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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Ernest Cline

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5,622594761 (4.21)3 / 591
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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In a dystopian future, rampant poverty and crime can only be escaped through digital escapism. An unbelievable contest involving 1980s pop culture will give control of the virtual world to the winner. Good for high school. Recommend to students who enjoy speculative fiction and/or video games. Compare/contrast with postapocalyptic/dystopian tales, such as Divergent, Ship Breaker, or short stories from After. Or compare with stories about high-stakes contests, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. ( )
  KristineCA | Apr 26, 2016 |
A fun novel about 80s trivia set in a virtual reality gaming world pitting the lowly gamer with the corrupt corporation. The main thing about enjoying this book is not too think too much. Just go in expecting a light, fun read. There are a lot of great, exciting moments and gratifying references that keep it really entertaining. The writing is okay, as Ernest Cline decides to explain us the world, instead of showing it too us. The beginning really feels like a video game review or a game manual. It does get better though. The romance is cute in a bit childish way. The protagonist's actions sometimes don't make any sense, but then again don't think too much. Overall I enjoyed it.

The audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton who does a great job of pacing and enunciating that it is easy to follow the narrative. All of the character's voices are spoken roughly the same though. The book is mainly a first person view with a lot of reflection, so there isn't really that much dialogue to make it difficult to follow. ( )
  renbedell | Apr 25, 2016 |

Originally posted here

The future dystopian world painted in Ready Player One was so interesting, Earth seems to be dying and it is such a shame that the reader doesn't really learn much more about it. The virtual world of OASIS is humanity's escape from the depressing reality of life in 2044 and that is a future I can honestly envision happening. Hell, sign me up! The world in 2016 isn't the greatest place and I would have loved to have the awesome OASIS education that Wade experienced. Learning about space by being transported to a virtual solar system that looks exactly like the real deal, heck yes! Fabulous virtual world building aside, there are quite a few downsides to this book.

Wade is an annoying protagonist, I just have to say it. He is just brilliant at everything he sets out to do, some of the stuff he does is executed flawlessly because he is a very special snowflake. Very special snowflakes aren't my favourite kind of character to say the least. The romance in this book was just so toe-curling and cringe worthy. Mega ick. I could never forget to include the most irritating thing about the whole book for me, and that was the 1980s. I do not give a flying fudge about the eighties, I did recognise some references but most of the time I was trying to stifle massive yawns. I'm sorry but I honestly do not believe for a second that anything from the eighties was better then everything else that has ever or will exist. Ready Player One is a giant love letter to the eighties and if you enjoy that kind of thing it's the perfect book.

Despite everything that I hated about this book, I still liked it a whole lot. I loved the premise of the ultimate egg hunt and the perfect portrayal of the evil corporation. I just wish there was more detail about the neglected world outside of OASIS and how it got that way. I'm sure the movie will be epic. ( )
  4everfanatical | Apr 22, 2016 |
I can remember when my father first took me into the Data General lab where he worked and sat me down to play Adventure while he worked. This story brought out all those early geek memories for me. If you grew up with the dawn of the home computing age and loved stories like The Matrix, this bookbis one you MUST read. ( )
  J.Riley.Castine | Apr 21, 2016 |
I'm not a gamer, but I really liked this book. A friend told me Wil Wheaton reads the audio version. Good choice. ( )
  bookczuk | Apr 12, 2016 |
A pastiche of 80s culture playing out on a number of levels. Foremost is the homage to 80s music, TV/movies, and videogames; this is a central aspect of the plot and characters. Cline also evokes Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy in basic plot and premise, slightly revised for updated technology. Finally, Cline emulates the armchair treasure hunt of Kit William's Masquerade, with the twist that the treasure is hidden in the OASIS, rather than the real world.

Biggest contrast to its referents: against the edgy body mod & street syndicates of Gibson's Sprawl, and the earnest hyperreality of the Wachowski Siblings Matrix, Cline channels exuberance. I had good fun reading it.

I speculate OASIS will be the key cyberpunk reference for my children's generation, especially once the Spielberg movie debuts, standing in for them what the Sprawl is for me. What do they make of all the 80s references, given their second-hand and often ironic presentation? ( )
  elenchus | Apr 8, 2016 |
It is a fun nostalgia read of the 80s, especially if you enjoyed playing video games back then. It seems to fall short in the end (and I haven't figured out why it felt that way to me) but it is still well worth picking up. ( )
  DougGoodman | Apr 7, 2016 |
It's a YA novel, so the dialogue and plot is pretty predictable, but it's so chocked full of 80's gaming references that I don't mind. I'd describe it as one part Ender's Game, one part The Matrix. ( )
  BooksForYears | Apr 1, 2016 |
4.5 Stars!!!

This was so much fun to read!! It was light-hearted, uplifting and, for someone who was a teenager during the 80s, it was an entertaining blast from the past. The story flowed steadily and held my interest throughout, which I don't experience often. The characters were likeable and, for the most part, well developed. The writing was simple and straightforward, letting the story do the work. I was hesitant to read this because the synopsis never really grabbed me, but the popularity of the book was to great to ignore, so I gave it a go, and I'm glad I did! ( )
  BlackAsh13 | Mar 26, 2016 |
It's the year 2044 and humanity has taken a downslide. Almost everyone lives a large portion of their life through the OASIS -- a universal virtual reality universe. One of the co-creators of the OASIS, James Halliday, has died, but prior to his death, he videotapes the rules to an ultimate hide-and-seek type of video game, where the winner must find 3 keys to 3 gates, leading them to the ultimate Easter egg and inheritor of Halliday's millions. The story centers around 18-year-old Wade (screen name "Parzival") and his quest to find the hallowed Easter egg.

Anyone with an inner geek who grew up in the 80's should love this book. The writing is just okay -- it's written in a style seemingly geared more for teens, yet the teens of today could never appreciate all of the 80's references. There is a treasure trove of references to 80's video games, but also 80's movies, music, and general culture as well. The beginning of the book is a little slow, as it requires some background information to understand the status of life in 2044, but once the reader gets into "the Hunt", it's hard to stop reading. Highly recommended, primarily for the FUN factor. ( )
  indygo88 | Mar 25, 2016 |
Without a doubt the best novel I have read this year. Just a blast with cool people, cool pop culture references (most of which I got) and a great adventure story. I can't recommend it enough. Even my wife, who doesn't like video games, is enjoying it. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
Just awesome. An instant favorite. I wonder if it brings the same enjoyment for readers not as fond of the 80s, but maybe this book was written for me. 5 stars ( )
  supermanboidy | Mar 20, 2016 |
Ready Player One was a great book. It started with a boys life who was really boring and it took place in 2024. After the creater of the OASIS ( a virtual reality gaming tool ) was dead he released a Easter egg to the game. Once you found all 3 keys in hidden places around the OASIS; you where rewarded with amounts of OASIS money anyone could ever imagine. You also could control the game and basically have anything you wanted to. Wade which went by the name Perzival in the OASIS. Figured out that the first key, the bronze. Was in the planet Ludius. Which was a planet for school and learning. Once he figured out the riddle that was the first thing he did was go to the cave. Wade had a map of the game created by Hailday, the creater of the game. So wade new where every monster and trap was in the cave. He then challenged a giant lich to a game. He lost 2 and then one with a total of 3 to 2. He was rewarded with the bronze key. On his way out he met a person name Art3mis in the OASIS. Which became competitors. The secound key was hidden inside of a gate. The third was found in the nearest part of the hill. The gate was opened by 3 keys being entered into the gate. Then they had to battle Haliday at another game. He was rewarded with what was promised.

I thought this was a good book. The reason I gave it 4 stars is because some parts did get a little boring. I would definitely read the next book. I thought the story went well with how to ending was. The ending was one of thoughs endings that want you to read the next book. The book was mainly a sort of Trivia with a mix of Action. 4 Stars; and I recommend the book. ( )
  IsaacM.B1 | Mar 18, 2016 |
I'm not a fan of the 80's, and am the furthest thing from a gamer. Despite the book revolving around everything pop culture from the 1980's and the evolution of gaming, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book. In a future regressed dystopia, the majority of the human race has retracted from the physical world to exist primarily in a virtual, online world of OASIS. The inventor of OASIS has died and willed the entirety of his fortune and control of the game/world to any gamer who is capable of solving an elaborate invention of hide and seek, skill and knowledge. What I love about this book is that the majority of the book is spent in all the splendor and possibility of the virtual world and the main lesson ends up saying the best part of life is what is real. Read it for the dystopian adventure. Love it for the historical fiction and future predictor it is. ( )
  Sovranty | Mar 16, 2016 |
I was very impressed with this book! The story was involving, the characters were interesting, and the endless 1980s references was incredible. The amount of work and research that Ernest Cline placed in telling this story is very clear that he had a passion to share this with us. ( )
  ShayLRoss | Mar 16, 2016 |
Really enjoyed this - unique and engaging. ( )
  mnorfolk49 | Mar 8, 2016 |
A few generations from now, fossil fuels have run out for good and most of humanity lives in grim squalor, with few jobs and little hope of change. Most people have turned to living in OASIS, an immersive & sprawling cyberuniverse. The one hope Wade Watts, an orphaned nerd living in a stacked trailer park, has of getting out of poverty is to win the easter egg hidden somewhere inside OASIS. But he's not the only one looking for the egg--so too are millions of other desperate people, as well as the sinister corporation IOI.

1980's American nerd culture is key to solving the easter egg's riddles and quests, and 80s references fly hard and fast. Cline is not particularly adept at explanations: they all seem dumped into the text and are usually absurdly detailed. Does anyone reading sf YA really need the concept of Dungeons & Dragons explained for three pages? I don't think so--most will already know, and besides, it's pretty damn simple.

Problems are solved really easily and quickly: Wade is so poor he can't even afford to travel in OASIS, which provides tension in the first few chapters, but then he gets an endorsement deal and can pay for even the priciest luxuries without worry. Or, later, Wade realizes spending all his time in OASIS has made him obese in the real world, and so he quickly gives himself a 6-pack by making his computer bully him. Transforming his entire body and lifestyle takes up about a paragraph, and he seemingly has no real feelings about it at all. Or, even later, Wade has been inside for so long that he has an agoraphobic attack from leaving his apartment. A few weeks later, he wins the game and casually declares he's going to spend very little time in OASIS ever after. How did that decision happen?

Cline drops the ball on a number of larger themes and plots, too. Periodically Wade will notice how the world is falling apart while everyone immerses themselves in OASIS. It's a vicious cycle: the world sucks, so people escape into virtual reality, but since they're not putting any effort in the world just gets suckier, so they spend more time in OASIS...Even the founders of OASIS make numerous comments about it. Yet in the end, nothing changes, nor does it seem that Wade will make any real effort to change the status quo. Another subplot that comes up is that people's OASIS personas do not necessarily match their "real world" characteristics, and the tension this causes. Art3mis makes a huge deal about being hideous and unlovable in the real world, and the narrative goes to impressive lengths to keep Wade from meeting her in the flesh until the very end. He swears that he loves her for her mind&personality, and that he doesn't care what she looks like. And then, it turns out she's a super pretty girl around his age, albeit with a birthmark on her face. Phew! Guess Wade doesn't have to decide whether he actually doesn't care about her physical characteristics, since she's exactly what he'd hoped for. What a cop-out!

Overall, it's an ok quest novel, but it has far too many infodumps and a main character I never cared about or believed in. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
well.....I loved the premise of this book, loved the 80s references, but...it just never quite delivered on its promise. It felt like it could have been so much more, but never reached its promise. sigh. I wanted to love it, but can't quite do it. ( )
  AmyCahillane | Feb 24, 2016 |
The year is 2044. The world has hit an energy crisis and mankind is losing. Reality is a terrible place with most of the population in abject poverty. To get away from it all nearly everyone spends as much time as they can logged in to the OASIS, an online virtual universe containing thousands of realities. Somewhere within the many worlds are clues to a scavenger hunt for an egg left behind by James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, when he died. The prize: the entire Halliday fortune and ownership of the OASIS. Wade Watts is your typical teenager. He attends school in the OASIS and in his spare time researches Halliday's life and hobbies. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue suddenly the game turns deadly serious with other players ready to kill for a chance at the prize.

This book relies heavily on nostalgia. If you love the '80s, play video games or enjoy pop culture then this book is for you. It's all these references that make the story work. Unlike other books where references to old pop culture can make the story feel dated (I'm looking at you American Psycho), Cline has written them to where they help the story feel more authentic. The described scenes actually feel like playing a video game or movie from the past. They are also used in such a way that they are integral to the plot and progress the story along nicely. There is a mix of just about everything: movies, music, tv, books, video games, pen and paper games and all things '80s. And it all works beautifully.

I listened to the audio book of this while on a road trip. I enjoyed Wil Wheaton's voice acting immensely. I think he was a great choice.

Overall the story is so much fun. It's fast paced, energetic and a nice dose of humor. I can see listening to this one again on another long trip. ( )
1 vote Narilka | Feb 20, 2016 |
This book was such a wonderful surprise. I never would have guessed that I'd love a book with a plot revolving about video gaming. I've basically never played video games, but this never got boring, partly because of all the references to the '80s. Besides, it's not your normal video game. It's a contest for a billion dollars within a massive virtual universe, played in a fight for survival against a monster corporation in 2044.

William Wheaton's narration was perfectly apt. ( )
  Connie-D | Feb 20, 2016 |
I’m very grateful to my favorite Goodreads group because their informal buddy read got me to finally get this book off my to read shelf and read it. I can’t believe that I waited as long as I did! Brilliant book, and great fun!

I consider this to be a young adult book, though I know some consider it to be adult fiction. Interestingly, my library has some of its copies shelved as ya and some of its copies shelved as adult fiction. In my mind the nature of the relationships and the obligatory ya ending scene made it feel like ya. However, I think that adults who were ages 7-22 during the 1980s will have particular interest in this story, along with those of us adults who like ya, so it’s a book for 11 or 12 and all the way up, in my opinion. I was already well into adulthood in the 1980s and never was a video game person, but that didn’t keep me from thoroughly enjoying the story and getting many of the 80s references. I do love the movie War Games and really enjoyed its appearance in the story.

Hooked from the start! The author made this book as addictive for his readers as OASIS is for his characters.

I think that the world building was wonderfully done, and I appreciate how a lot of pitfalls are avoided by placing so much of the action in what was the actual past.

I cared deeply for the main characters, particularly the main character. Everything felt so real that during the action I was worried for the characters, not just their avatars.

The story is highly entertaining but it wasn’t good for my blood pressure; there is a lot of suspense.

Throughout, I kept making guesses, and although I was almost always wrong, it was fun to “play along” with the story. I really enjoyed some of the twists, particularly one big one I never saw coming.

½ star off for a few things that didn’t ring entirely true for me: [ I kept wondering why Wade finding himself so wealthy and powerful and able to engage in a tremendous amount of travel and buy vastly superior equipment and many things, when he’d had a lifetime of being dirt poor and was very restricted with what he owned and what he could do and where he could go, wasn’t even more amazed and happy with his new circumstances. Also, in a world where online life was so very advanced, I’d have thought they could have found people easier by using their online activities – they did somewhat address this latter point, but even in today’s society, we can do better, I think. I also thought that the ending was slightly too pat and more rushed than I’d have liked. I wanted more, though I’m not sure exactly what. There is room for a sequel, but unless any sequel is as good or almost as good as this book. I’m likely to skip it – this book was very satisfying on its own and I’ll treasure my memory of my reading experience. (hide spoiler)]

Highly recommended to those who like character driven speculative fiction, people who were young in the 80s and all ya and adult readers who enjoy speculative fiction, and anyone who appreciates unique coming of age stories. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Feb 19, 2016 |
Wade Watts (aka Parzival) lives in a dystopian future. He and his neighbors live in "the stacks" made of old mobile homes, RVs, storage containers,etc. Wade along with most people, spends every moment he can surfing the world of the OASIS, a virtual video game that will take you away from what the world is today. You can be a whole new person and take vacations anywhere you want (if you have the credits). Most of the kids even go to high school in the OASIS.

When James Halliday dies it's all over the news. As one of the OASIS creators, he has left behind a challenge to all players, which leads them into a battle for the ultimate prize. The player who unravels the mysteries of the game, achieves the highest score, and gets to the egg will wield all of the power in the OASIS. Being that James Halliday was obsessed with everything 1980s, each player must steep themselves in as much knowledge of the times as they can. This includes the music, tv shows, video games, movies, and other pop culture phenomena of the time.

Any gamer out there would surely give this book 5 stars. I am not a gamer, but I am definitely an '80s girl and got quite a kick out of most of it. As a teenager, I did play some of the early arcade games referred to in the book but was mostly unfamiliar with a lot of them. All in all, this book is very different and quite a fun read for a teenager or an adult. ( )
  sherribelcher | Feb 17, 2016 |
I don't often do reviews, but I have to at least say something about this book... Gah, love love. Not only was it well written and engaging, but the pop culture trivia and the narration by Will Wheaton, double gah. I cannot wait to read the second book and while I'm waiting for it at the library, I'm going to go play Boss Monster to satiate myself.

(note: Remind me never to write reviews on days I forgot to drink black tea or coffee. My brain on half steam is neither impressive, nor sensical). ( )
  lyssacle | Feb 12, 2016 |
Do you ever read a book and think "yes. This is an obvious self Insert male fantasy." Because that's what I did in this book. It's a well written teen novel but at some points I had to literally put the book down because it became too "I'm a special boy who doesn't get any attention because I don't follow the standard societal norm and I should be praised for it and I need a girlfriend." But I made it through and if you want a book that makes you think of dot hack, this one is for you. ( )
  PaperTori | Feb 12, 2016 |
This deserves far more than 5*s!!!! Cline is a damned genius!!! His knowledge base is huge and it really brings OASIS alive. I wish he were James Halliday and had really invented this. ROLL ON ARMADA!! ( )
  Rogue-Phoenix | Feb 12, 2016 |
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