Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

September 20, 2011 Crown Publishers, Random House, Review 10

  • Format: Audiobook
  • Listening Length: 15 hour(s) and 46 min.
  • Publisher: Random House Audio (August 16, 2011)
  • Source: Personal Copy

In the not to distant future, the world is a pretty horrible place.  Many of the planet’s natural resources have been depleted, no replacement in sight. In order to escape from the bleak world in which they live, people retreat to the Oasis, a virtual world in which you can assume any identity, live any life. If you have enough credits, that is.

Wade Watts is one of these individuals. In high-school, he spends most of his days in the Oasis.  He’s enrolled in an Oasis virtual school, hangs out with his one virtual friend, H, at every waking moment.  Wade’s avatar’s name is Parzival, a take off of Percival the Knight. Like many of his counterparts, known as gunters (short for egg hunters), Wade is desperate to find the egg hidden within the Oasis, the key left behind by Oasis-creator James Halliday, when he did. The individual who finds the egg inherits all of Halliday’s money, as well as the Oasis itself.

Obviously, this isn’t an easy task. Halliday hides clues at the end of puzzles, only true gunters able to get even close. The key to solving the puzzle lies within Halliday’s life itself.  As a youth, he too was unable to have a healthy relationship with the real world. He retreated to video games and popular 80s television shows and movies rather than attempting to socialize with other humans.  To succeed in the hunt for the egg one must immerse themselves in 80’s pop culture.

It’s been years since any progress has been made in the hunt.  Then one day, Wade stumbles across the first puzzle and the hunt is reinvigorated.  Throughout his trek Wade forms friendships with other gunters on the same mission, including Artemis. He’s had a crush on her for some time, obsessively reading her blog posts and really anything she posts online.

The hunt becomes more than just a game when Wade is forced to go head-to-head with IOI, a corporation out to take control of the Oasis for its own monetary gain. Wade is forced to take unimaginable risks, including threatening the demise of his avatar and his own life itself.  In order to safe himself, and ultimately the world itself, Wade must immerse himself into the world of the Oasis, ignoring all the potential risks and consequences.

Here is the hard part: how can I accurately portray how much I loved this book without sounding like a complete and total geek? Ok, given the whole feel of this book I don’t think this is really an issue. Geek power is definitely a feeling I get from this book.  That said, don’t let the subject matter fool you into believing you must be a gamer or obsessed with 80s pop culture to appreciate this book. Readers with minimal knowledge of video games, television shows and movies from this era will be able to appreciate the awesomeoness that is Ready, Player One.

I was literally blasted back to my childhood with all the references to television shows (Family Ties!) , video games (Pac-Man!) and movies (Monty Python) that I adored as a child. This is a book that I will keep forever, read multiple times and on a frequent basis. It has clearly earned a spot on my favorite books of the year list; dare I say it tops it?  I know this is probably redundant but I feel the need to state it: Highly Highly Recommended!

A note on the audio production:

Could they have picked a better narrator for this book than Wil Wheaton? I think not! I find it humorous that his name is actually referenced in the book.  Wil’s character in Star Trek is a key part of our pop culture and I therefore found it quite fitting that he be cast as narrator. He does a tremendous job; his voice, inflections, pacing, etc. are all spot on.  Dare I say this is a book that should be listened to rather than read due purely to the narrator? I leave it up to you to decide, but I guarantee you will love it!


10 Responses to “Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline”

  1. Cassandra @ Indie Reader Houston
    Twitter: CassandraNeace

    This book was such a pleasant surprise! I was interested after finding out that Wil Wheaton did the audio, but I was sold once I met the author at his signing here in Houston. This book has to be my favorite of the summer (I count Night Circus for the fall), and to think I almost didn’t read it.

  2. Michelle

    I’ve seen this one all over the blogosphere but yours is the first review that really makes me want to read it. I think I’m gonna have to add it to my list of must gets!