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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One (2011)

by Ernest Cline

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,774671545 (4.2)3 / 658
  1. 233
    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2seven, whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both about teens fighting back against the greater power using computers.
  2. 170
    Neuromancer by William Gibson (jbgryphon)
    jbgryphon: Gibson's Matrix and Stephenson's Metaverse are as much the basis for OASIS as any of the geek universes that are included in it.
  3. 170
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (jbgryphon)
    jbgryphon: RPO's OASIS owes it's existence as much to Neil Stephenson's Metaverse as to the miriad of geek universes that are included in it.
  4. 100
    Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Anonymous user)
  5. 70
    Halting State by Charles Stross (ahstrick)
  6. 93
    Scott Pilgrim vs. The World by Bryan Lee O'Malley (quenstalof)
    quenstalof: Both show classic video game inspiration
  7. 30
    City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams (infjsarah)
  8. 85
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (sturlington)
    sturlington: Ready Player One reminded me of a grown-up version of this classic.
  9. 52
    Kiln People (The Kiln Books) by David Brin (freddlerabbit)
  10. 31
    Daemon by Daniel Suarez (bikeracer4487)
  11. 20
    Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson (TomWaitsTables)
  12. 10
    You by Austin Grossman (Anonymous user)
  13. 21
    Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd by Holly Black (quenstalof)
  14. 10
    Press Start to Play by Daniel H. Wilson (erikrebooted)
    erikrebooted: Similar subject matter -- where video games are more than they seem.
  15. 21
    For the Win by Cory Doctorow (simon_carr)
  16. 43
    The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (GD2020)
  17. 10
    Armada by Ernest Cline (kale.dyer)
    kale.dyer: Both books focus on 1980s culture, similar narrative ark for isolated teen to hero.
  18. 10
    Night Film by Marisha Pessl (lobotomy42)
    lobotomy42: Characters have to solve a mystery left by a deceased (fictional) creative artist; similar reference name-dropping, obsession with details and re-creations
  19. 10
    Wyrm by Mark Fabi (slagolas, slagolas)
  20. 10
    Erebos by Ursula Poznanski (aliklein)

(see all 32 recommendations)


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English (651)  Spanish (4)  Finnish (3)  French (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All (664)
Showing 1-5 of 651 (next | show all)
Wow, if you grew up in the 80s, played any kind of video games, this book is for you. Cline somehow combines old 80s video games like Joust and Pacman throws in dozens of pop references like Flashdance and Monty Python mixes them all together and makes it work. Great fun, and guaranteed to make you nostalgic. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
The movie will be epic. ( )
  Kaytron | Feb 28, 2017 |
I first heard about this book shortly after it came out and I was curious but not enough to immediately pick it up. Over the years I had various friends and colleagues tell me how fun it was and that they thought it was right up my alley so I boosted it higher on my "must read" list. Now that I've finally read it, I'm glad I did. I truly did enjoy it even though it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Whether I had over-inflated expectations thanks to all the recommendations or if I was let down by flaws in the book, I have yet to determine. My general feel is that this is a good fun book with an intriguing plot and fun story development but it won't appeal to everybody.

Ready Player One is set in a mid-21st century dystopia where fossil fuels are largely gone, global warming has made a mess of things and society is functional but very divided. The author doesn't get overly political or provide big socio-cultural narratives but there is an enormous wealth and knowledge disparity that grants amazing power to some while stifling others. If you imagine exacerbating our current socio-economic problems you'll have the general idea.

The first many chapters involve a fair amount of exposition and information dumps to set up the world and the situation. Even though these chapters were a little slow I personally found them to be interesting world-building and I also really enjoyed the 1980s references (more on that later).

Our main character Wade lives a pitiful existence with his aunt in "the stacks." The stacks are an intriguing concept from the author...society has over-maximized the space in mobile home parks by creating vertical "stacks" of mobile homes one atop another. This allows hundreds and hundreds of families to live in a mobile home park that otherwise would only fit maybe 50-100.

Wade's aunt is a stereotypical figure in these sort of books and really only keeps Wade around so she can benefit from his food/ration vouchers provided and other subsidies provided to the poverty stricken. Naturally Wade doesn't receive any benefit from his aunt other than keeping himself out of foster homes and out from under the scrutiny of "the man." Wade has a sort of "street urchin" life of his own where he is able to gather food and other resources. He's also found his own little hideout where he can hide away and access the world-pervasive virtual reality program/game known as OASIS.

The driving plot for the book is the virtual reality world of OASIS and a contest created by its founder James Halliday. When Halliday died he created a "Willy Wonka" style contest where the winner gets full control of Halliday's fortune and the company behind OASIS. Very little is told about the treasure hunt other than that players must find three keys to open three gates and complete the challenges within the gates. The only hint they have is that the keys/gates are all related to Halliday's life and passion which is filled with tons and tons of obscure ~1980s "geeky" pop culture...things like early computers and video games, dungeons and dragons, movies, books, anime, etc. Halliday's will provided an obscure clue to the first gate and left the everyone to scramble for answers. Naturally the world frantically went crazy trying to solve the puzzle but for years nothing has happened.

Wade attends school in OASIS with his government/school provided gear and spends all his free time researching everything he can about Halliday. One day he has an epiphany for the location of the first key/gate and shortly thereafter he enters and completes the Copper Gate and receives the clue to find the next gate. His name becomes the first and only name on an in-OASIS scoreboard and the world craze for the hunt re-ignites. Because Wade is a minor using a public school account, his true identity is hidden behind privacy legislation so he fortunately isn't hounded by reporters and paparazzi. However, those with high tech means are able to track Wade down and suddenly the stakes are even higher. Not only is he racing to find the next gate but he is trying to stay safe and one step ahead of the other hunters out to take him down.

Once the book gets past the first few chapters of exposition and Wade finds the first gate everything really takes off and maintains a good pace through the end of the book. There are a few moments where things slow down so Wade can try to puzzle out some of the problems facing him but to a large extent the book moves into high action for the last two-thirds of the book.

As you might expect, the game is filled with a TON of pop-culture references from the 1980s (extending slightly into the late-70s and early-90s as well). As a child of the 80s I really ate up all of the references and had a ton of fun strolling down memory lane. I also discovered some new things that I want to learn more about. For those not as excited about 80s tech/geek culture, the references will likely be less interesting and large chunks of the book may feel a little obscure or slow.

The sci-fi elements of the book were fun but left me wanting a little more. I fully acknowledge that predicting the future is a difficult thing and in this book we're only ~25 years in the future and we're also in a society that has had a number of significant breakdowns but I still wanted a little more of a bump in technological advancements beyond the overarching shroud of OASIS. I'm not sure exactly "what" I wanted...maybe some increased AI in the form of robots/cyborgs or something like that. Granted, most of the advancements happened in and around the OASIS platform and its related hardware so I suppose that's fairly realistic inference.

As to character development, we get a somewhat fleshed out Wade pretty early on and he doesn't seem to change a lot throughout the book. We meet and interact with some of his friends over the course of the story and even though they're interesting they are a little flat and predictable. They largely serve as sounding boards or foils for Wade to work with or be compared against. There are a couple of character twists later in the book and there's also the seemingly requisite "love interest" to add an additional plot element (even though personally I didn't feel like the book needed that additional element or even benefited from it per se). The villain characters are true villains without any special depth to them. They behave villainous and if anything they are even more cruel than I might have expected.

On the whole I personally enjoyed this book a lot. I went in with very high expectations given all the buzz and recommendations I'd heard. I have also heard great things about the audiobook read by geeky pop-culture icon Will Wheaton (I don't know that I love the book enough to seek out the audio version). If you're not a fan/guru of 1980s pop/geek culture you probably won't really get into this book but if you enjoy tech-based sci-fi you'll likely still enjoy the adventure. Still, I can certainly see that this book won't appeal to everyone. If the main premise sounds like your sort of book, be prepared for a few slow chapters at the beginning that may or may not be interesting to you depending on your passion for the topic (aka - Halliday's obsession with 1980s culture) but once you get beyond that exposition and build up you're in for a fun filled enjoyable adventure.

4 out of 5 stars ( )
  theokester | Feb 27, 2017 |
This book has a strong premise. The writing is not difficult, the story is intriguing, if the beats are easy to see coming. It's gotten a lot of praise, and I'm baffled as to why. It's generally worth the time I took to read it, but it not spectacular by any means, and has a few stand out problems. The author has several cases of "aha I had this specialized tool all along" to get his protagonist out of trouble, which feels lazy. My problems are explained in more detail below, but are SPOILERS.
My biggest complaint, that keeps bothering me, is that one of his characters (most of this book takes place in VR, where people don't know each other in real life) presents as a white straight male. Then there's this reveal at the end that it was a black lesbian woman all along (going along in the VR world as white and male because racism). While I understand the idea there to an extent, and while this is set in a dystopian future it feels terrible. Like some editor said "hey you don't have enough minorities" and he was like "oh haha we'll make this dude a overweight african american lesbian but not reveal it till the last 40 pages so that I don't have to go back and rewrite anything" It feels bad, like a play to representation without actually having to have it.

The interesting female character breaks up with this guy (they weren't actually dating...mostly) when he says he loves her, because all he knows is her avatar . Good for you for having reasonable boundaries lady! When he hacks into somewhere and reads her personnel file that *evil agency* collected (note, he could have kept it closed and the plot would have kept proceeding as normal) she correctly dings him for invasion of privacy (something she wouldn't have done). He finds out from the file that her secret real life flaw is .... that she has a birthmark on her face...I felt all of this was acceptable as if we were building up an imperfect hero who had real issues (see: Adventure Time's handling of Flame Princess), and their storyline slowly turns upon him recognizing that and their becoming friends again (and then maybe being in love)... but then it turns out that she stops caring about the privacy invasion, and really she broke up with him because she thought he would hate her for having a birth mark... seriously. ( )
  sjfwagner | Feb 26, 2017 |
As a child of the 80's and a computer game geek I loved this book. I'm not a reader of sci-fi or fantasy at all but this is such a good story with lashings of nostalgia that I just couldn't put it down. In fact I was so excited when I got the 'neglected house' clue I had to disturb my husband at work in order to tell him. It's official I'm a NERD. ( )
  angelaoatham | Feb 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 651 (next | show all)
"Cline is an awe-inspiring vault of ‘80s trivia and miscellany, and from the novel’s opening pages to its intense, action-packed finale, he expertly weaves his knowledge into the story in a way that’s somehow both deliriously entertaining and also integral to the plot."
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."
added by bookfitz | editUSA Today, Don Oldenburg (Aug 21, 2011)
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.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Aug 14, 2011)
"Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline’s first novel is old wine in new bottles. "
added by bookfitz | editKirkus Reviews (May 1, 2011)

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cline, Ernestprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brand, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fowler, RalphDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Massey, JimCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rothfuss, PatrickIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spini, L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Susan and Libby
Because there is no map for where we are going
First words
Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.
Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.
It was the dawn of a new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame.
"No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful." [199]
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut — part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera.

It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS — a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly, the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

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"Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future--the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday's fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline."--Chris Schluep, Amazon Best Book of the Month.… (more)

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