Book Reviews

Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)

Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown Publishers on 05-04-2012
Genres: Fiction, General, Hard Science Fiction, Science Fiction
Length: 15 hours, 40 minutes
Source: Purchased

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.

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

Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★

Strange but true: for some reason I was convinced Ready Player One was an old book, a sci-fi classic like Ender’s Game or Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Reality: Ready Player One was published in 2011.  Don’t ask me why I was convinced it was published in the 80s (especially since that doesn’t even really make sense given the 80s references in the book).

Also true: I was convinced I would dislike Ready Player One.  The concept interested me, but as a 90s child with no 80s knowledge, I expected it to be like listening to a relative go on about people they loved as a kid but that you’ve never heard of.

So by now, you’re almost certainly wondering why I bothered picking up Ready Player One, but I was looking for audiobooks for my commute and I heard so many great things about Wil Wheaton’s narration I decided it was worth a go!

The story

19 year old Wade Watts is our primary character.  Like pretty much everyone else, Wade spends almost all his time in the OASIS (The Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). The OASIS is a virtual world, through which people go to school, hang out with friends, meet new people and even work.   When James Halliday, the creator of The OASIS dies, he reveals that he has hidden an easter egg within The OASIS.  The person who finds this easter egg will inherit a ridiculous amount of money and Halliday’s share in the company that created The OASIS.

Like everyone else, Wade dreams of finding the Egg, but so far, the contest has been going on for years, and no one has even managed to find the first of the three keys, yet alone the Egg itself.  But Wade’s life outside The OASIS is miserable – he lives in a trailer park with family he doesn’t like, stacked high up in a pile of trailers constantly at risk of toppling, in a neighbourhood where mugging is a daily occurence.  So he goes to school in The OASIS, and he spends the rest of his time learning about the 80s, because everyone knows how obsessed Halliday was with the 80s, and the journal that Halliday has left makes no sense without an intense knowledge of 80s pop culture.  So he reads, and he watches, and he listens to music, and he racks his brain for what the first clue means and where the first key could be hidden.

When the first key is finally found though, things get very intense, very fast. From the clans that team up to try and find the keys to the professionals who are paid to try and find the keys so that the rival company can take over The OASIS, Wade’s life – and many others – will be permanently changed by the experience of hunting for the egg.


final thoughtsAll in all, despite my skepticism before starting, I really enjoyed Ready Player One.  I really loved the plot, the twists and turns and the constant guessing.  I definitely didn’t get all the references, but because they tie in so clearly to the plot, I didn’t really mind, and I loved that jolt when something unexpected pops up that you are familiar with.  My biggest limitation with Ready Player One was the characters – I liked them, but I didn’t adore them, which, as someone who is hugely character driven, I found a little disappointing.

Wil Wheaton’s narration is truly fantastic, and I can honestly say this was probably the perfect introduction to audiobooks for me.  I’ve listened to a few more audiobooks but none of them have been addictive in the way Ready Player One was!

Buy it? This is one that’s definitely worth buying for me.
In a nutshell: This book is like all those quotes that say ‘being a geek is cool’, rolled up into one and then filled with geeky references.  It’s fun, it’s gripping and it’ll make you feel like a rockstar whenever you get a reference.

Other Reviews of Ready Player One: Snuggly Oranges | Let’s Get Galactic | Read Breathe Relax

4 thoughts on “Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)

  1. All my friends were recommending this one, but I wasn’t quite convinced. Still, when I found it in the library I decided to give it a go (seeing as it was free and all) and WOW, yes, I got it! So much fun, and although I didn’t understand all the references, there were enough references to all the nerdy stuff I love to make my brain do a little party all the way through. I cannot imagine a more appropriate audiobook narrator than Wil Wheaton.
    Katie recently posted…Sunday Summary: NaNoWriMo and fancy gadgets ancient and modernMy Profile

    1. Yes yes yes! I absolutely agree – I didn’t get all the references by a long shot, but when I did get them I felt awesome. I read a review (on goodreads I think) which said this book is like validation for nerdiness and it’s so true. It’s like geeking out with a similarly nerdy friend, and it’s definitely fun!

  2. I hadn’t even heard about this book at all until like early last year. Then when I did look it up, I thought it was a much older book too! That being said, so far I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one and your review just confirms that fact for me! I NEED to get my hands on a copy soon, it sounds like a story I could really get into! I’m especially digging the fact that the audio version is narrated by Wil Wheaton – definitely one to add to my audio tbr 😀 Thanks for the awesome review Faith and I’m glad you enjoyed this one ^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Harry Potter MotW #67My Profile

    1. Yeah the Wil Wheaton narration is great! I’ve been trying desperately to get into audiobooks for the drive to uni and this was a definite success. (So much so that the next audiobook I got was also a Wil Wheaton narrated one….)

      Hope you enjoy it when you manage to pick it up! I was really skeptical but I ended up loving it. I’ve already decided I’m going to buy my dad a copy for Christmas because I know he’ll love it too.

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