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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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5,340568822 (4.22)3 / 579
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 fun and worth reading, but I didn't like the subtext. There's too much 1980s nerd culture (I say this as a nerd who remembers the 1980s), and glorification of a selfish billionaire. I read it a few years ago, and now I can't remember exactly why I didn't like Halliday, but the way he chose who was worthy to inherit his estate & corporation seemed immoral to me. In other words, I had a problem with the fundamental premise.

But the plot and main characters are likable, it moves along at a face pace, and that was enough to cover up the deeper problems for me. ( )
  Abby_Goldsmith | Feb 10, 2016 |
If you lived during the 80's and liked games this is the golden book for you. Back then I wasn't the geekiest around, but even though this book brought back a world of memories while having a page turning story. ( )
  Leticia.Toraci | Feb 10, 2016 |
I enjoyed this book a lot. That said, I feel like it has a very narrow audience; a reader much younger (or older) than me would probably miss a lot, and a reader geekier than I would probably like it even more. But if you were around for 80s pop culture, you'll get something out of this.

In the near future, a virtual reality world has taken over pop culture. Gaming, socializing, even school classes take place in this MMO environment. It only adds to the popularity when the fabulously wealthy designer of this interface dies - and leaves his entire fortune to the person who follows the clues and wins the secret video game he's hidden in easter eggs in his virtual world.

The deceased programmer was a child of the 80s, so his clues are all based in 80s video games, movies, music and other pop culture references - which spawns a massive cultural retro fad for all things 80s, which creates an odd veneer on this dystopian future landscape (things aren't doing too well, out IRL.) Communities of people devoted to playing the game spring up - but, with that much money at stake, evil corporate interests also have an eye toward winning.

Wade (known as Parzival online), a poor but fully geeky boy, becomes one of the leading players of the game, hoping to leverage his videogame skills and his in-depth knowledge of 80s trivia into success. With the help of his friends - whom he's never actually met - he goes up against the Borg-like Sixers (paid corporate hackers) - and soon gets in deeper than he'd expected.

The book's a fun adventure, but it also has a lot to say about both the good and the bad aspects of today's increasingly wired environment; the pitfalls and the benefits of online identities, and how the 'virtual' can also be quite real.

One thing that struck me while reading the book, however, which wasn't really discussed as deeply as it could've been, is the limitations inherent in fandom. The author is clearly, as we could say himself, a 'fanboy,' as are his characters. However, the author has now created his own art, in the form of this book, and his other creative output. However, his characters don't. They spend hours obsessing over and memorizing trivia. The can play pre-programmed video game routines flawlessly. They can recite all the dialogue to movies that others created, lyrics to songs others wrote. They immerse themselves in virtual worlds that others designed. This may apply to today's 'geeks' as well, but in the book it's much more glaring because for these characters it's practically ancient history, decades removed - their grandfather's pop culture. Not much new and creative seems to be going on at all; the world is kind of falling apart, while people escape into VR. There's a fun, rich aspect to this fandom - but also a desperation, and a stagnant, stifling side.

I forgot to mention: the 'armchair treasure hunt' aspect to the video game contest made me remember the book, 'Masquerade' from my childhood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masquerade_(book). I thought it was funny that the book didn't make even a passing mention of book-oriented puzzles of this sort, that were very popular in the 80s.

(revisiting for book club, 5/15) ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This is absolutely the best book I have read this year. It has instantly jumped to my top 10 books of all time. It was an exciting read that brought back so many memories. If your formative years were the eighties, you will enjoy the trip this book will take you on. If you were a geek, a nerd, or just a plain freak during that time, you will love this book.
It brought up memories of the very first time I played D&D in my friend's dimly lit basement. The wonder and the endless possibilities that were presented to me. My world changed at that moment and it was nice to remember what that felt like.
I so want to gather up a bucket of quarters and seek out the classic games that I have long forgotten.
I am looking forward to see what Ernest Cline has in store for us next.
BTW... I firmly believe that the IOI is Apple. Apple is the embodiment of evil! ( )
  beertraveler | Feb 5, 2016 |
Loved this book! It is set in a future where most people spend their lives in a virtual reality world called the Oasis. The real world has been completely neglected and is over crowded and falling into ruin. The genius who created the Oasis dies and leaves behind a puzzle. The person who finds the egg and solves the puzzle will inherit the fortune he left behind and control of the Oasis. Solving the puzzles will require extensive knowledge of the creator and the decade he loved, the 1980's. This book was a fun, quick read. The 80's references were fun and just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, well, you'll see.... ( )
  Jadedog13 | Feb 3, 2016 |
Narrated by Wil Wheaton (yes, the very one!). Ernest Cline must have grown up in the '80s, because this book is a tribute and high five to the pop culture of that decade, from movies to music and especially video games. Geeks of all stripes--computer, gaming, role-playing--will be immersed in Wade's world and the lure of living in the Oasis, and they'll likely look up many of the influential works that Wade passionately refers to. ("War Games" among them, my fave!) Wil Wheaton gives perfect and picturesque voice to Wade, a young man absorbed in the online world and focused on Halliday's contest, but who also has a sense of burgeoning humanity in the real world. Although I am no gaming freak, I enjoyed being in Wade's world and hearing all the pop cultural stuff I grew up with. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Enjoyable romp through 80s popular culture. ( )
  kale.dyer | Feb 2, 2016 |
4.5 really. Totally awesome book for anyone who experienced the 80's. I was not a big gamer, but I hung with guys that played games so I could relate to a lot of it. I was surprised at the strength of anime in the 70's and 80's, I thought it was a more recent thing, but hey, what did I know of the world at that time. The tag of sci-fi or dystopian is almost not relevant here - to me anyway - we are so close to the technological bits...it seems just a few steps away. I really liked the part where he got a real gun...seems like the safeguards that were built in would be a pretty darn useful thing today...just sayin'. Don't avoid this book because you don't think you like the genre - I think it transcends genre. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
I understand why this shows up as the number 1 science fiction book (I did not expect it). Well told. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
This was required reading for a Sci-Fi workshop I am attending for my job. I will say it was better than Enders Game but still not a favorite. Life inside a huge virtual world filled with 1980s references and video game descriptions is not my cup of tea. It was however well written but overly detailed for my tastes. In Enders Game I felt like I never got to connect with any of the characters or care much for them. At least in this story I was able to get a feeling for the characters and cheer them on as they fought through the game. ( )
  Erika.D | Jan 28, 2016 |
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, although I must admit I fit the target demographic nicely. Being a nerdy video game player who was a teen in the 80s made this futuristic, sci-fi adventure a trip down nostalgia lane for me. Set in an Idiocracy-like future where the best part of life is spent online, Ready Player One is a page-turning adventure for the cyber-age. ( )
  CMSkiera | Jan 26, 2016 |
Not my favorite book. I only knew a few of the movies and video games referenced. Pretty cool concept though. ( )
  baumallison | Jan 25, 2016 |
If you Loved Sword Art Online then you will love Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. http://ifyouloved.tumblr.com/post/39236007628/readyplayerone

Take a generation of computer and video role playing fanatics, set it to Now That’s What I Call the 80s and you would have Ready Player One. OASIS is the virtual reality platform that the entire world is jacked in to. On it there is a server for anything the human mind can dream up.

Right before the creator, James Halliday, died he set up a scavenger hunt of epic proportions with three keys and three corresponding gates that could be hidden anywhere game. The grand prize is financial and creative control over all of OASIS. Like many other players Wade Watts has been attempting to decipher the clue to the first key for years and he is an expert in 80s pop culture and arcade games.

Bonus: Ready Player One is a standalone book, which is both rare and excellent and Wil Wheaton narrated the audiobook!

Other recommendation: The .hack series of games and anime ( )
1 vote LadyBill | Jan 23, 2016 |
The back of the book has this review beginning, "A nerdgasm..." , and that's just what it is! if you love the 80's, video games, and D&D, you'll get a kick out of this book! War Games, Rush, Monty Python, Ultraman, and Joust are just some of the mentions that gave me a kick! no time for love, Dr. Jones! ( )
1 vote Stahl-Ricco | Jan 22, 2016 |
  adamwtate | Jan 21, 2016 |
Today's book club discussion was on "Ready Player One" which we all found to be enjoyable for a "dystopic" near future. Perhaps this was due to the deep down geeks in each of us and the amazing amount of 80's trivia the author used to move the story along. There was much to laugh about and many similarities to today's youth lost in their online game-playing obsessions. Most of us were not familiar with gaming past the age of Pac-Man but found the story telling compelling and a fairly quick read. The protagonist lived a mundane life until he discovers a little game where his natural abilities excel and his need to open up to partners creates a new and valuable reality. The author ERNEST CLINE has an active website http://readyplayerone.com/ and resides in Austin, Texas. ( )
1 vote catscritch | Jan 20, 2016 |
☊ ???? (???? for the book ????? for the audio recording)

Wade Owen Watts, aka Parzival, is an orphan living with his aunt and a dozen or so others at the top of a stack in a trailor park in 2044 in the American mid-west. His aunt takes his food vouchers, the only reason she took him in after his mother died, but he manages to feed himself by finding, fixing and selling electronics to pawn shops. People can earn food vouchers, but people can also earn credits in the OASIS and millions conduct their businesses in virtual reality.

Wade attends school online in the virtual reality known as Oasis and he is also a Gunter. Gunters are people who, for the past five years, have been trying to find three keys and get through three gates in the OASIS in order to find an egg left by the late OASIS creator, James Halliday, aka Anorak, because the first person to do so automatically becomes Halliday’s sole heir, other than his former business partner who inherited a collection of vintage arcade games. His only friend is his online pal, Aech, although he has a foolish and hopeless crush on the Gunter blogger, Art3mis.

After 5 years, Parzival is the first to get through the first gate, the first to be entered on the top scorer board, and that’s when things become dangerous. Not because Art3mis and Aech are the next to Gunters through the gate, or because two Japanese Gunters, Shoto and Daito, are next. Not because of his uncaring aunt or anyone at his virtual school. Not because of the Gunter clans vying to win and split the prize, because he finally makes the top level of avatar. Not because he is acting like an idiot, although he is, a bit, with his crazy crush on Art3mis. No, it’s because the IOI, the world’s most powerful corporation that owns almost all of the telecommunications industry, including most of the internet access and with the power to have indentured employees for those who default on credit loans from them is also interested in obtaining that same egg. They have scores of employees attempting to win, and will stop at nothing in virtual reality nor in real life in order to win and then have global domination of all of the internet.

Will Wade/Parzival or one of his fellow sole Gunters win? Will Wade survive online and/or offline with all body parts and ethics in tact? How will you know if you don’t read or listen to this book for yourself? Remember, reading spoilers is cheating, and who wants to be like the IOI?
( )
  Karin7 | Jan 20, 2016 |
It's funny -- this book is kind of built upon a bit of a dated concept. The future's a wasteland and everyone spends most of their time inside a shared virtual space. Which I think Second Life has proven in *not* a direction humanity is headed. Turns out we are more interested in bringing technology into the real world (iPhones, location-based social media) and less interested in recreating reality in digital spaces (Second Life).

That aside.

It's actually a pretty fun read. It's fast. It's got a good hook: Rich man dies, sets up a game, the winner of which becomes heir to his fortune. And, yeah, it's just a well-drawn story. Worth reading.

And it's funny, because I'm also not someone who find the fetishization of media all that interesting, and this book is head-to-toe 80s references. But even that came off as something more charming than I would've expected. ( )
  chasing | Jan 18, 2016 |
When computer genius, James Halliday, dies he does not leave his fortune or control of the virtual reality universe, he created (called the Oasis) to an heir. Instead, he created a contest within the Oasis where the first to find the hidden egg wins all his money and his company. James Halliday loved the 1980s and those searching for the hidden egg immerse themselves in 80s pop culture in order to figure out the clues left by Halliday. Wade is a high school student who has devoted his life to the contest. In the real world, he is an orphan without a real home. He would rather spend his time in the Oasis than in the reality where war over scarce resources is causing society to collapse. The book is full of memories from the eighties. Although I was not familiar with all of the references, I still had a great time listening to this audio book, which was read by Wil Wheaton. The book was a lot of fun. Although there were questions about the nature of society's dependence on virtual realities at the expense of reality, the book did not take itself too seriously. There was a lot of adventure and the good guys were easy to like and root for. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a fun adventure. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 17, 2016 |
This is a story set in the future(2040-45) where the world is going downhill, and there are a lot of unhappy people. And so, since technology has progressed so quickly, there is a way that people can escape into Virtual Reality and basically live their lives online. And there is an emphasis on video gaming. Wade, the main character, goes to school at a virtual high school (It's pretty interesting!!). Well, the main story is that during Wade's early high school years, the creator of a lot of the Virtual Reality technology dies. Since he doesn't have any friends or family to leave his money to (approximately $250 BILLION!!!), he sets up an extravagant video game. Whoever finds the hidden "Easter Egg" in a maze of different video games wins all the money....WOW! Part of the fun is that this creator grew up in the 1980's, so everyone must study all of this man's favorite games, music, movies, and TV shows from the 1980s. Brings back a lot of memories!! So at the beginning everyone has been trying to find the Easter Egg for about five years. And it goes on from there, because, of course, this all becomes highly political with different groups hiring people to play the game for money and agree to split the prize. While a lot of independent gamers are still trying to play & win on their own. Wade tells this story in first person, and since he is so likable and smart, it makes for a really fun and exciting story!! I see that Steven Spielberg is planning to put a movie out by December, 2017. I can't wait!!! ( )
  TerriS | Jan 17, 2016 |
Utterly, utterly amazing! This is only January but I'll be hard-pressed to find a book that will pass this as the number one book of my year! There are thousands of reviews of this so I'll come at this a little differently. I actually read Armada first, when it came out and I enjoyed it but now I really understand why readers were underwhelmed with it as a second book. Honestly, Cline will probably always find his future writing compared as never quite reaching the heights of this, his first novel. He genuinely hit the mark with his first novel. This doesn' just have lots of eighties references, the whole thing is virtual immersion into eighties geek culture. Having come of age in the eighties myself, and now thinking of them as my glory days I sooooo get this book and pretty much remembered playing every Atari game, Arcade game, freaking over every song, loving every movie, TV show, etc. My best friend even had a ColecoVision! Just a fantastic story and I absolutely cannot wait for the movie! So glad it's a Spielberg vehicle! Just awesome! ( )
  ElizaJane | Jan 17, 2016 |
The year is 2044 and the world is an unpleasant and grim place. Famine and poverty are rampant, and to escape the bleakness of real life most people choose to enter the world of OASIS. The OASIS had been created by an inventor and reclusive billionaire named James Halliday. When he died without an heir, a challenge was set in motion. Halliday has hidden an Easter egg somewhere in the OASIS, and left behind diabolically difficult clues. Whoever solves the clues to complete three virtual challenges and find the egg will win his vast estate. In the five years since the challenge began much of world has become consumed with the hunt. Many people are professional egg hunters, or "gunters," as they are known. They spend their days and nights immersed in the popular culture that made up James Halliday's formative years (the 70's and 80's). It's believed that knowing what he knew will be the key to winning.

Our hero, Wade Watts or, as he's known in the OASIS, Parzival, is an 18 year old who has only known misery in the real world. He has spent five years hunting Halliday's Easter egg and mastering every bit of obscure '80's trivia he can find to try to solve the puzzle. Parzival's friends Aech, Art3mis, Daito and Shoto are also gunters and his friendly competition. The evil villain comes from Innovative Online Industries, led by the ruthless Nolan Sorrento. He wants his company to find the egg so they can rule over the OASIS and charge monthly fees, pick up revenue and end the guaranteed anonymity of the OASIS. IOI will stop at nothing to reach the egg first.

Ready Player One will appeal to all kinds of people, especially those who remember the 80's and the first computer consoles and games. The story begins at a fairly slow pace to set up the character and setting, becomes a fast paced thrill ride. It keeps you hanging on trying to solve the riddles right along with Wade. The supporting characters were fun and likable though the majority of the story revolves around Wade.

I give the book 4 stars for the action packed last quarter and an additional half star for the narration by Wil Wheaton. He made the story come alive for me. This book may have it's fans and it's critics but it will still be one of my favorites this year for pure enjoyment. I've learned one important thing from this book: The Geek Will Inherit the Earth.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
It's 2044 and the world is an overcrowded and dark place to live. Oasis, a virtual reality utopia, is where most people go to escape. You can go to thousands of worlds--and it feels real! When the creator of the Oasis and many other video games dies, he leaves control of his company and his immense fortune to anyone who can solve his puzzles to find the "easter egg" he's hidden in Oasis. While likely to be most enjoyed by computer/video/arcade game "geeks", I think this will appeal to anyone who grew up near the 1980's and had any interest in the culture of the times--not just games and computers. I never played video or arcade games (not even Pac Man) and never owned an Atari, but I still enjoyed this book immensely! It's a great homage to 1980's pop culture (actually it covers some of the 70's and 90's as well). So many fun memories came to me while reading this--my favorite of all the references was to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but if you have fond memories from television, movies, or music of the times it's probably mentioned in here. I read this via audio book and Wil Wheaton was an excellent choice. I've no doubt that his narration is the reason why it got 5 stars from me. ( )
  Bluebird1 | Jan 16, 2016 |
In the not too distant future the sprawling world of Oasis is the computer destination for nearly everyone on earth. Your avatar is free to roam thousands of planets and scenarios, meet other avatars, even attend school. Before the Oasis creator, James Halliday, died he left instructions in his virtual will that whoever could find the Easter egg planted somewhere in Oasis would inherit his vast fortune. Gamers the world over have been trying for years to locate the egg and Wade Watts, a 18-year-old computer whiz-kid, finds the first clue to the location. Suddenly a renewed interest in finding the egg has spurred a competition that Wade is nearly unprepared for. Along with his cyber buddies, H and Artemis, he will battle sinister forces to try to find the hidden egg first.
What a fun story this was. I really enjoyed all of the video game references as well as the 1980's music and tv memories. This was a rollicking great adventure story. ( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
I really enjoyed this book its a great read for anyone who lived through the 80's and remembers the various films, music and of course computer games.

This is the story of your average man online defeating the evil corporation who want to destroy the online world as he knows it.

My favourite piece of dialogue "you're evil" "No I'm chaotic neutral" if you get that you will love this book ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
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