Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
Summary: 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?
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Source: I purchased a paperback.
Ready Player One was awesome and one of the best books I’ve read this year. It combined my love of geek and nerd culture with my love of futuristic science fictions. It was an adventure, a lesson, a cautionary tale, and a story that resonated with anyone who likes to be alone and immerse themselves in anything that isn’t reality, like books, movies, or videogames. It speaks to those who have a place in nerd culture, regardless what their interests are specifically. It is for anyone who appreciates anything 80s; movies, music, or video games. It’s for those of us who never fit in the real world and who crave a place where we are comfortable. If you fit into any one of these categories, even just one, it’s a book you have to read.
The novel was set in the future, but a different future than we might picture. The majority of people live and work inside of the OASIS, a virtual reality world that encompasses everything. Kids go to school inside of the OASIS because it’s cheaper, easier, and the lessons can take you on field trips to anywhere you want to go. The creator the OASIS died and left a cryptic message that lead to a puzzle adventure. Find the egg: win everything. He was a major fan of all things 80’s and his clues were hidden somewhere inside of the OASIS and led to the egg. The book is from the point of view of Wade, a kid in high school who was obsessed with the hunt for the egg.
The adventure in Ready Player One was incredible. I loved the layout of the world, Wade’s character, and his quest. From beginning to end, his adventure took major twists, turns, and contained clues that I can’t believe he figured out. As a science fiction and futuristic adventure novel, it certainly did a wonderful job. But that was not all there was to the story. Wade, as a “gunter” (egg hunter), had to know so much information about Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, and all of the 80’s pop culture that he loved. And of course, the setting of the OASIS was a big video game in itself. Because of this, Ready Player One paid homage to nearly every aspect of geekdom and it did a very good job.
It sounds like you have to be into gaming or the 80’s quite a bit to appreciate the story, but that’s not really all that true, either. While it does bring up some nostalgia and appeals to fans of both or either, it does something else, too. The novel resonates with people who can relate to Halliday or Wade. People who love to escape into fiction, regardless of what that fiction format is. The way Wade is able to ignore his own terrible setting and situation and immerse himself in the puzzle and the material that comes with it speaks to all geeks on some level and I think that’s what makes Ready Player One so amazing. The plot was also one that speaks to anyone who enjoys rooting for the underdog. Wade Watts was up against big government soldiers, richer people, older hunters, and virtually everyone else. Finding the egg was important and he was just a poor guy who loved what Halliday stood for. And because of Wade’s total appreciate for Halliday, I’d say it’s a novel for anyone who has ever been part of a fandom, regardless of what that fandom is. You’d get it.
So let me be clear: you don’t have to be a gamer or 80’s fan to love the book. It may help, but it’s not necessary. You just have to appreciate geeks, fans, nerds, a good adventure, and an awesome story.
Ready Player One is a MUST READ if any level of the premise appeals to you.
(I’d say it’s a must for any reader, but I know there are a ton of people who just munch on contemporaries and beach reads in between their gossip magazines who won’t really GET it.)
I have zero complaints about the story and I think the only people who wouldn’t love it are those who wouldn’t understand it and cannot connect at all to anything remotely geek related or those sorts of geeks who complain about everything or have to find the flaws in awesome stuff just because they are nitpicky.
(You guys know the types of nerds I’m talking about that make you roll your eyes and think OMG, here we go because they’ll say, “But Monty Python’s Meaning of Life came out in the 70’s, so the author OBVIOUSLY didn’t commit to his premise of having all things from the 80’s.” or “I’m the biggest 80’s fan and he didn’t include [insert 80’s thing here] and so it obviously fails.” I guess those kinds of people will be anywhere, so if you’re NOT one of them, then read the book!)
Wil Wheaton totally narrates the audiobook, so there's another selling point. Honestly, how can this book be any more epic?!
Bottom Line, Ready Player One is awesome and I know it will eventually have a broken spine from the times I’ll reread it.
Labels: Review, Science Fiction