Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Author: Ernest Cline
Publisher: Random House, Inc., NY
Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Format/Source: Paperback/Borrowed from a friend
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? (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)
Oh, the Awesomeness…
I’ve wanted to read Ready Player One for quite some time, but I didn’t actually get around to it until my friend Courtney from Abducted by Books was listening to it on audiobook and basically shoved a paperback into my hands. She was telling all of us at our book club that we HAD to read it, and she was like, “Who wants it first?” So I volunteered, with the caveat that it might take me a couple of months to read it, since I have WAY too many books to read as it is. But then I finished my current read and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it so I had to read it next. And I’m so glad I did.
I was born at the very beginning of 1980 so I lived through almost all of the things that were mentioned in this book. The character of James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, was born only a few years before me, so therefore I played a lot of the games he played, I owned a lot of the gadgets he owned and loved, and I lived through most of the things he lived through. Well, that is, except in this world, our whole society has pretty much gone to crap by now.
But if you love video games (especially old school games) and things from the 1980’s, you’re going to LOVE this book. And not only are there video game and ’80s references, but there are lots of other great references from Firefly to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to Doctor Who to Harry Potter. And there were a few different twists and lots of puzzle solving and some great suspenseful scenes. Basically this is MY KIND OF BOOK.
And I love the blurb from USA Today that was on the cover of the copy I read: “Enchanting…Willy Wonka meets The Matrix.” If you don’t know anything about this book, that pairing sounds really strange and unlikely. But when you think about the basic plot of this book–Creator of a highly successful virtual reality world dies, and in his will, promises his company and his fortune to the first person to find the Easter egg he’s hidden within his virtual world–it makes total sense. And I love the fact that there is so much more of both movies in this book.
I usually give the majority of my bonus points for awesome references, but Ready Player One has SO MANY awesome references, that I’ve decided to leave those out. But don’t worry, Ernest Cline will be getting lots of bonus points anyway:
- Halliday, the virtual world creator, loved his childhood town so much that he recreated it hundreds of times within his virtual universe. He made it look just like it did in one year during the ’80s, with all the same cars and stores and clothing and everything. I would SO do this, except I’d probably make several different recreations for the different places I’ve lived. It’s always sad going back to, say, where I went to elementary school and seeing how different it is. So for this, Cline gets 50,000 points.
- The Flicksync game. It’s this game where you find yourself as the main character of a movie, and you have to do and say everything that character does in the way that they do it in the movie. Basically you’re living the movie! I want this game to happen sometime while I’m alive. Cline, get on creating that, and give yourself 1 million points as well.
- Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton are the President and Vice President of the OASIS User Council. Can we please see them go into real office? Please? 50,000 points.
- One of the areas in the OASIS is called the Whedonverse, and it houses all things Joss Whedon. I want to go there!!! 50,000 points.
- Ready Player One is all about an Easter egg hidden within a virtual world, and Cline placed his own Easter egg within this book! Seriously, how cool is that?? 1 gazillion points.