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Ready Player One (2011)
by Ernest Cline
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My favorite read in a very long time. Ready Player One is funny, gritty and the whole time I was reading it I felt like the author knew me personally. Lots of eighties memories smashed with a dystopian future that does not seem so far away at all. This is more than a coming of age novel...Rather than a series of events "happening" to a character, Wade Watts turns his life into a quest for freedom, knowledge and of course love. I wish I could read this book again for the first time. ( )
Nice virtual reality story spiced up with lots of pop culture references from the eighties. Fond memories on my side of that time helped a lot to make this a great read and highly recommended to fellow gamers, 80s veterans and those still waiting for cyberspace to finally emerge.
A nice journey through a world filled with arcane knowledge about the history of gaming and 80s pop culture. Nice job by the author to frame a work around what he knows best, although at times it did feel a bit too contrived (to fit around his particular subset of knowledge).
Excellent book, review to follow!
This book is awesome. Why did it take so long to get around to?! I know I'm not the only one is saying that I feel like this book was written for me. It's like Ernest Cline climbed into the collective geek brain and pulled out the best book ever. Or the more plausible explanation is that he is one of us. It's just.. the term "bookgasm" definitely applies here.
It is stuffed, STUFFED, with references. Mostly 80s references and as somebody who is a bit too young (I was born in 1988) to actually remember any of it I have a totally healthy obsession with the 1980s so I was happily understanding most of them. Video game geeks will also be in total heaven, again I'm too young to have played any of these games but I am definitely aware of them as a video game fan. Oh and the music, the music! Has anybody made a Ready Player One play list? Somebody definitely should. Reading this book is just like swimming around in a world of all your favourite things with a decent, suspenseful (if a little cheesy) plot.
So the actual story focuses on our protagonist Wade aka Parzival, a teenager who (like most of the population of Earth) escapes his terrible real life by living inside an online world called the OASIS. The inventor of the OASIS James Halliday (a kind of Steve Jobs character) died and revealed in his will that he left an easter egg trail inside the OASIS. Whoever gets to the end will win his whole fortune and control of the OASIS. Wade is an obsessive 'gunter' (egg hunter) with an encyclopaedic knowledge of James Halliday and his favourite era of the 1980s. After years of nobody finding a thing Wade finally solves the clue to the first of three keys and, well, it all kicks off.
Wade is a super geek, he knows everything (almost). He spends all of his spare time reading, watching and playing everything that Halliday read, watched or played. I wish I had that kind of dedication and memory to retain all that information! In the real world he is a slightly overweight orphan living in poverty with his only family being an unfriendly, opportunistic aunt. The world is a total mess, all the resources have basically ran out and most of the population now hide in the OASIS meaning everything has basically gone to crap for 99%. Wade has no future, and winning the competition is the only way he has out of his life. I could totally identify with Wade's feeling of hopelessness and knowing that all future generations are more screwed than the previous one.
He has one best friend in Aech another top gunter, their friendship is very sweet actually. Then there is his rival and crush Art3mis, another gunter with a popular blog. I really appreciated this inclusion of a decent female character as a convincing rival for Wade. She's super smart, strong and funny and her avatar isn't gross and overly sexual. The romance stuff is where is gets cheesy, the only real area where I had issues with the book, but it wasn't handled too badly. They are two people who have never met in real life and there are lots of insecurities to go along with that.
Both the real world and the online world of OASIS are very well drawn. I loved the idea of the stacks and it is a disturbing vision of the future that feels a bit too possible (like all the best science fiction). OASIS sound amazing although I’d be worried if/when it is invented for real. I’m spending these six weeks of my summer break hiding online and in video games as it is, I can’t imagine how addictive it would be it is really felt like another world where I could be anything I wanted. I liked that Cline still put limitations on it though with the economy of the OASIS, just like the really world economy, blocking off most opportunities for the poor (the poor being most of the world). There are a lot of really cool ideas in this book!
It is a very easy read that is well plotted with lots of puzzles to solved, good characters and fun action (I love the giant robots. Anything with giant robots.). What really spoke to me was the feeling of trapped hopelessness with the current state of the world for young people, and the need to escape that with virtual worlds (books, TV, games whatever). This books completely gets what that is like.
I heard that Spielberg is signed on as director for a movie. It would be awesome but I don’t know how they’d do it. Getting all the rights alone would be difficult then they absolutely have to get the virtual world right for the movie to work. Watch that space.
Ready Player One borrows liberally from the same Joseph Campbell plot requirements as all the beloved franchises it references, but in such a loving, deferential way that it becomes endearing. There’s a high learning curve to all of the little details Wade throws out about the world, and for anyone who doesn’t understand or love the same sect of pop culture Halliday enjoyed, Ready Player One is a tough read. But for readers in line with Cline’s obsessions, this is a guaranteed pleasure.
"Cline is an ingenious conjurer talented at translating high concept into compelling storytelling."
The breadth and cleverness of Mr. Cline’s imagination gets this daydream pretty far. But there comes a point when it’s clear that Wade lacks at least one dimension, and that gaming has overwhelmed everything else about this book.
"Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline’s first novel is old wine in new bottles. "
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Wikipedia in English (1)
"In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines -- puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win -- and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape"--Page 2 of cover.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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