Review | Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Crown)

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Crown
Format: Hardback
Release Date: August 2011

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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?
Every now and then I hear about a book through various sources and think, 'you know what, that sounds rather good.' What inevitably happens then is that it slips to the back of my mind where it will stay until a little reminder comes up. This is exactly what happened with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, so I dug out the book from the to-read pile and kept it in plain site so I would know to pick it up next. I started reading it one evening and a couple of days later it was done and dusted - and would have been sooner if it wasn't for that pesky thing called work! Actually, reading is a word that cannot be effectively used to describe the experience I had with Ready Player One. Absorbed? Devoured? Whatever, it's fair to say that I enjoyed this book immensely!

Wade lives in the real world, but spends his time mostly in OASIS, learning at a virtual school and hanging out with his friends. Wade is also a gunter, an egg-hunter, the main objective of which is to find Halliday's clues and win the legendary quest. However, Wade is but one person among millions who are also searching for the clues, some like himself working alone, some in clans working together to share the prize, and one big company hell-bent on inheriting the OASIS and turning it in to nothing more than a money making business, abandoning all that it was built for.

And one day Wade finds the first piece of the puzzle, a piece that nobody else has found in the years since Halliday's death. And then the quest begins in earnest, others following him and tracking down the clues for themselves. When those that want the prize above all else turn nasty it has consequences in the real world, and the prize must be kept from their hands at any cost. And so the rush is on, who will get the keys, beat the quests and find what the much wanted prize really is...

Ready Player One hits just about all the right spots for me as a reader. The story is great, the characters interesting, the world in which it's set fascinating, and the prose makes you want to keep on reading. And reading. And reading. I had to force myself to put this book down when I had to, and for me that's exactly what I want in a novel. Wade, Aech, Art3mis - they fit perfectly into this story, are well fleshed out and seem to grow and evolve as the story progresses. It's fair to say that I found pretty much everything within Ready Player One to be damned near perfect.

One of the big things I liked about Ready Player One was the OASIS. Lets be frank, it's pretty much the pinnacle of entertainment. Imagine being able to escape to a virtual reality with thousands of worlds to explore, even more quests to take part in, and just an immense amount of stuff to do. Ready Player One touches on all the things I would be doing - questing, game playing, world building, taking part in classic movies, and many, many other things. Cline manages to make it interesting beyond these things. The technology works as you'd imagine, the virtual world is what you'd expect, and above all else their is no limit to his imagination.

With Halliday being an 80's kinda guy the novel is firmly rooted in that decade as far as the nostalgia, geekiness, and nerdisms go. And with his legacy up for grabs it makes perfect sense that so many people would embrace that era and study it to death. There are things here that go over my head for sure, but I'm geeked up enough to know a great deal of the references and enjoy them fully. The prose oozes charm and nostalgia, and once you start reading you'll find it nigh on impossible to put it down.

I loved Ready Player One. It took me back to my youth, brought back the memories of more innocent times. Many of the quotes you'll read about the book will say similar things, and for good reason: Ready Player One is the type of novel that doesn't come around very often. It may have a smaller target audience due to its central theme, but it's safe to say that Ready Player One is one of the most entertaining, enjoyable, funny and nostalgic books I have read in a very long time. I nerdgasmed throughout!

FantasyLass  – (2 September 2011 at 19:47)  

Ahh now this looks good :) and as my husband is a recovering WoW addict I feel very familiar with the overall theme :)

Ezza  – (2 September 2011 at 20:33)  

I devoured this in a day - I ordered it on my Kindle the morning it came out and I was done by 8pm that night. Hit all the right notes for me - now someone needs to get cracking on building us an OASIS. Some of the 80's nostalgia went a bit over my head since I was born in '81, but it was fantastic all the way. I'll be making sure my daughter reads it when she's somewhere in her tweens - it should inspire love of nerddom.

captain mission  – (1 March 2012 at 00:03)  

half way through, brilliant read, thanks for the recommendation

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