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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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4,2854791,151 (4.22)3 / 509
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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Loved it! Wish there was more.... ( )
  GSB68 | May 19, 2015 |
If you've ever become irrationally obsessed with anything, you'll find a little piece of yourself in this book. If you also grew up in the 80s, you'll find a whole lot of pieces. Cline sets his cautionary tale in 2044, years after James Halliday, a Steve Jobs-like innovator, created a total immersion experience called The Oasis. Take our current society and fast forward 30 years - would you be surprised that people have become more interested in their virtual Oasis lives than in reality? Not only is it the ultimate escape through which you can shop, download any kind of entertainment, hold virtual meetings, or play a huge array of video games at a ridiculously low cost, it also allows for complete anonymity.

So, when the creator dies and leaves his considerable wealth to the person who can solve a series of virtual challenges, thousands all over the world become obsessed. Among them is Wade Watts, a geeky kid who feels more comfortable and confident in The Oasis than he ever has in real life. His avatar, Perzival, is a low level warrior but Wade spends countless hours studying Halliday's obsessions - vintage video games, 80s pop culture, and more - searching for clues to solving the challenge. Wade and his companions aren't just competing with each other. An evil conglomerate will do anything to win, gambling that Halliday's wealth also comes with control of The Oasis, and therefore, a vehicle for great profit.

Cline captures the nature of obsession thoroughly and uses an entertaining milieu to illuminate contemporary concerns such as the decline of personal interaction, the importance of net neutrality, corporate corruption, and even discrimination. Knowledge of the 80s is not necessary but the references serve as a fun wink-and-nod to those of us who came of age in the greatest pop culture decade. ( )
  bookappeal | May 17, 2015 |
Okay, so first off, I liked most of this novel. And there are spoilers in this review.

Where it goes sideways is how Cline tries to stuff every single 1980s reference and tiny bit of trivia and so much stuff in between the action that it really does bog it down, at least for me.

Also I did not believe for a second that Wade had enough time to do all the things he said he did, all the movies he watched, games he played, and music he listened to. It just seemed too impossible, too perfect that he knew everything about everything just at the right time. I would have liked him more if he were slightly more flawed.

The whole game itself seemed so completely... overly complex. I understood why but -- to me, it wasn't that fun. Wade seemed miserable most of the time, between the quest for the Egg and his strained relations with his friends, angst over Artemis, and being hunted down. This could have been a great, fast-paced race to the finish, where you have no idea who is actually going to win, after all. But it just wasn't.

I am not sure I would recommend it, but I know other people have enjoyed this book so if the premise seems interesting to you by all means, dive in.

Despite all this, I am interested in what Cline will come up with next! ( )
  thessaly | May 17, 2015 |
One of the very best books I've read so far in 2015. I'm also excited that Spielberg will be directing the film. But back to the book... The premise is its 2044 and a young 18 year old down on his luck has just hit the jackpot with finding the first hidden key in a simulated game. Finding all the keys will make the winner very rich. The book is filled with 80s nostalgia from video games to movies.

For the rest of the review, visit my blog at: http://angelofmine1974.livejournal.com/89149.html ( )
  booklover3258 | May 15, 2015 |
All the elements of a great and fast-paced read present themselves in this Science Fiction tale, soon to become a classic. Creative, prophetic, and absorbing, Cline's novel is this generation's "Ender's Game." A young man teams with others to complete a quest that will affect the outcome of a failing global society. If you read anything this summer, you should read this book. ( )
  Meghanista | May 12, 2015 |
Thee ultimate geek read. Really well done.

look its not Shakespeare but its a great quick fun read. ( )
  dham340 | May 10, 2015 |
This book was an entertaining ride. It had parts that had me laugh and possibly cheer out loud. While I do wish it went a little deeper into the societal impact of virtual reality (big red button!), this was a page turner. I enjoyed the gaming and '80s references. Thanks to the Nerdist Book Club for bringing this one to my attention. #nerdistbookclub And it is fantastic to finish a book you really like only to find out that Spielberg will be bringing it to the big screen. He's a great choice, considering so much of his work is referenced in this book. ( )
  EllsbethB | May 9, 2015 |
Surprisingly, one of the most exciting books I have read in a while. I learned a lot of stuff about video games that I probably wouldn't have known about otherwise. The OASIS is both terrifying and awe inspiring. While I would not want to live in the world Cline has created, I wouldn't mind a visit.

Also, I would have given it 5 stars but there was too much unnecessary angsty teen drama in the book for my liking. ( )
  katherineemilysmith | May 4, 2015 |
I had never heard of Ernest Cline before this book arrived at my door and now I am glad that I have. Having been there at the birth of the home computer revolution, owned a number of those pieces of plastic history that I remember with more fondness than any of my old girlfriends this book can only be described as Geek Porn. Why? Put simply it tickles every bit, pops every stack and loads my drive. It bytes!

Ready player one is written with such a depth of love for its subject that it reads like a digital historical novel. Yeh verily it is sooth. I could happily sit and read this all over again - right away. There is nothing in this book that I would change. The characters are believable teenagers with enough street cred to make them instantly viable in the real world. There is action on every page without it ever being overdone. Even the bad guy fits in his world of corporate greed as much as any that you could name in our world. Ernest Cline has crafted a story that I sincerely hope falls into cult lore right up there with the Rocky Horror Show.

You don’t have to be a geek to enjoy this book but if you are you even a tiny bit geeky (or a lover of all things 80’s) you’ll get so much more enjoyment from it. Others have tried and failed miserably to write stories like this one. Tron was a masterpiece of just this sort of idea its sequel however falls into that category of: oh dear. Like the last Indiana Jones movie, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I pretend that it never happened.

Ready Player One has leapt into my top twenty books along with the likes of Lord of the Rings, The Picture of Dorian Grey, The Invisible Man, The One Tree, and others of that ilk. Not because of its eloquence of words, its flowing language, or the rich vibrant, living world in which it dwells but because it just deserves to be there. Nuff said.

So, I can only give it that rarest of all accolades a bright shiny fully rendered 10/10. ( )
  MathewBridle | May 4, 2015 |
I'm a little too young for proper 80s nostalgia, but this was a fun read nonetheless. ( )
  maliora | Apr 24, 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 |
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 |
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