Ready Player One (Movie Tie-In): A Novel

by Ernest Cline

Paperback, 2018





Ballantine Books (2018), Edition: Media tie-in, 400 pages


"In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the Oasis. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines -- puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win -- and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape"--Page 2 of cover.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

400 p.; 7.93 inches

Media reviews

Ready Player One borrows liberally from the same Joseph Campbell plot requirements as all the beloved franchises it references, but in such a loving, deferential way that it becomes endearing. There’s a high learning curve to all of the little details Wade throws out about the world, and for
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anyone who doesn’t understand or love the same sect of pop culture Halliday enjoyed, Ready Player One is a tough read. But for readers in line with Cline’s obsessions, this is a guaranteed pleasure.
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3 more
"Cline is an ingenious conjurer talented at translating high concept into compelling storytelling."
The breadth and cleverness of Mr. Cline’s imagination gets this daydream pretty far. But there comes a point when it’s clear that Wade lacks at least one dimension, and that gaming has overwhelmed everything else about this book.
"Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline’s first novel is old wine in new bottles. "

User reviews

LibraryThing member msf59
“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that makes life bearable.” J.H.

James Halliday was a video game magnate, in the Bill Gates/ Steve Jobs mold. He created a video game called the Oasis, which in 2044 is a world-wide phenomenon. Since the world on the
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outside is so bleak and dreary, everyone loses themselves in this virtual universe.
A few years earlier, Halliday died and keeping with his uber-Geek nature, planted a treasure egg deep in the Oasis and whoever finds it, will inherit his vast fortune. Of course, this causes chaos, as millions begin the quest.
Halliday had grown up as a teenager in the 80s and was completely infatuated with the pop culture of that time, so all the clues that lead to the “egg”, are nerdy references to that decade, which leads everyone to immerse themselves in the video games, music, movie and TV shows of that era.
Five years after Halliday’s death, no one has come close to finding the treasure. Then we meet Wade Watts, a lonely, orphaned 18 year old, living in a ghetto of high rise trailer-homes. Wade had been on the hunt for years and finally makes a monumental discovery…
Sure, it helps to have some geek knowledge of those times: the Atari and Nintendo games, the John Hughes films, Dungeons and Dragons, Family Ties, War Games, Transformers, Blade Runner, Monty Python and much much more but this is a fun action-packed read, widely creative and ambitious. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member cameling
The year is 2044, the various wars between nations have resulted in a world of darkness, poverty and danger. But OASIS provides the virtual world everyone escapes to. Virtual classrooms, virtual planets, avatars of your choosing, shopping malls, even virtual towns that resembled the towns in the
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20th Century. And best of all, setting up an OASIS account is free.

In this world enters Wade, whose avatar Parzival, goes to the OASIS public school on the planet Ludus. He has a best friend, Aech, a crush on Art3mis, and later meets Daito and Shoto, 2 Japanese avatars. The only thing they have in common is they're all avatars in OASIS, set on individual quests to earn credits that will allow them to make purchases for their online personas and level up to earn more talents and power.

But OASIS was invented byJames Halliday, and upon his death, he broadcasts his will and issues a challenge to all. If anyone can find the 3 keys that will lead them through 3 Gates and they find the ultimate prize, an easter egg, that person will inherit the immense wealth accumulated by Halliday and OASIS.

Needless to say this starts a race among gunters (egg hunters) who hunt individually or in clans. But there's an evil corporation, IOI, who have teams of Sixters, employees tasked with finding this Egg which will give IOI total control over OASIS, which they want to turn into a fee-based service.

The hunt is made more difficult because all gunters need to understand Halliday, an eccentric recluse who loved everything about the 1980s. The entire book is filled with wonderful references to video games and arcade games popular in the 80s, books, movies, tv series and music of the 80s. Lyrics and scripts are cleverly woven into the quest. In addition, the IOI appear to stop at nothing to find the ultimate prize, even murder.

But underneath all the nostalgia for the 80s, as with any good quest, our protagonist has to learn through his mistakes and about human relationships, that the online world is fantasy and that there is a real world out there that he should learn to enjoy as well.
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LibraryThing member usagijihen
I can’t rave enough about this book. The world-building, the very plausible future constructed, the characters – all of it, all of it was awesome and great and wonderful! I seriously could not find any flaws whatsoever with this book. So let’s delve into why this is one of my best of 2011,
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shall we?

Where to start? I love the detailed construction of this Steve Jobs/Bill Gates god-like figure, Halliday – even though he only makes his presence known in the book through his death, through various “biographies” and through his OASIS avatar, he felt like a very real, palpable person. The alternate history created by the author detailing the creation of the OASIS system was also very realistic, a sense of what could have been had we chosen right instead of left, the path not taken.

And then there’s the reality we’re facing right now outside of the book in the real world – the Great Recession, where in the book, it’s entering its fourth decade. It’s a warning of what may come if we don’t deal with some of the more pressing ideological and political issues, and how all of that will take its toll on not just the American people, but the world as a whole. The need for a place like the OASIS becomes more and more understandable as we read through this alternate history and into this alternate (though possible for us) future.

And finally, there is Wade himself, and the quintessential coming of age tale that’s been taken to over the top levels in terms of the stakes of the character’s evolution through the book. Wade goes through not just one search, but three: what does it mean to be human? What is reality? And what does living an alternate reality without humans around us do to us – do we remain human, do we become something else? All of these questions are raised throughout the book, and to a very satisfying (and one I won’t spoil) end.

If you’re a geek, I guarantee this is definitely a book for you. If not, you may have a harder time getting into it with all of the somewhat obscure (though explained by our hero) pop culture references. Either way, I urge you to give this one a read. I think you’ll find that you too will become an OASIS addict, a gunter cheering Wade on to greatness.

(posted to goodreads, librarything, shelfari, and
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LibraryThing member bookmagic
I don't like science fiction books, futuristic books, books about gaming, and anything resembling dystopian. Yet, this book was on a lot of "best of 2011" lists so I decided to read it. And I LOVED it. Yes, LOVED. I really liked Wade and felt an instant connection to him. He reminded me a bit of
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Sebastian from The House of Tomorrow. Wade had nothing and had to fend for himself, in reality and in the world of OASIS.
The author does a great job of creating such an amazing reality in the world of OASIS that it is a bit jolting during the brief times in the real world. This novel works on many levels. It can be seen as a cautionary tale in an already online obsessed world, where will we be in 30-40 years from now? It is also a coming of age tale, as Wade goes through the usual teenage angst. It also tackles the individual vs. large corporations.
I spent my teen years in the '80's so I loved all the references to that period.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Even if you don't think it will appeal to you, I think it will. It transcends whatever genre it is. It is definitely a book I will reread and though it's still very early, I bet it makes my best of 2012 list!
my rating 5/5
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LibraryThing member rivkat
In a future world of unemployment and limited energy, almost everyone spends their time online in OASIS; the vast wealth of its founder is up for grabs for anyone who solves the founder’s dying puzzle, which depends on intimate knowledge of 1980s US geek gamer culture, because the founder was
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such a huge fan of sf/fantasy/pop culture. So OASIS Easter egg hunters (“gunters”) spend their days absorbing that particular slice of the past. Our narrator, a penniless high school student who’s immersed himself in 1980s videogames, manages to find the first Key.

This list, every member of which appears on my shelves too, will tell you something about what you’re getting in the way of cultural references: “I’d worked my way down the entire recommended gunter reading list. Douglas Adams. Kurt Vonnegut. Neal Stephenson. Richard K. Morgan. Stephen King. Orson Scott Card. Terry Pratchett. Terry Brooks. Bester, Bradbury, Haldeman, Heinlein, Tolkien, Vance, Gibson, Gaiman, Sterling, Moorcock, Scalzi, Zelazny.” Listen, I’m happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but somewhere Octavia Butler is unsurprised. List of other media follows, e.g., “[the founder] didn’t seem to have had very discerning taste. He listened to everything. So I did too. Pop, rock, new wave, punk, heavy metal. From the Police to Journey to R.E.M. to the Clash. I tackled it all.” Yes, he certainly tackled it all. I can’t think of anything left out, can you? Oh, wait! “I watched a lot of YouTube videos of cute geeky girls playing ’80s cover tunes on ukuleles. Technically, this wasn’t part of my research, but I had a serious cute-geeky-girls-playing-ukuleles fetish that I can neither explain nor defend.” Sigh. Never mind.

Our hero even renames a Firefly-class ship he captures in OASIS Vonnegut from Kaylee, which is a bit on the nose. I really did not want him to get the girl, but as white-dudely gamer power fantasies go (think Doctorow’s Little Brother), the story did finish engagingly, with a complicated scheme and last-minute setbacks and a big (unnecessary, lampshaded) boss fight at the end.
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LibraryThing member kraaivrouw
Ready Player One is a gamer book. It's full of '80's trivia and particularly old gaming trivia, but you don't have to be a gamer to enjoy it. I say this because I am a lifelong gamer and I am instantly suspicious of anything that purports to be about gaming because 99.9% of the time there are
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fundamental things wrong that glare out in distracting ways and ruin the whole experience. I know, very doctrinaire, but it's gaming - it's a way of life. Seriously.

Ready Player One delivers the pop culture geeky punch and does a good job of talking about what it's like in big virtual reality communities - whether MMORPG's or Second Life or the old school (and much smaller) environments of MUDs and MOOs. I found all of these elements in the book spot-on and I loved the gamer history and all the '80's references.

All gaming has some basic commonalities. I often use these to try to help people I work with who don't game understand why I do. It rarely works, but I keep trying.

Most gaming experiences run along a similar trajectory. There are quests, some of which add to the storyline and some that drop great loot - if you're lucky, you get a quest that does both. You do quests to gain experience and gear so you can level up. It's a very goal oriented activity. You have objectives, you complete them, you get rewarded. It gets more and more fun as you level up and then you hit top level and in most games there's not really anything left to do.

Gaming is great for hand/eye coordination, great experience to take into work or school. It often requires teamwork with people you don't like, helps your strategic and tactical thinking, and gets you through the work day because everything becomes a quest/mission if you have the right kind of imagination. "Today I will do the leadership presentation quest so I can continue to level up my charisma, endurance, wisdom, and intelligence." However, like work when you hit the top level of whatever job you're in it gets boring and you're ready to move on.

In many ways Ready Player One follows the gaming trajectory and that's kind of unfortunate. The first half of the book is an outstanding read. I loved the setup and really loved the interaction between the players and the sense of competition that happens when everyone is pretty low level and still trying to figure out how to survive. It was sharp, funny, and spoke to my heart.

Unfortunately everyone has to level up and when they do the story gets much less interesting to me. Yes, there's still a lot of fun in that second half, but it's just not satisfying in the way the first half is. It's kind of like superheroes - lots of them are really boring because they just don't have enough vulnerabilities and you know they're going to win the day. There are big exceptions to this statement, but ultimately most superheroes are kind of boring to me.

Overall an excellent and fun book. Mr. Cline can write and his pop culture trivia/history, even in the arcane world of gaming, is spot on. He gets special props because he's great at covering all gaming - single player, pen-and-paper, arcade games, shooters, and virtual reality games of various kinds. This is a big field and anyone with this much knowledge is probably a serious gamer.

If you're trying to place the book in a genre category, fantasy and/or science fiction and/or dystopian probably work. Personally, I thought it sounded awesome, but I'm a gamer geek. We all want more time off from work to play our games so this future sounds pretty perfect.
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LibraryThing member KLmesoftly
For me this was basically a fun popcorn flick in novel form - light, entertaining, super fast-paced, but also not very deep and with a lot of moments that made me roll my eyes after I thought about them a bit. The plot was familiar, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing - it was comfortable, in the
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sense that the whole time I was reading I "knew" what was going to happen and all that was really in question was how exactly the author intended to get me there in the end. I've already recommended it to a couple people, and I'll be interested to see if (when) the movie adaptation is made - I think this story will be really well suited to that format!

I'm a sucker for the "game show/competition on a large scale" trope in novels (especially if the stakes are life and death, which in this case they are not - directly) and on that front it did not disappoint.

That said, don't pick this one up looking for anything deep or particularly meaningful. The characters are all pretty one-dimensional: there's the poorly-researched Japanese stereotype who misuses fanboy Japanese words like "seppuku," the low-income computer genius hacker savant with a little bit of baby fat he loses via time lapse exposition 60% through the novel, and of course, the sassy love interest who is not at ALL like those other female avatars around and is accessible and secretly insecure about a physical non-flaw (I was betting on something like a prosthesis or wheelchair use; it wound up being a birthmark).

The challenges the characters face don't hold up to fridge logic particularly well - for example, are we really supposed to believe that in five years nobody really thought to literally interpret the clue "you have much to learn" as a call to go scope out the level where all the school buildings are located? There aren't many surprises thrown into the formula used: character comes up from adversity, character makes a surprising discovery, character experiences setbacks and is joined by friends, someone dies tragically, characters vow vengeance, characters part ways and eventually must come together in the end, etc etc etc - with 80s trivia!

And this is petty, but I have to nitpick since gaming is my industry: I hope Ernest Cline has rethought his views on the holiness of freemium gaming - it's amusing that aside from the generic Evil Corporation Stuff perpetrated by the villains, their main flaw is that they want to make OASIS into a subscription gaming site (like World of warcraft and other similar currently-existing sites). This is presented as being somehow less democratic than the service's current incarnation as a "free" service where anyone can create an avatar, but the game is unusable and boring unless you pay to leave the starter levels and buy equipment.
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LibraryThing member ScoLgo
A fun concept that fell a bit flat for me. Before reading Ready Player One, I had just finished reading The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier. Why do I mention this? Because both stories, while worlds apart in theme and subject, share a first-person narrative. Du Maurier's story is masterfully
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rendered and features exquisite dialogue. By comparison, Cline's first-person approach is clunky and the dialogue is awkwardly written more often than not.

Both books kept me reading though. Cline does write some nicely descriptive action sequences and the puzzles and worlds he dreams up are pretty cool. But the incessant info-dumping and pedestrian character development dragged this down to a 3-star read for me. It could have been so much better.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
What a fun ride to the past Ready Player One by Ernest Cline turned out to be. Reliving the pop culture of the 1980’s while reading about a futuristic America was a total blast. The story started off slowly with character introductions and scene setting, but suddenly it took off and I was glued
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to the pages, totally addicted to this roller coaster ride of a 1980’s trivia inspired adventure.

Music and movies have always played an important role in my life and I loved the many references to these throughout the book. The author took some of the best movie plots of the Eighties and included them in his book, so we are treated to a great “buddy” story, a sweet love story, a treasure hunt with billions of dollars at stake and a total geek love-fest. My Eighties were taken up with working and raising a family, but even I spent some time at PacMan, Q*Bert and other early video games, I can only imagine the joy this book would evoke in a avid games player.

I am usually quite leery of books that receive this type of “buzz”, but Ready Player One really spoke to me. Using a plethora of eighties detail the author convincingly lays out his action packed story of the future, but there is a small warning on these pages of how the real world could suffer if an addiction to virtual reality were to take over as it has in Wade’s world. I suspect Ready Player One is a polarizing book according to how the reader is affected by the concept, and although this was far from the best writing, for me it’s an easy 5 stars for sheer enjoyment and gut-appeal.
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LibraryThing member norabelle414
About 30 years in the future, the world is a dirty, overpopulated, generally crappy place. To avoid the awful reality they live in, everyone spends all of their time in a world-wide simulation program called OASIS (get it?!). It's a massive virtual universe, populated by millions of virtual planets
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with billions of things to do. And most importantly, it's free. Sure, you have to pay for items and travel inside the game, but access to the universe is open to everyone. OASIS grows into such a huge part of everyone's life that it almost becomes reality. Our main character, Wade Watts, even goes to school inside the simulation.

OASIS was imagined, designed, and built by a pair of men, Ogden Morrow and James Halliday, the latter of whom dies just before the beginning of the book. He leaves his entire fortune, and controlling interest in the company that owns & runs OASIS, to whomever can complete an arduous quest which Halliday hid inside the simulated universe. As you can imagine, this is greatly appealing to everyone, from videogame buffs to the evil IOI corporation, who wants to control OASIS so that they can start charging a monthly membership fee and filling it with advertisements. Halliday was obsessed with the technology and pop culture of the era in which he was a teenager: the 1980s. As a result, anyone who wants to stand a chance of beating the puzzles must become obsessed with the 80s too.

Enter our protagonist, Wade Watts, a poor, nerdy, Midwestern orphan. As you can imagine, he stumbles upon a clue that almost everyone else has missed, due to his hard work, smarts, and a respect for Halliday that seems to be deeper than other people's. The discovery of the clue vaults Wade to instant celebrity, with all of the hazards that accompany it, but the puzzle is far from solved yet. Wade's character is written so vividly, and with such heart, that I felt from the beginning that I was Wade.

I enjoyed this book immensely, and found the characters very relatable, despite the fact that I don't especially love video games, or role-playing games, or the 80s. That's because of two things: a) how well the characters are written and b) nerds understand each other. I don't obsess over old computer games or John Hughes movies but I understand what it's like to obsess over other things, and how I feel when I meet people who share my interests.

You don't have to get every single pop culture reference to understand and appreciate this amazing book. (Personally, I would have found it really distracting to look them up while I was reading.) All you need to understand is what it feels like to be a nerd.
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LibraryThing member souleswanderer
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

It's a book about a computer game. Uh-huh.

It's a book about finding an Easter Egg. Computer game with bunnies?

Whoever discovers the hidden secret will become the heir to a multibillion dollar company. Visions of chocolate covered bunnies running around hiding
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colored eggs in Willy Wonka's factory.

I promise you'll like it. Do I detect a gleam in the eye reminiscent of Gene Wilder?

I buy the book, take it home, and open it, discovering it's a book about a geek.

Meet Wade Watts. An eighteen-year-old high-school senior, living with his aunt in a trailer park, and a kid totally immersed in a computer game.

Let me fill in the rest. The year is 2044. There is a major energy crisis throughout the world, famines, unemployment, and poverty. Wade lives in the fifteenth floor of the 'stack', a conglomeration of mobile homes stacked upon other mobile homes to accommodate the overabundant population arriving in the cities.

The computer is not only an escape, but it is a way of life for a lot of folks. 2012 brought a new revolution in the computer industry when a couple of individuals introduced OASIS. A totally integrated global system that allows you to create a character, known as an avatar, and live in a make-believe world using a pair of goggles and a glove to control your alter-ego in the game. Imagine Facebook on nitro-Speed.

When the game's designer, James Halliday dies, leaving no heirs, a video is released worldwide explaining the rules of a contest. Anyone familiar with computer games knows that programmers can be a quirky lot and will hide secrets within their games. These little secrets are nicknamed Easter Eggs and usually upon discovering them the player is then rewarded with some sort of a prize. Halliday's prize is sole ownership of the massive corporation and two hundred and forty billion dollars.

There are three keys hidden, and each key will open a new gate and a challenge. Once the final challenge is completed that individual is deemed the winner. Sounds easy enough until you realize the first clue is in the form of a riddle. We're talking cyberspace here, where there are an infinite number of locations, with new ones created every second in which you could hide a single key. Impossible.

Lucky for our protagonists, Ernest Cline saw the futility in that kind of a search and imbued James Halliday with a fervent obsession with all things 1980s. A mad genius. You figure out which I'm referring to after reading the book.

The author does a thorough job of describing obsolete and not-so-easy-to-understand jargon for the uninitiated (newbies), while engaging the more die-hard computer users and gamers (geeks), that grew up in the early years of home computing. I was once more reminded that I'm on the far side of casual geekiness myself, having started with the same Tandy Color Computer from Radio Shack as Halliday, although mine only came with 4k memory. For me, a wonderful jaunt down memory lane and what are affectionately referred to as old-school games, including some of the very first arcade machines, of which I devoted more than my share of quarters to.
It's a book that really stands alone. Part mystery, part history, part espionage, part thriller, part comedy, part fantasy, and throw in a few others.

It's also a book about the strength of individuals uniting against corporate greed.

And lastly,

It's a book filled with pure nostalgic mind candy relating to the eighties.

Thanks for the memories, Ernest.
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LibraryThing member ladycato
There has been so much hype about this book, I wondered if it could live up to it. It did. Ready Player One is a fabulous nostalgia read for anyone who lives any part of their lives in the 1980s (and beyond, as current literature and cult phenomenons like Firefly also play a role)--especially if a
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person is of a more geeky inclination. I was born in 1980, and I admit, I didn't get all of the references because I was just too young to be playing early MUD games and the like. But a lot of the stuff I did get, and I was often giggling out loud in surprise.

This isn't a life-changer, or a tear-jerker, though it does make some deep commentary on what gaming means to people and how in-game avatars reflect/don't reflect who we really are. But it's meant to be a fun-filled romp, and that's all it needs to be. The good guys are good, the bad guys are really bad, and the story is full of twists and turns and glorious geekiness. If you love 1980s trivia, or classic arcade or home games, or anime, check this out. It's a fabulous ride.
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LibraryThing member porch_reader
I loved this book. It is in strong contention for the label of "most fun" book that I've read this year. I heard about it on the Books on the Nightstand podcast, and I"m so glad I gave it a try.

The book is set several years in the future. Wade Watts is a high school student who spends most of his
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time in the virtual world known as the OASIS. Because earth has become a pretty desolate place, Wade is not alone in using the OASIS as an escape. The virtual reality world has become even more popular since its inventor, James Halliday, posthumously announced that whoever finds three keys and a hidden egg in the OASIS will inherit his fortune. Because Halliday was obsessed with 1980's trivia, Gunters (as the egg hunters are known) have to bone up on movies, TV shows, songs, and video games from the era to have any chance of solving the riddles.

Cline keeps the pace of the story moving, while weaving in lots of 1980's pop culture references. Although the story is a little predictable - with clear good guys and bad guys - it is also incredibly clever. Cline describes the OASIS in vivid detail and throws up plenty of obstacles in Wade's way. I was sad to turn the final page of this engaging story - an excellent debut novel!
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LibraryThing member squirrelsohno
It isn’t often that you come across a book tailored to geeks and nerds that isn’t a new Star Wars encyclopedia or the Making of The Hobbit. Without the intervention of friends who brought this book to my attention, I would have never considered picking up READY PLAYER ONE. And I am clearly a
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big nerd – I have Star Trek toys, Farscape comics, a replica of Jayne’s hat from Firefly, and the complete series of Battlestar Galactica on DVD including the extra DVDs. Yeah, I’m a pretty big nerd, even though my nerdom is science fiction more than video games and obscure 80s movies.

READY PLAYER ONE is set in the near future where a virtual game platform called the OASIS has taken over life as we know it. People go to school on it, work on it, spend their entire lives on it, and thousands of people have dedicated their lives to finding the egg – the prize of a quest set by the dying founder, James Halliday, with billions of dollars and control of OASIS as the reward. The main character, Wade, also known as Parzival, is an 18 year old “gunter”, a kid who has basically given up a semblance of a real life in exchange for questing for the Egg, but since he’s poor, lives with an aunt that hates him, and stuck pretty much where he is, his chance of success is low, until fate gives him the one clue that he needs…

Let me just start by saying that yes, this is a book directed at geeks of all types. Science fiction, gaming, 80s pop music, 80s teen movies, 80s television, 70s anime… Did I mention gaming? Yes, this entire book is basically the tale of a giant game composed of little games – MUDs (if you’re ever in the market for a good MUD, I know them all sadly), console games, MMOs, computer games, arcade games. Wade is an expert, and Ernest Cline is an expert at guiding us through this maze of games and pop culture and weird trivia needed to solve Halliday’s quest. Weaving all this information and bits and pieces together, and having the reader make sense of it when they might not have seen WarGames 500 times is hard, but Cline keeps track of everything and guides the reader along the story with ease and precision.

Wade is an amazing, complex character that you can’t help but root for. This kid, in a desperate search for a better life, has basically sacrificed reality (school, friends, a life, etc) for the hunt. He’s made friends on the inside – his best friend Aech is the first, a snarky, bold character famous for his skills, eventually joined by the famed girl geek Art3mis and Japanese brothers Daito and Shoto. All are on the search for the same thing – the Egg that will grant them control. And all are being hunted by the same organization, the IOI, egg hunters led by the evil, manipulative Sorrento.

This book had heart, and at its heart was a message – don’t let fantasy overtake your reality. I mean, it’s a message I could sure use. I spend waaaaay too much time surfing the web or playing games. And the world building in this book is spot on and BELIEVEABLE. I can really see something like OASIS taking over our world, but at the same time, I can feel myself wanting that to happen. The possibilities of OASIS are endless and just seeing all this with my own eyes would be amazing. (And yes, Warner Brothers does have the film rights, but this book seems like it would be very hard to translate to screen.)

I’ll let you explore the book yourself to find every geeky nuance and humorous reference. Let me just say that this book has almost everything you could look for – fun, action, excitement, romance, nerdiness, humor, tension, and uniqueness. It’s not the best written book on the block, but Cline has clearly put heart and soul into this to create the ultimate geek novel. I just wish that maybe the ending had been more climactic with more stakes on the line than just the Egg. It was almost disappointing, rendering my rating down a notch, but this book was almost perfect on every level, and a book I would wholeheartedly recommend.

VERDICT: Only brought down by a slightly dull ending, READY PLAYER ONE is a geeky tour de force – great characters, a great plot, and so many pop culture references that your little nerdy eyes will explode. If you are a geek, this book is for you. Also, this guy wrote the screenplay for FANBOYS. This book is a step up!
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LibraryThing member bragan
It's sometime in the 2040s, and the real world is in bad shape. Fortunately, most people don't have to live in the real world because there's a whole virtual universe to inhabit instead, in the form of the Oasis. Think of it as a sort of three-dimensional Second Life, with some of the gaming
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aspects of World of Warcraft and more users than Facebook. The Oasis was created by -- what else? -- an eccentric computer genius, who reveals upon his death that he's planted a hidden easter egg somewhere in this immense online world and has willed his staggering fortune to whoever can find it. This leads, of course, to a massive worldwide obsession with hunting for the prize. It also leads to a massive worldwide obsession with 1980s pop culture, since said eccentric computer genius was himself obsessed with the subject, and he left strong hints that it would feature heavily in the puzzles players must negotiate to reap the reward. After five years of absolutely no progress, though, only hardcore devotees are still actively searching for the answer... until one day a poor, low-level high school kid solves the first clue. Suddenly the race is on, and some of the players are not interested in playing fair, or in using the prize for the betterment of humanity.

I could come up with a few nitpicks here. Like, the narrator spends a lot of time explaining things that nobody in his own world would possibly need explained. And the first clue really does not seem difficult enough to have stumped thousands of dedicated enthusiasts for five years. Things like that. But, you know, I don't think it really matters. The book works, anyway, mainly because it's just plain fun. I found myself quickly getting surprisingly caught up in the high-tech, high-stakes quest. Honestly, I never expected to feel this kind of tension just reading a description of someone playing Pac-Man.

There is, admittedly, something very sad about the idea of a world where people retreat from a decaying reality to spend all their time in virtual space wallowing in nostalgia for a decade most of them aren't even old enough to remember, and which, let's face it, wasn't exactly a perfect golden age, anyway. But even acknowledging this, it's still completely impossible not to enjoy this indulgent wallow in the pop culture of my youth, a youth in which an Atari 2600, a Trash-80 Color Computer, and repeated viewings of WarGames featured quite heavily. I imagine anybody more than a few years older or younger than my own just-turned-40 is likely to find less to appreciate here, but it seems I am exactly in the sweet spot for this, age-wise, and for me the constant, completely unapologetic blast-from-the-past feeling to it all was even more fun than the story itself.
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LibraryThing member pgmcc
Many people have talked about this book in glowing terms. The main point people made was that it was a nostalgia-pack for those who played computer games in the 1980s. As I did not play many video games in that decade I thought I would be a bit lost, but I was wrong. Not only does the book talk
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about video games, but it also references music tracks and films. I faired best with remembering the films, and remembered many of the earlier computer game consoles and computers.

Do not let the talk of video games put you off, or mislead you too much. This is an entertaining story about life in a tough time, socially challenged people escaping the harshness of life in the real world by immersing themselves in a virtual universe where they can make friends, and, as the cover states, it is a battle between good and evil.

I didn't find any significant quotable quotes that were not quotes from films of yesteryear, but I did enjoy the read. If this book had any underlying messages, they are, "it's good to have friends" and "get out more".

Part Two of the book is headed with a quote from Groucho Marx that is worth repeating: "I'm not crazy about reality, but it's still the only place to get a decent meal."

I give this book a solid four stars and I will probably watch the film when it comes out. I may not go to the cinema to see it, but then that would be in keeping with the ambiance of the story.
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LibraryThing member lkernagh
What a great book for channeling my inner geekness, or anyone's inner geekness! I loved the blending of '80s pop culture/ technological factoids with Cline's 2044 futuristic vision of technology, all showcased in a gritty dystopian-edged story. Cline has created the perfect corporate 'evil empire'
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in Innovative Online Industries, known by its acronym IOI, and a great protagonist in young Wade Watts. This is science fiction for the masses... a reader doesn't have to be science fiction fan to appreciate this one, but I think it does help to have an understanding of some of the retro technology referred to in the story, otherwise it can come across as a rambling of nonsensical jargon in a number of places.

For me, this raised great memories of the music, movies, TV shows, Commodore 64 computers, Atari and Nintendo game systems and video games from my adolescence. Great trip down memory lane! Cline's online world, the OASIS, doesn't seem all that far fetched, given the leaps in technology we have already seen in just the past twenty years, which makes it easy for someone not immersed in the techno-world to connect with story on some level.

The story is divided into three parts, which are aptly called 'levels' since this is a gaming quest. I am going to admit that level two had some weaknesses that allowed me to wean myself off the fixation I had developed for the story while reading level one. Level three was a good improvement and brought my page-turning interest back but the story never really re-captured that magical hold it had on me while I was reading level one.

Overall a great technology and pop culture adventure ride that I am recommending to anyone who might enjoy a good versus evil race to capture the flag - well, in this case 'capture the Easter Egg' - and has a bit of even latent inner geekness just waiting to come out. This is my favorite read so far this year!
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LibraryThing member SmithSJ01
I was very excited when I was offered this book via the Amazon Vine programme. However when I first started reading it I became concerned this wasn’t going to be the book for me. I was getting lost amongst the technical detail of the gaming world and I regularly had to stop to ask someone what
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the different terms meant. I loved the 80s references though and found they fitted in neatly; overall the concept of the book was great.

I hit a turning point once I decided to stop focussing on the technology and trying to get my head around the concept of OASIS. Once I’d done this I became totally absorbed in the story. The characters suddenly became more interesting and I was soaked up in the narrative. I was intrigued by the idea of being so lost in a virtual world that you prefer to spend time there than in reality and how the author discusses the issues the world in 2044 (when the novel is set) are facing.

Two things keep this book at four stars for me. One is the over-detailed explanation of the games being played, I found myself skipping through these as I felt they detracted from the overall story. The second is the fact that it just took me so long to get in to it. Possibly if some of the over-descriptions weren’t there I might’ve been able to get absorbed quicker.

This will make a great film!
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LibraryThing member chrisblocker
I wasn't very interested in Ready Player One when it was first published and in the years that followed. I'd known several readers who gave it very high praise, but I wasn't convinced. The reasons they supplied rested primarily on nostalgia. It sounded like the kind of story I'd love to snub, but,
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I admit, I was curious. I figured I might pick it up if I made it through the books I really wanted to read. (But that day would never come.)

One might imagine that the turning point came as a result of the forthcoming film adaptation of Ready Player One. The movie trailer has been quite popular in recent months. Many are picking up the novel for the first time. For me, it wasn't the movie trailer. My reason: my library is currently doing a community read of the novel and as I passed by a table filled with a hundred copies, I went with a whim. (Rather spontaneous of me.) I picked it up and started reading.

And I hated it.

Seriously, I. HATED. IT.

I don't abandon books often, but I was freakishly close to abandoning Ready Player One. I was seventy or eighty pages in. Not only was I bored, but I was angered. This was terrible writing. The plot was contrived. A flurry of action was followed by ten pages of info-dropping. Our protagonist goes on an endless rant about religion that has nothing to do with the plot. Why? Because clearly the author wants us to know how he feels about religion. Irrelevant. The world building was chaotic—oh yeah, it's the future, so much has changed, but only things that relate directly to the plot—everything else has remained the same. Apparently, we as a society have reached the height of interactive virtual reality, but still deal in basic ATMs, message boards, YouTube, laptops, and parcels and pizzas delivered by humans. Lazy. Uninspired. The story was unbelievable. No one could do the things these characters were doing. We're supposed to believe that people in their early twenties could tear through every bit of significant pop entertainment of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and somehow have time to scour over much of it hundreds of more times. No world that is in such desperate need for energy is going to waste such vast amounts of energy playing 8-bit video games. Somehow, this is supposed to save the world? Ready Player One sells itself as some brilliant vision of the future, but in reality it is a preposterous, self-absorbed fantasy by a nostalgic author with a major fetish for the 80s. Ugggghhhh.

I was so close to abandoning this novel. Why didn't I? One reason: I didn't have anything readily available to read in its place. I told myself I'd pick up another book next chance I got, but in the meantime I'd read another chapter to two, just to have something to read.

And then the bastard of a book pulled me in.

How sucked in was I? I'm almost embarrassed to say that I tore through this book. Like the next 300 pages in 24 hours. Does this mean the story became more plausible? That some deep meaning was unearthed in the OASIS? The juvenile writing improved? No. It means that I, a literary snob, was pulled into the... the... action of the story. Dare I say, the action was riveting. The story was... fun.

But it was fun the same way eating an entire package of pre-packaged cookies is. You know you can do better as far as taste. You know you should do better in regards to nutrition. But you can't stop. Your fat cells are screaming for more and it's all you have in the way of sweets. Okay, maybe that's a bad analogy. A more apt analogy might be... it's like a video game. Or binge watching your favorite series. You know there are a million ways you can better spend your time. You know that when you reach the end of your life, you're probably not going to say, “Dang, I wish I'd played more Dig Dug.” But you're enjoying yourself; what's the harm in that, right? Maybe.

That's what it is to read Ready Player One. It's low on substance, but it's a good action story. I wanted more from it and, had I known how it would turn out, I probably wouldn't have read it in the first place. But I don't regret reading it. It was enjoyable in its own way (but now I need to go on a reading diet).

Before I close, I'd like to take a moment to address one final thing about Ready Player One. While Cline may have had the best intentions in heart, his inclusion of a “heavyset African American” lesbian left me very uncomfortable. Why? It felt horribly, horribly forced. To me, this seems an example of someone trying to be inclusive who just doesn't get it. Whether the author was trying to be all-embracing out of the goodness of his own heart, or merely satisfying political correctness hoping it would find him readers, I cannot say for sure, but the portrayal is insensitive at best. The attempted message seems to be “look at the character, not the skin,” but how it's delivered is more of a message of “isn't technology great? Finally, everyone can be a thin straight white male!” Ugh. Like I said earlier in my review, the future is completely different, but it sure does look an awfully lot like 2011 to me: people live in stacked trailers, the world has run out of fuel, virtual reality reigns in the OASIS, there are only six Star Wars movies, one Blade Runner movie, and too many people just don't get it.

Ready Player One is a novel that I would normally award no more than two stars to. It failed in regards to the characters, the setting, the plot, and the prose—all lacked exceptionality. But I had so much fun. And I guess that should count as something.
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LibraryThing member SwampIrish
Are you a geek? Do you, or have you ever, played MMORPGs? Do you find yourself carrying the flame for everything 80s? If any one of these things is true, you might enjoy this book. If all three are true, run out and buy it right now.

In a dystopian near-future a wealthy billionaire game programmer
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wills all of his wealth to the person who cracks a series of 80s related puzzles scattered around OASIS (an online universe). A cyberpunk novel paying homage to all of the pop culture that spawned it. Find yourself a little too sophisticated for movies like Real Genius? How about a puzzle related to a critically panned Rush album? I think one of the things I liked most about this novel is the fact that if you lived in the 80s, Ernest Cline will eventually throw you a bone you like. In fact, Cline actually gives the 70s quite a few props as well.

Read it.
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LibraryThing member stellarexplorer
I told myself I would not dicker over the flaws and be a curmudgeon. At least not at first. But I will just give one sentence on that topic at the bottom of this.

The big picture for me is that I enjoyed this book a whole lot more than I expected to. Maybe I was too influenced by some who didn't
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care for it. But the fact is that the book was fun. It was a romp, and basically a happy tale (the crushing poverty aside!) of good triumphing over evil.

And while I expected to be too old for the references, having been primed for the notion that one needed to be playing games in the '80s to get this, that turned out not to be so. I had a basic familiarity with much of his gaming, cultural and other references. Being a kid in the 60s and 70s was I think as much a help as being a teen in the 80s. I played an awful lot of Tempest, which figured in the final scenes. And Defender, Space Invaders. All the early coin-operated games, which were popular when I was in college. And I watched Ultraman every day in the late 60s. And many of the critical movies referenced.

So that's my biggest takeaway: it was fun.

That doesn't mean I was not aware of clumsy execution, limited character development, jarring issues of pacing and premature discharge of tension, and even a disconcerting pervasive naivete. Very YA. Ok, had to say all that. Back to our regular programming...
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LibraryThing member 2wonderY
The first two discs dragged with pre-game set-up. But once the competition warmed up, the story and the characters got better.
LibraryThing member anderlawlor
I'm still getting my head around the intense referentiality of this book; perhaps the treatment of '80s nostalgia would be interesting to someone who didn't live through that decade, but for me the nostalgia was boring because all the references were to the lowest common denominator straight white
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boy geek culture (games, music, movies, TV). I was reminded of how boring that culture always was, how not particularly "alternative" or progressive the world of gaming was/is.

I think Cline's heart was certainly in the right place, in his descriptions of the world outside OASIS (the all-consuming interactive game everyone plays in the near future), but I don't think he went deep enough into the implications of this sort of world. This world had a dystopian-lite quality that I found disturbing. The character Art3mis's vague philanthropic leanings feel like social-conscience window dressing, another way to make her into a sexy smart girl who the "hero" can admire and win over.

SPOILER ALERT: Very early on, the protagonist's entire family (abusive and extended, sure, but kin) and community is murdered, with basically no emotional impact. And most of the plot is a version of "boy completes quest and is rewarded with girl" which even the most mainstream '80s movies had the good sense to at least question.

READY PLAYER ONE is well-crafted in that it's gripping, takes the reader on a ride, ends conclusively, all that. The supposed fun of the story has to do with solving a puzzle, but it's not really a puzzle for the reader. Reading this book was like watching someone else play a video game.
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LibraryThing member ropie
Reading [Ready Player One], it feels as if Cline has taken a very basic idea based on the internet and virtual reality, stretched it out over approximately 350 pages and added in a generous helping of 80s nostalgia for no other reason than it's quite cool at the moment and it fits with the general
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theme. And it works! I loved this book, not only for the above reasons but also for the somehow familiar but highly developed setting, and the characters who despite seeming to have been lifted straight from any manga film, are likable and individually all contribute important elements to the overall story. Those who say it's very hard to put down are right - Cline writes in an engaging and (usually) articulate manner and provides plenty of exciting twists in the plot. If there has to be a fault, it's the dialogue between the characters, which is hardly sparkling but then they are mainly a bunch of self-confessed computer addicts who hardly ever leave the house. My favourite book of the year so far, and it will be hard to top this for readability.
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LibraryThing member Paul.Miles
I described this book to a friend of mine, who is equally nerdy and fond of 80's pop culture references as I am, as "the prequel to the Matrix that we would write." It is full of humor for 30-somethings.

I was a little turned off with the development of the relationship between Parzival & Art3mis.
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It was a little too obvious. As was the late-chapter reveal regarding Aech. But if you separate the book into the in-game story and the IRL story, the in-game story is compelling enough to forgive shortcuts in the IRL story. Plus, it's meant to be a fun little homage to the 80's, and all of us dorks who still get giddy over a Alex P. Keaton reference. I can't wait to see the movie adaptation.
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