Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Book of the Month
The year is 2045 and life in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, resembles scenes from every Hollywood sci-fi, dystopian flick you’ve ever seen. Chrome and glass skyscrapers soar into the heavens towering over buildings as grey and miserable as the dystopian, Bladerunner-esque weather. Society is high tech with glowing neon everywhere. Orphaned 18-year-old Wade Watts lives in the "stacks", dwellings, literally, formed from stacks of old cars, trailers, RVs, etc. Like most of humanity he escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia. Like millions of others, Wade dreams of discovering a virtual Easter Egg that lies concealed within one of thousands of virtual worlds by the OASIS's creator, the late James Halliday. The wacky genius has left clues to the Egg’s location in puzzles scattered around his virtual worlds which, when solved in order, lead to the location of the prize – whoever discovers the Egg will inherit his entire estate, including management and control of the OASIS itself; a prize worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
In order to claim the Egg Wade has to solve the series of puzzles hidden in various classic arcade games and media from the 1980s, as Halliday was mad about the era. Though Wade is an expert at classic arcade games, and a human database of 80s pop culture knowledge, he doesn’t know everything. Aiding him in his quest for the Egg are his "gunter" (a portmanteau of "egg hunter") mates: Art3mis, his best friend Aech, and the brothers Daito and Shoto. Our nerdy heroes, however, soon gain the attention of Nolan Sorrento, the head of the "Oology Division" at Innovative Online Industries. IOI is a multinational corporation bent on taking control of the OASIS for purely commercial reasons - charging for its use and bombarding users with advertisements. Currently schooling in the OASIS is free. When Wade refuses to assist them in finding the first key, Sorrento and his associates attempt to murder Wade; they fail and the race is now on to find the Egg with Wade and his buddies representing the forces of good and Sorento, the face of the evil IOI corp, the villain of the story.
So what’s to like about the book?
Everything! Ready Player One is not just homage to all things 80s pop culture: the movies, the music and, of course, classic arcade and roleplaying games, it’s an addictive read so potent it can only be described as literary cocaine. The story grips hold of the reader and drags them through a dizzying adventure and when it finally ends, you feel light headed and disorientated. It’s unputdownable!
Ready Player One is an utterly engrossing story, peering nostalgically into a popular past while at the same time set in a disturbing, dystopian, future. But, reader, be warned! If you read this book, you won’t love it - you’ll worship it! You’ll genuflect at its feet and sing hymns in adulation to it. You’ll die for it and wage jihad in its name, it’s that good!
Abbas Daya, 9.5/10
It’s 2044 and in the face of a global energy crisis, famine, poverty and climate change people have turned to virtual reality to escape. OASIS is a virtual utopia spread across ten thousand planets where you can be whatever you want to be and for Wade Watts, living in the laundry room of his aunt’s trailer, OASIS is his only escape.
Like the rest of humanity, Watts is obsessed with solving the biggest game Easter egg that has ever been – OASIS founder James Halliday’s entire multi-billion fortune and control of the game. Halliday was obsessed with ‘80s pop culture and the keys to the kingdom are hidden in such a way that only those who can pick up on the most oblique ‘80s reference will be have a chance of competing in the ultimate quest.
For years millions of people have scoured the thousands of planets on OASIS for the three keys until one day Watts finds the copper key and his world explodes. Instead of being just another low level, inconsequential character he is now the most famous person in the world and with a billion-dollar fortune at stake, there are ramifications both in OASIS and the real world.
Ready Player One is a not too distant future which melds Second Life and RPGs into a world where you can build up a character by undertaking quests and march around wearing armour and killing other characters, but which also functions as a virtual classroom for thousands of children worldwide. However, despite being set in a futuristic world, this is a book very much built on ‘80s pop culture. I personally loved it and found it a highly enjoyable read. Watts was a well-developed character that carried the story well and the world of OASIS came alive around me. You’ll need a certain appreciation of both the ‘80s and gaming to get the most out of this I would say; some of the references are so obscure that it bogs down the flow a little and maybe more of the 2044 world could have been brought in, but it was funny and unusual and heart-warming. A really good, fun read.
Cat Fitzpatrick, 8.5/10
I had never heard of Ernest Cline before this book arrived at my door and now I am glad that I have. Having been there at the birth of the home computer revolution, owned a number of those pieces of plastic history that I remember with more fondness than any of my old girlfriends this book can only be described as Geek Porn. Why? Put simply it tickles every bit, pops every stack and loads my drive. It bytes!
Ready Player One is written with such a depth of love for its subject that it reads like a digital historical novel. Yeh verily it is sooth. I could happily sit and read this all over again - right away. There is nothing in this book that I would change. The characters are believable teenagers with enough street cred to make them instantly viable in the real world. There is action on every page without it ever being overdone. Even the bad guy fits in his world of corporate greed as much as any that you could name in our world. Ernest Cline has crafted a story that I sincerely hope falls into cult lore right up there with the Rocky Horror Show.
You don’t have to be a geek to enjoy this book but if you are you even a tiny bit geeky (or a lover of all things 80’s) you’ll get so much more enjoyment from it. Others have tried and failed miserably to write stories like this one. Tron was a masterpiece of just this sort of idea its sequel however falls into that category of: oh dear. Like the last Indiana Jones movie, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I pretend that it never happened.
Ready Player One has leapt into my top twenty books along with the likes of Lord of the Rings, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Invisible Man, The One Tree, and others of that ilk. Not because of its eloquence of words, its flowing language, or the rich vibrant, living world in which it dwells but because it just deserves to be there. Nuff said.
Mathew Bridle, 9.7/10
Have you read Ready Player One?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Ready Player One reader reviews
John from US
Very good book! Started out kind of slow but as the book went on it kept getting better and better. By the time I was 100 pages away from the end, I read it all in one sitting. 100% would recommend!
Gary from Ohio, USA
I'm currently geeking out pretty hard about this book. It is just awesome in its use of 80's nostalgia (video games, films, music) and geek culture as the basis for the virtual reality "game" being played by the characters in the book. Just when I didn't think anything could surpass the geekiness of this book I found out the audio book version is read by Wil Wheaton and the author is doing his book tour in an 82 DeLorean with personalized Ghostbusters plates.
9.8/10 from 3 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
They made me kill thousands, but I only have one target now.The Radch are conquerors to be feared - resist and they'll turn you into a 'corpse soldier' -...
For Tom Harvey, it was just another dull, routine Friday after school. That is, until a mobile phone hurtled through the air and hit him squarely on the head, embedding fra...
George RR Martin
In the six decades since the alien plague known as the “Wild Card virus” spread a wave of mutations across the globe, humanity has begun to come to terms with i...
The Martian War
Kevin J Anderson
What if the Martian invasion was not entirely the product of H. G. Wells's vivid imagination? What if Wells witnessed something that spurred him to write The War of the...
Zenn Scarlett is a bright and occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. She specializes in the treatment...
When the world was flat (And we were in love)
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if...
Victor and Eli, due to a research project gone wrong, become ExtraOrdinaries (referred to as EO's from here on in) with supernatural powers. Ten years later Victor esca...
Echo Boy by Nestlé Smarties Book Prize winner Matt Haig is a stand-alone science/speculative-fiction novel set exactly 100 years in the future. It offers a vision of...
Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she only has a single body and serves the emperor she swore to des...
Orson Scott Card
A powerful secret. A dangerous path. Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg's strange t...
Jonathan L Howard
The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pres...
Steven L Kent
Earth, 2508 A.D.. Humans populate the six arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. The oppressive Unified Authority controls Earth’s colonies with an iron first, stamping out re...
The Adventures of Nana Barb
The Universe is dangerously close to collapsing. With a shady authority known as the Time Police on their tail, will the Timeseekers be able to save us all? Their only hope...
The Maze Runner
When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade -...
A Wrinkle in Time
When Charles Wallace Murry goes searching through a 'wrinkle in time' for his lost father, he finds himself on an evil planet where all life is enslaved by a huge p...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: