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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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3,9704381,290 (4.21)3 / 480
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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it's kind of the perfect relaxer book. esspecially if you work in IT. Highly recommended. ( )
  jovemako | Dec 25, 2014 |
[Cross-posted to Knite Writes]

Okay, so this book is basically a young (male) geek’s ultimate dream — from the smart, down-on-his-luck orphan protagonist to the kickass gamer girl who’s really only there to be a love interest to the impossible quests the protagonist somehow keeps winning despite all odds. Premise-wise, there is very little about this book that strays outside of today’s common “boy hero” tropes, and if it wasn’t for the incredible world-building and downright zany plot, Ready Player One would have fallen flatter than a pancake for me.

As it stands, I found this a pretty fun (but sometimes tedious) read.

Firstly, you need to be aware that this book contains more pop culture references than any other book you will ever read in your life. Video games. TV. Movies. Anime. Books. You name it, it’s in this story — and all of it is focused on the 80s. So, if you were born later than that, prepare to be lost on many occasions when the story goes off on a tangent regarding some piece of 80s trivia you are completely unaware of. Don’t worry, though, because most of the time the nature of the trivia in question is explained in detail.

Which brings me to my biggest criticism of the book — I think it’s best I get this out of the way early: this story suffers from a horrific amount of info-dumping. In my opinion, an unacceptable amount of info-dumping. Dumping that goes on for pages and pages and pages, to the point where it’s often easy to lose track of what’s actually happening with the plot because said plot has come to a virtual standstill. There are info-dumps as filler, info-dumps in the middle of action scenes, info-dumps at pivotal moments. Info-dumps. Info-dumps. Info-dumps. Everywhere!

And every last one is an in-depth explanation about an element of 80s pop culture the average person has no desire to know.

You’ve been warned.

If that doesn’t throw you off attempting this book, though, then let’s move on.

Despite the info-dumpy nature of the narrative, it actually proves to be a fairly fun read as time goes on. The OASIS contains so many elements from so many shows, movies, books, anime, etc. all combined into one, massive world that you’ll have a hard time not smiling at the abundance of references strewn about as the plot progresses. Reading some of the battle scenes made my day — because, more often than not, the battles involved objects from a variety of fiction I was familiar with. Picturing such vastly different things being involved in the same fights amused me to no end.

The OASIS in this book is basically a simultaneous crossover of every single piece of fiction (across all mediums) ever created. It’s pretty fascinating. And makes for a great setting for the majority of the book.

The characters, on the other hand, were a little lacking in the originality department. I didn’t like how Art3mis ended up relegated to love interest more and more as the book went on. I didn’t like how shallow and underdeveloped most of the major characters were. The bad guys were the fairly generic “evil corporation” types often present in cyberpunk and other futuristic sci-fi; there wasn’t anything particularly special about Sorrento or his vast, anonymous army of Sixers.

That being said, however, I did think the main characters made for an interesting gang of heroes (even with their lack of development), and the final showdown against the antagonists is pretty spectacular (even with their generic nature).

Overall, I found this book a mixed bag — in the end, it was an enjoyable read, but there were a lot of parts (i.e., the info-dumps) I found tedious to get through, to the point where I occasionally ended up skimming a few passages here and there. The plot fulfills the premise in an unfortunately straightforward way and doesn’t deviate at all from some pretty tired tropes about boy heroes and rags-to-riches stories; despite this issue, though, it still builds a fairly interesting and engaging narrative. Lastly, the characters are lacking in a lot of ways, but, thanks largely to the amazing setting, are able to hold interest throughout the story.

A decent read, in my opinion, but nothing to write home about. ( )
  TherinKnite | Dec 11, 2014 |
This book at first was fantastic. I loved the eighties theme and the references were cool (in a geeky way). But the ending fizzled where I wanted it to entertain. It was a disappointment. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
The concept of the virtual reality contest is a good one. I didn't think the author would be able to make it intense because it is virtual reality, but he did well at raising the stakes. ( )
  SebastianHagelstein | Nov 30, 2014 |
This book is like reading an adaptation of Tron, meets Hackers, meets War Games, meets VH1's Pop Up Video. If you like the 1980s and/or Sci-Fi, this is the book for you!

In the future, the internet has become a completely Virtual Reality, interactive experience: you work, play, go to school (if you're lucky) online. And it's ll thanks to the genius of James Halliday. When Halliday passes away, he leaves a message and an Easter egg behind somewhere in the vastness of the internet, now dubbed the OASIS, and the one who finds it will inherit the rights to the whole shebang.

We follow the life and story of the avatar known as Parzival, real world name Wade. Parzival, or "Z", as his best friend calls him, is a poor senior who lives and breathes the world of the OASIS and the search for the Halliday Egg. He is what they call a Gunter, and the Gunters are trying desperately to find the egg before the evil corporation IOI and their "Sixers," thus dubbed for the 6-digit ID codes they are known by.

The sixers intend to turn the OASIS into a completely commercial place, while Halliday, the gunters, and specifically our hero want to keep it an open source place where, yes, money is important to improve your avatar and get where you're going in the OASIS, but it's not completely necessary to have an OASIS experience, as we see as we watch Z.

For me, the draw of this book was the references to really great music, movies and games of the 80s and 90s. Among the greats referenced were "War Games," "Firefly" (and it's movie counterpart "Serenity"), "Pac-Man," "Blade Runner," "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," and on, and on, and on... Plus, it goes pretty in depth into the history of Role Playing games in general, both online and book-based/table-top gaming.

It is a story from a teenagers point of view, so it deals with nerddom and the inherent inability to fit in that most Nerds/Geeks experience, and it does have the necessary love story of two nerds falling in love. The obvious Corporate Menace of IOI and the Sixers completes the formula to create a really great story. There are elements of dystopia, sci-fi, and fantasy (the entire internet is an RPG, how can you not have some fantasy going on?), complete with an aged wizard. It is a quest story that follows Campbell's archetypal Hero's journey, and it's just freaking awesome!

If I had to make any complaint, it would be the ending, which could have been stolen directly from one of the few movies that wasn't referenced: "Hackers." We come nearly to the end of the quest, and in order to defeat the evil Corporate menace, our hero and his group of barely legal young adults needs the help of the entire Gunter world. Had Art3mis (the love interest) suggested it, it would have almost been a direct match. I believe someone even uses the phrase "Gunter army" in the same way Angelina Jolie's character in "Hackers" refers to a "Hacker army." Also, it comes down to just one Gunter vs. the Sixers, and we watch his progress as all the hackers watched young Joey as he got close enough to complete the mission at the end of "Hackers." I did wonder, for only a brief moment, if that was why "Hackers" wasn't mentioned, so no one would make the connection.

Otherwise, it was a really good idea. Not sure it was totally original, but it was done in a really great way. Had me glued to the end. ( )
  LadyLiz | Nov 25, 2014 |
This books was excellent! I got sucked in immediately. Loved the characters, loved the plot, such an original book! I especially loved teh plethora of nerd references, and always patted myself on the back when I got them.

I hadn't realised Cline also wrote Fanboys, which is one of my all time favorite movies. I can not wait for his next book to come out next year.

5 shiny, gleaming stars. ( )
  ariel.kirst | Nov 14, 2014 |
An homage to all things geeky and 80's disguised as a spec-fic story. It's like it was written just for me. ( )
  rockinghorsedreams | Nov 13, 2014 |
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 | Nov 5, 2014 |
Very entertaining ( )
  scullybert | Oct 27, 2014 |
I loved it. Absolutely chock full of pop culture references, and absolutely lovely plot line. Perfect amount of action and so many twists. I personally wasn't a big fan of the lovey dovey mushy gushy bits, but oh my goodness the plot twists were amazing. Sorry- quick synopsis: A really rich, socially inept game designer dies. He leaves his fortune to the one person who discovers all the Easter eggs hidden in his most successful, interactive world- Oasis. Our narrator is the first person to find the bronze key. It only gets better from there. Definitely worth the read. ( )
  Rosenstern | Oct 25, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this one, but it didn't quite earn the 5 stars.

It's a pulpy, nerdy 80s culture romp and it's shameless with it, we're talking Firefly class ship travelling at warp speed through a Stargate, ok? It's not subtle with its theme, it's rapid-fire all nerd and culture references all the time. The egg hunt story was a cool idea and while it didn't bring much to the table in terms of new and exciting plot structure the world was vivid and really fun. The characters were interesting and a little bit flawed when they needed to be, I wouldn't go so far as to say "memorable" as individuals, though.

A personal bugbear was the amount of cliched phrases in the writing. It could just be that I did it on audiobook and it was more noticeable that way but my god there were lots!

Speaking of audiobooks, Wil Wheaton was the correct choice and arguably the only choice to narrate this and he was great. No-one else could have convincingly portrayed the required geeky enthusiasm. Hearing him name check himself was also fun.

TL:DR - fun pulpy romp, do the audiobook, watch out for low flying cliches and fast flying culture references. ( )
  heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this one, but it didn't quite earn the 5 stars.

It's a pulpy, nerdy 80s culture romp and it's shameless with it, we're talking Firefly class ship travelling at warp speed through a Stargate, ok? It's not subtle with its theme, it's rapid-fire all nerd and culture references all the time. The egg hunt story was a cool idea and while it didn't bring much to the table in terms of new and exciting plot structure the world was vivid and really fun. The characters were interesting and a little bit flawed when they needed to be, I wouldn't go so far as to say "memorable" as individuals, though.

A personal bugbear was the amount of cliched phrases in the writing. It could just be that I did it on audiobook and it was more noticeable that way but my god there were lots!

Speaking of audiobooks, Wil Wheaton was the correct choice and arguably the only choice to narrate this and he was great. No-one else could have convincingly portrayed the required geeky enthusiasm. Hearing him name check himself was also fun.

TL:DR - fun pulpy romp, do the audiobook, watch out for low flying cliches and fast flying culture references. ( )
  heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this one, but it didn't quite earn the 5 stars.

It's a pulpy, nerdy 80s culture romp and it's shameless with it, we're talking Firefly class ship travelling at warp speed through a Stargate, ok? It's not subtle with its theme, it's rapid-fire all nerd and culture references all the time. The egg hunt story was a cool idea and while it didn't bring much to the table in terms of new and exciting plot structure the world was vivid and really fun. The characters were interesting and a little bit flawed when they needed to be, I wouldn't go so far as to say "memorable" as individuals, though.

A personal bugbear was the amount of cliched phrases in the writing. It could just be that I did it on audiobook and it was more noticeable that way but my god there were lots!

Speaking of audiobooks, Wil Wheaton was the correct choice and arguably the only choice to narrate this and he was great. No-one else could have convincingly portrayed the required geeky enthusiasm. Hearing him name check himself was also fun.

TL:DR - fun pulpy romp, do the audiobook, watch out for low flying cliches and fast flying culture references. ( )
  heaven_star | Oct 20, 2014 |
Geekgasm ( )
  Gobbers | Sep 28, 2014 |
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. ( )
  KatieEmilySmith | Sep 23, 2014 |
4.5 Stars

What a fun read! 80's nostalgia mixed with virtual reality from the the 2040's turned out to be something a I really enjoyed. Now don't get me wrong, this is not the book if you are looking for literary fiction and I am pretty sure it was not written to be. It is what I like to call escapist fiction (books written that spur your imagination).

It regales in references from 1980's television, movies, music, books and (especially) video games so if you are a fan of this decade (or even if you were just along for the ride), you will find lot's of familiar names to stimulate memories that make you smile (or at least they did for me). In addition, the main theme of the story is a virtual reality world that is an expanded (and greatly enhanced) version of a MMORPG.

I can recommend this book any fan for "fun read" science fiction or fantasy. I will look to read additional content by the author.


( )
  ConalO | Sep 21, 2014 |
Really a youth sci fi book, but also a paean to 1980s geek culture. I would have liked it more if I were really steeped in all things geek back then (I'm a few years older than the author, so I never got into the anime craze, etc. But I remember lots of the movies and TV shows referenced).

Cool concept, well fleshed out. It imagines a world in which a virtual reality game has basically sucked up everything, leaving lots of people living only for the fantasy world... but it's not clear that that is a bad thing! Great companion to The Unincorporated Man, which includes reference to a history in which virtual reality destroyed the world economy. It seems to be doing the same thing here, but strangely that's not what the book is about! Maybe in a sequel. ( )
  DanTarlin | Sep 18, 2014 |
Tons of fun. As a child of the 80's and a (reformed ha!) gamer, this book was highly enjoyable despite some plot weaknesses here and there. Loved it. ( )
  dulcinea14 | Sep 18, 2014 |
Through five chapters it reads like a Cory Doctorow novel with the didactic bits excised. That isn't actually a bad thing, even though I prefer CD's work. This is an excellent YA TITLE & Wil Wheaton is the ideal narrator.


At the end, the whole thing held up well. It really was a geek-nostalgia love-fest, but it didn't. Fail to deliver. Light reading for certain, but good light reading. I'll be looking forward to seeing what Mr. Klein does w/ his career. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
OMG...I adore this book. Between the video game and pop culture references and the dystopia....I could not put it down.

Basically, everyone lives online, or is there for all their freetime in the OASIS. Costs a quarter to join and you can live your second life. Halliday, the creator of OASIS, dies and leaves the ownership of OASIS up for grabs. But you have to beat his game. And everyone is trying to win. Become rich and own the OASIS? Who wouldn't? However, evil corporations are also trying to win and make it a pay for play site and full of ads...Wade, a young man with nothing to lose finds the first key and now everyone is looking for him.

It is so much better than I can even describe. Pick it up and get lost in this novel. ( )
  bookwormteri | Sep 16, 2014 |
Fast paced and exciting.
I was seriously engaged in the characters and the Hunt the entire time, even to the point where I was frustrated with Wade for slacking off in between the Copper and Jade Gates.

I've seen this book lurking around for a while in a ton of recommendation lists, but I've always ignored it because I usually think pop culture references in books are a little tacky, especially if you're not well-versed in them. And I'm not exactly a child of the 80's. I knew maybe half of the references. But still, that didn't stop this from being a fantastic book.

I love the concept of Easter Eggs in video games put into play in an entire world-wide virtual reality. The pacing of the gate discoveries were great and I like how there was some, but not overwhelming, amounts of romance.
But really, this book has a little bit of everything. A dash of romance, an adventure with a hidden secret, a villain, undercover adventures, etc. I thought it was pretty fantastic how the Wade had to do some real legwork in the real world for the quest when he has to take down the main villain's support.

There are just some really fantastic scenes. The Pacman game with that quarter, the use of giant robots, the actual final Crystal Gate, etc. all come to mind.

I do wish that more emphasis was given on the real world, especially since it seems to be dissolving around their ears with lack of resources and tons of pollution. But I guess that's a little impossible within one book and completely understandable it's not there.

4 stars. Highly recommended. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Originally posted in a review blog of sorts..."

...

What do you get if you took World of Warcraft, the Sims, and The Surrogates and mixed them in a blender for 80 seconds? If you said that you’d get a world where you could control your own ‘Sim’ in a huge massively multiplayer online world, where you can go on quests, hang out with friends, and even go to school. And in this world, it allows players to be anything that they wanted to be. A hotter body, sure. An awesome warrior with cool weapons and has huge muscles, of course. A player, in both senses, whatever you want you can get. The world offers a better you, a better life, a better world, so much so that some people spend their entire time in the online world that they forget about the real world.

If this was your answer, then you’d be correct. You’d also be correct if you said that you’d get the delightful debut novel, Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.
When James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, passes away it kicks off contest like no other. Since he was never married and has no offspring or friends, his entire fortune is up for grabs. And what better way to do this then with a game? In his will, he left a puzzle. Solve it and you get to do a quest, once you do that, you get another puzzle. Solve that and you do a question...I think you get the idea.

The only way to get this is if you immerse yourself in all things Halliday. He loved the 80s, so even though the year is 2040, the 80s made a huge comeback. The more you know the better chance you have at winning the inheritance and gaining total control over OASIS.

The main character, Wade, goes on this quest, but finds that the further he gets into this puzzle, the deadly it becomes for him, not only in OASIS, but in the real world to.

~-.-~

Overall:

Ready Player One has a lot of great things going for it. As a gamer, I loved reading about the world that Cline created and seeing how it affected everyday life. Even though I didn’t grow up in the 80s, I did get a lot of the pop culture references and what not. Just a note, there is a lot of 80s references. A lot.

The story, as a whole, is fairly interesting. On one hand, it’s exciting and seeing how Wade figures out the puzzles was fun to read. But on the other hand, the book did tend to tell you things instead of showing them to you. I think with this book it was a bit hard to not have an info dump here and there, because of the nature of the story. I just wish that the info dumps weren’t so much. I wanted to read more about what Wade was doing and even learn more about his dystopian world.

The characters are a bit hit and miss too. I found Wade annoying and stupid, but he was an interesting character. But I think the main problem is that the good guys are clearly labelled; and therefore, they don’t have as much depth to them as I would have liked. The same goes with the bad guys. The Sixers, minus the head honcho, had no personality. The main villain was a touch over the top. You do get some development, but not as much as I'd like.

I think my biggest con of this book is the first few pages. In the prologue, Wade tells us that he was the winner of the competition and is writing this book in order to set the record straight. I felt like this kind of took away from the climax of the story. Instead of wondering whether Wade makes it or not, I already knew that he got it. The sense of surprise was taken out.

This may seem like I hated the novel, but I didn't. I actually liked the story and felt like Cline did a great job for his debut novel. There are problems, but I did like the premise and the gamer in me had fun reading this. I'll be looking forward to Cline's next novel. Definitely check this one out.

3.5 stars ( )
  pdbkwm | Sep 8, 2014 |
Loved this book! It's my fave or all the ones I've read this year. The author has a mixtape list on his website of all the songs mentioned in the book.

http://www.ernestcline.com/blog/2011/09/21/the-official-ready-player-one-soundtr... ( )
  kwbridge | Sep 6, 2014 |
In the year 2044, reality is ugly & the only place of refugee is the online world of Oasis, a virtual utopia (like the Sims games). When the creator dies and leaves behind a maze of puzzles and riddles based on 1980s trivia, Wade’s new mission is to crack the code and win before the evil corporate clones do.

Read more at: http://thenovelworld.com/2014/07/14/ready-player-one-by-ernest-cline/ ( )
  TheNovelWorld | Sep 5, 2014 |
Absolutely fantastic book. If you enjoy gaming, the 80's, or a dystoptian future scape this book is for you. I found its relevance to today's news unsettling but it does show the perceptiveness of the author. Overall, a fantastic read and I really couldn't put it down the entire time I read. ( )
  tklos88 | Aug 27, 2014 |
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