that comes up. Most of these old games are free online, simply google it.

The book wasn't perfect. It had some issues with a variety of items & pulled off a few cheap shots in the story line. I didn't care much for the way his big infiltration was handled, for instance. Nor how H traveled around in the RV when the bus required a hit team or some of the other tech details, but it was a fun romp. I just went with it & enjoyed. I actually kind of got several of the clues, like Captain Crunch, which made it even more fun.

Overall, it had a great message, too. It is easy to get lost online & ignore the real world even today.

That's just sad, but true. If I was raising a teen today, I'd probably break their phone. Thankfully for my kids, I only stomped one calculator & occasionally took away their computers. Much cheaper.

Anyway, it was great fun & I highly recommend letting Will read it for you. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |


Review to come. ( )
  JennyJen | Aug 14, 2014 |
If you grew up in the 80s you will love all the 80s pop culture throughout this book. To me it had a feel of Harry Potter meets The Matrix. It is a fun book which I would have no problem reading again! ( )
  AspieNerdGirl | Aug 12, 2014 |
Fans of "Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore" and the film "Scott Pilgrim" are likely to enjoy "Ready Player One," a treasure hunt set in a virtual online world and a life or death adventure in a future dystopia. An abundance of 1980s pop culture, geekery, and Japanese cartoon trivia within. ( )
  MzzArts | Aug 2, 2014 |
OMG freakin' amazing! I listened to the audio version read by Wil Wheaton. He did a fantastic job on this well written blast from the past novel. I couldn't recommend it more highly! ( )
  morandia | Aug 1, 2014 |
What a fun read!!! I'm still grinning an hour later! Even with sleep, and work (grr, work), I polished this off in just under a day.

What's not to love about this book:

-Fun 80s references. A dirty secret about me - I loved the Rock of Ages movie, but my absolute favorite part was that a character had the spiral perm with the permed bangs. A completely forgotten piece of my childhood, restored! This book, well the parts with late 80s references (I'm not THAT old) was like that gem of permed hair (we'll call it a flawed gem, given how stupid permed bangs look). Notably missing - references to Back to the Future or the Neverending Story. What gives?

-A great story. A poor kid struggling against all odds to come out on top over a greedy corporation who will stop at nothing, as well as competing against others who are better outfitted and have access to much greater resources. Yeah, so this plot is totally 80s, but doesn't feel like a cheap rehash (unlike certain Kathy Reichs books we won't mention . . . much). It's The Last Starfighter meets Goonies meets Punky Brewster, and I loved every second of it. I guess I'm programmed by my youth to crave a "kid saves the world" story. Just not a Wesley saves the ship story. That kid can suck it. Funny aside - Wil Weaton narrates the audiobook. I might have to pick it up.

I'm hard pressed to come up with anything I didn't like about this book. Yes, some of the references are beyond esoteric, but I never felt like I was left out of the story because of it. A rich video game designer dies and leaves his fortune and control of his online universe to whoever can solve his puzzle - of course there are going to be cryptic video game references. I looked at it as a learning experience. Atari had followups to Adventure, 4 of them? Good to know. The actual lyrics to Dead Man's Party? Cool, though I'll still have to fake them when I sing along.

I can't wait for a movie version of this book. And I never really LOOK FORWARD to movie versions of books. Maybe they'll be permed bangs!
( )
  drhapgood | Jul 27, 2014 |
One of the most fascinating novels I've read in quite some time. Probably best appreciated by those born between around 1965-1972 who were teenagers in the early 1980s. Innovative and very entertaining. ( )
  psmithkent | Jul 13, 2014 |
80's awesomeness!

I can admit to it. I was out-nerded. Big time.
I was a child of the 80's. I watched the movies, played (some of) the games, listened to the music, but I was unprepared for the depth of knowledge of the era needed to solve the puzzles in this book, and in a way, I am glad. It means that I spent enough time outside.

_Ready Player One_ follows our hero Wade/Parzival through the ultimate gaming quest, to find the "Easter Egg" in the largest immersive online gaming platform ever created, the OASIS. An orphaned kid from a trailer park, competing against the world for the big prize. Who couldn't root for this guy?!

The plot follows the arc of an 80's movie perfectly; absentee adult figures, wiz kid gamer, near-impossible quest, real and virtual world threats, mayhem, death, teamwork/sacrifice, and eventual triumph (complete with girl and substitute father figure grinning beatifically). Man, does Ernest Cline deliver! I even admit to tearing up a little at the final sentence - such a perfect wrap. Roll credits now...

The nostalgia level is high, as is the level of nerdiness needed to catch the bare minimum of references necessary to hang, so I would recommend this book specifically to gamers/SciFi and 80's movie buffs in the 35-45 range. Better know your cartoons, amine, D&D, video games (and systems), music, and 80's teen movies... or have a reliable search engine at your disposal. Also recommended for select teens (you'll know them when you see them), but probably not middle schoolers or below due to language/allusions. Overall, a highly enjoyable read. ( )
  Debra_Armbruster | Jul 12, 2014 |
Una historia maravillosa pero que por momentos se me hacía pesada, y no por las inmensa cantidad de referencias a los 80's -eso realmente me gustó y es parte del encanto-, si no por la también inmensa cantidad de detalladas descripciones, que hacen que el libro parezca más un libreto que otra cosa. Que es por lo mismo que creo que la adaptación cinematográfica va a ser genial y, aunque aun no han anunciado una posible fecha de estreno, la espero con ansias. ( )
  Glire | Jul 7, 2014 |
Alot of fun, read the whole book in 2 sessions. ( )
  Lorune | Jul 6, 2014 |
This book was truly dreadful, the only reason my husband and I finished was because I read it aloud on a long car trip and we took to mocking it with added lines and created a drinking game from its repetition of words and phrases like "classic", "vintage", and "one of Halliday's favorites". Had we actually been drinking rather than miming, we would have been dead within two chapters. The basic plot is cribbed off of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, endless references to 80's pop cultural artifacts are substituted for creativity, and the main character is utterly unlikable. There were a few points where the author might have taken the literary road slightly less traveled, but he plays it straight (and cliched) every time.

I am loathe to skip anything when reading, but after the third straight chapter of near-endless infodump my husband insisted we jump forward to the point where something actually happens. Dialogue reads like a thirteen-year-old boy's IM conversation, and as an MMO player I would certainly know.

I picked this book up because I read to my husband on long trips, and having finished our last series we were looking for something new. This seemed perfect: gamer geekdom, D&D, epic quests, 80's stuff...we love all of those things and are deeply immersed in that culture.

Sadly, it turned out to be an overhyped litany of loosely-related 80's creative properties linked by a threadbare plot and the occasional political/environmentalist diatribe. Spend a little time in the real world Cline, and less time patting yourself on the back for being smarter/more informed than everyone else. ( )
  ArmchairAuthor | Jul 3, 2014 |
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the surface, it’s clever, moving, and a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the loads of geeky references, even the ones I didn’t necessarily understand. However, dig a little deeper and it’s full of old tropes and tired stereotypes that really weaken the overall impact of the story. For example, for the majority of the book, there is one female character, and although she’s a good character in her own right, it’s clear that she exists to be the love interest. She’s also the other “prize” that the main character “wins” at the end of the story (which is technically a spoiler, I guess, but seriously, tell me it wasn’t obvious from the very beginning). There had to be a better way to work that subplot. ( )
1 vote bluesalamanders | Jun 26, 2014 |
g ( )
  tmiddleton | Jun 26, 2014 |
Summary: Wade Watts is a high-school kid who spends all his time on the internet… or more accurately, in the internet. By 2044, the dwindling supply of natural resources means that everyday life for most people is pretty crappy, and so almost everyone takes refuge inside the OASIS, a virtual reality open-source platform that allows users to interact via avatars, attend school, play games, or visit recreations of their favorite worlds. The OASIS was originally designed by James Halliday, a brilliant but reclusive tech genius who, upon his death, announced he had hidden a series of secret "Easter eggs" somewhere within the OASIS, and that the first person to find all of them would win Halliday's fortune and control of his company. When Wade heard about the contest, he immediately devoted himself to solving Halliday's puzzles, becoming a dedicated "gunter" (egg-hunter). Halliday had a passion for all things 1980s, so Wade has been obsessively playing early arcade games, watching 80s movies, listening to 80s music, etc., for the past five years. In all that time, the scoreboard has remained blank - no one has been able figure out Halliday's first clue, not even the "sixers", minions of a corporation that's trying to seize control of the OASIS by any means necessary. But when Wade stumbles upon the first egg, he achieves immediate fame… and places himself in more danger than he realized, both in the virtual world and in the real one.

Review: After some initial misgivings, I wound up really, really enjoying this book. It is maybe a little too on the nose to call a book that is all about losing yourself in a virtual reality world "immersive", but this book was incredibly immersive; so much so that even weeks later I'm still thinking about the world of the OASIS and bits of the story.

I didn't get into this book immediately. I actually put it down for a week or so after listening only to the first chapter, since the depiction of the post-energy-crisis world was simultaneously too depressing and too plausible to make for the kind of listening experience that I wanted at the time. And even when I picked the book back up, it was pretty slow going for a while; there's a lot of infodumping up front about how the OASIS works and what its rules are and who Halliday was and his whole biography and what the rules of the game are and the history of the gunters and the clans and the sixers and all of the worldbuilding all the time. Stuff doesn't really start to happen (i.e. Wade doesn't start to figure out the clues) until about Chapter 7 or so, so that's a huge initial investment of time and mental space before you start getting any payoff.

But the good news is that once all the worldbuilding is done and the plot starts moving, it keeps moving, and it's a really engrossing story. I was a little worried that I wasn't going to get a lot of the references, since I have never played any MMORPGs or World of WarCraft or SecondLife or anything like that, nor am I particularly into video games in general… nor do I have much personal experience with early 80s pop culture. But it turned out that either I knew enough about those things to follow along, or Cline does a really good job of explaining them, because even though I hadn't seen a lot of the movies he references, or played a lot of the games (I did love me some PacMan, though), I still got really into Wade's search for the egg through the virtual versions of the 1980s. There are a few things where I think my lack of knowledge tripped me up a little - for example, if the OASIS is open-source, why does it cost money to build/buy things inside of it? - but in the grand scheme of things, they were pretty minor.

The audiobook production is really good as well. Wil Wheaton is a good narrator, well-matched to Wade's voice, and since he (and Cory Doctorow) are referenced in the book as being watchdogs of the future internet, that gave me a bit of a kick to hear him, as Wade, talk about himself. Overall, this book is fun, incredibly imaginative, and has some interesting (if not arrestingly novel) things to say about what happens to culture as it moves more and more into the digital virtual sphere. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Definitely highly recommended for gamers and other varieties of nerds, particularly those in their 30s & 40s who grew up in the 1980s… or others who have a fondness for arcades, classic D&D, and nerd culture. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Jun 11, 2014 |
LOVED this book. Highly recommend if you like: videogaming, retro computers, virtual reality, 1980s pop culture. ( )
  Jaynee | Jun 9, 2014 |
Ready Player One takes place in 2044 - the world is suffering from an energy crisis, a food shortage, and an economic decline, all creating a dystopia for all but the wealthy. But for anyone who has access, the virtual world of OASIS can be just that - an escape from reality - where you can create an avatar and be anyone you want, hunt for treasure, and even attend school. When the founder and creator of OASIS dies, he sets up a Willy Wonka-esque challenge - the first player to find his easter egg wins complete control of his company and fortune. Wade Watts wants nothing more than to escape his real life by winning the prize, but the contest is more dangerous than he ever imagined.

What I liked:
First off, this book is full of 80's pop culture references and detailed descriptions of old video games (as far back as the text-based ones that were available on early computers) and it gave me a serious sense of nostalgia! I didn't recognize every reference, but I was familiar with more content than I thought I would be. My hat is off to Cline for all the research (and nerdy fandom) that went into this book! I was often reminded of old shows I used to watch, or games I used to play and it was fun to see some of these references recreated in the world of OASIS for Wade to interact with. Wade was a wonderful protagonist and I enjoyed his manner of speech and personality; a nice mix of snarky, confident, self-deprecation and hopeless romantic. The rest of the characters were also well fleshed out and had surprising elements that I enjoyed (I don't want to give anything away!) Cline also did a wonderful job of creating the immensely detailed virtual world of OASIS as well as the harsh reality that Wade spends his time trying to avoid. He describes Wade's living environment, "the stacks", as numerous mobile homes and shipping bins stacked atop each other, sometimes 15-20 high, held together with "a reinforced modular scaffold, a haphazard metal latticework that had been constructed piecemeal over the years." These towers are unsafe, overcrowded and dangerous - not just the structures themselves, but the people living in them.

This book also had me thinking that a future similar to this could someday become a reality (hopefully not in my lifetime) - where the "real world" is so terrible that people depend on an escape provided by a fully immersive virtual world. In Cline's book, OASIS is accessed via a visor and haptic gloves that allow the used to see and sometimes feel the 3-d online world that was created. Users can explore thousands of different worlds and even create their own, if they have the money. Even OASIS isn't a perfect escape, as it's still profit driven and oftentimes Wade struggled with being poor both in his real life and his OASIS life. Yet he still craved that constant connection with OASIS - his only friends were the ones he met in this world, all people who spent countless hours connected into this virtual world, living the lives they've only dreamed of.

Later in the book Wade describes the expensive machines he's purchased so that he can better access OASIS, to the point where he doesn't have any body hair so that his immersive suit will fit him better. He becomes a total hermit - never leaving his apartment, even having his food delivered, so that he can spend most of his waking hours inside OASIS. He even says "The hour or so after I woke up was my least favorite part of each day, because I spent it in the real world." This line of thought was incredibly depressing, but very realistic. I realize that even today there are some people who prefer their "life" online and the anonymity and freedom that it can sometimes give.

Bonus: I also learned a new word while reading this book! Impecunious - having little or no money; penniless; poor.

What I didn't like:
At times Wade's extensive knowledge of all things 80's seemed far-fetched. He had multiple movies memorized almost completely - not just dialog, but movement as well - and he seemed to be a whiz at every video game he decided to play. I understand that he didn't have much to do in life other than memorize thousands of shows, movies, facts and game strategies, but at times I wondered if the human brain could really hold that much information. But really, this was a pretty minor issue.

I had this book on my radar since I read in article back in 2011, right before it released. I'm so glad I finally made a point to read it! I think even if you're not very familiar with 80's pop culture, this is still a fun read - it's a technology based dystopia with likeable characters and plenty of food for thought. There's also plenty of action. Give it a shot! ( )
  MillieHennessy | Jun 8, 2014 |
Disclaimer: I'm a product of the 80's and a (former) gamer. Therefore...

I had a great time reading this book.* For what it was—a tribute to 80's nostalgia and the modern gaming society—it was simply perfect. And if that's all you're looking for, or need, in a book, you've certainly come to the right place. This has it all. (1) 80's references aplenty (more in fact that I could even keep up with). I'd like to read it again just to find the hidden "easter eggs" that I missed the first time around. And (2) gaming technology and designs that would make even the most cutting edge gamer of today drool with catatonic envy. Will the world be on the brink of social, political and financial ruin in 30 years because of the energy crisis? I'd bet many of the gamers today wouldn't care if they could get their hands on a fully immersive virtual reality environment like OASIS where they could "live" instead.

On the other hand, it wasn't especially great writing. Lots of telling, instead of showing. Stock characters that didn't have much depth (beyond what the plot called for). Dramatic turns that really only served to propel forward the "gunter" storyline (gunter = egg hunter, i.e., those who were trying to solve the mystery in the game in the book). I think I can sum up the writing this way: it seemed as if Cline was simply describing a movie he could see in his head about this story which he had already worked out.

Okay, fine. To that end, I think it would make an awesome movie. And back to my first paragraph above, those of us looking for a great tribute to the 80's and gaming aren't simultaneously looking for John Steinbeck's flowing prose. Just saying I couldn't give it 5/5 stars, but it was still very entertaining.

* Actually I listened to it, and if you have a chance to do the same, you won't regret it. Will Wheaton's narration was excellent and the in-book reference to himself in the third person as an old "geezer" is priceless. ( )
1 vote invisiblelizard | Jun 1, 2014 |
It's a fairly typical dystopic future, 2044, where the world is just
really crappy and most people spend their time in the virtual reality
called OASIS. The inventor of OASIS, James Halliday, was a nerdy
recluse so when he died, he didn't have anyone to leave his incredibly
vast fortune to. What he did was make a game out of it. Anyone who
found and completed his puzzles in OASIS would inherit everything,
including control of OASIS. (It's in all caps every time it's
mentioned in the book. Slightly annoying.) However, he made it very,
very difficult--years go by and nobody finds anything. So anybody
who's serious about finding it obsessively studies everything Halliday
was obsessed with--so the book is absolutely full of 1980s music,
book, movie and especially video game references. ( )
  GrytaJME | May 27, 2014 |
A fun read, filled with 80s nostalgia. ( )
1 vote Michael.McGuire | May 22, 2014 |
Junto a Asimov, de lo mejor en Ciencia Ficción que he leído, te atrapa de principio a fin, muy recomendable. ( )
  Zeroth | May 19, 2014 |
Wade Watts lives a pretty crummy life, with an abusive aunt in dangerous shanty town of the future. Not that thing are much better for everyone else, after global economic disaster most of the population struggles every day to make ends meet. The world has an escape, however, and that is OASIS. It's a virtual reality simulation of an entire universe, full of endless possibilities. Though it was originally designed by a video game designer to function like an online role-playing game, even non-gamers began to visit the simulation to escape from the harsh realities of their personal lives.

When the developer of OASIS dies, he leaves behind a message. Somewhere in the infinite expanse of the simulation there is a hidden egg, and the one who finds it will inherit his fortune, an inconceivable amount of money that could alter the lives of million. Immediately much of the human population begins to seek it, Wade Watts included.

As a gamer, I adored this book! While I don't necessarily think understanding the world of games an MMORPGs is necessary to enjoy the book, it unquestionably heightened my enjoyment of it considerably. I find myself desperately wishing the OASIS was real, even though I know I would probably lose my life to it. Having played an online role-playing game in the past, I know how they can consume every ounce of free time you have, and devour your soul in the process. I don't care, I want it to be real!

There is really nothing that I didn't absolutely love about Ready Player One. I was even able to tolerate all the terrible 80's pop culture, which is both alarming and really quite impressive. My only disappointment is that it's over now, and I can never experience it for the first time again. ( )
1 vote Ape | May 7, 2014 |
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