Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Just finished reading Ready Player One.  Here is a perfect example of how not to judge a book by it’s cover (or it’s title for that matter).  If I’m going to be honest I would never have picked this book up from either – in fact with the UK version it’s hard to tell what the title actually is!   I sort of picked this up almost begrudgingly and with little expectation that I would like it but I’m really pleased to say it was a very good read.  Entertaining.  Different.  And, a total geek fest – which I just loved. Don’t be fooled by that remark though – this book isn’t exclusively for those that will understand the culture references.

The story is set in the future, although not that far in the future 2040s (ish)  Basically, the planet is in a bad way.  The earth’s natural resources have been seriously depleted.  Famine and poverty are rife.  And people have become addicted to a virtual game called Oasis – it’s an escape from the grimy world they live in at the least and it’s free.  Created by a genius, Halliday, the Oasis is vast, planets and solar systems beyond measure.  Anything seems possible.  And indeed anything is possible as we find out at the start of the story.  Halliday has died and his massive wealth has been bequeathed to whosoever discovers the whereabouts of an Easter Egg hidden within the Oasis.  Three keys must be uncovered that lead to three gates.  We’re talking about some serious cash right here and so of course the entire planet goes berserk trying to find that egg – after about five years of course a lot of people have cooled their ardour – except the really serious hunters – known as gunters and a massive corporation called IOI who are interested in taking over the Oasis and turning it into a money making machine, which means it will no longer be accessible to the masses – not to mention getting their hands on Hallidays stash wouldn’t go amiss.

Okay, I’m not going to try and pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.  I don’t suppose this is going to win any accolades for great writing.  But, I don’t think that matters here.  The story is intriguing, it’s original, insofar as a quest can be, the main character is likeable and it’s a fight between the poor old gunters vs the suits.

What did I like about it?  The characters – they’re not perfect.  Wade is a bit antisocial, he’s overweight, he has acne.  He lives with a family who couldn’t care much less for him and took him on board purely for the extra food vouchers.  He has very little other than his remote buddy Aech and his massive array of knowledge about Halliday.  That’s what I forgot to mention – Halliday was a major 80’s freak and so to win the Egg you’re going to have to know your stuff – everything, arcade games, music, films, everything!  And Wade has been studying hard.  In the Oasis Wade becomes something else.  He has his own avatar – which is pretty much based on himself but maybe a slightly slimmer version with no acne.  He has no money of course so everything is pretty basic for him.  That’s what I like about the start of the story – Wade (or Parzival as his avatar is known) has very little except his wits and he makes it through.  We have Art3mis – who Wade has a little bit of a crush on. Then there’s all the 80s references which I can’t deny are pretty amusing.  Put frankly it’s a bit of a feel good book with a lot of shout outs to the 80s.  Think Willy Wonka meets Indiana Jones all set on the planet Zorg – okay, not quite like that but just a bit.

it’s difficult to describe the setting because you spend very little time in one particular place but jump about all over the place using light speed and other means of dashing round the Oasis.

In terms of criticisms.  I think the author spends quite a bit of time info dumping – you get a lot of detail about how everything works.  Now given that I’m a bit of a stickler for detail I didn’t mind that too much but I did think it slowed certain parts of the book down, for example, haptic suits – stop telling me about the haptic suits already – I get it.  I also have a bit of mixed feelings about the 80s references.  There are all these sort of cool things chucked in here but then the author seems to go to the trouble of explaining them – which I guess is to cover all bets – not everyone will ‘get’ all the 80s references after all.  I suppose I don’t mind to a certain extent although as a bit of a book geek, for example, it makes you feel a little bit robbed!  Like you’ve just read something, got where the author was coming from, and then he’s gone and blurted out the method in the madness.  I suppose I need to get over that though!  Then there’s the fact that Wade/Parzival seemed to turn into like a master hacker/problem solver/hero overnight.  Again, I don’t really mind that because it is a bit of a rags to riches story but it just seemed a little rushed.

Niggles aside, I had really good fun reading this.  It made me laugh, in fact it made me make all sorts of little exclamations and ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ – which gave the people in work a bit of a giggle as well as they watched my reactions whilst I read.  Yes, I raced to the end, my impatience just got the better of me.  It’s not perfect, it’s not full of literary genius but it’s very entertaining.

17 Responses to “Ready Player One by Ernest Cline”

  1. Carl V. Anderson

    I believe I said in my review that had I actually picked this book up to read it I probably never would have finished it. There are some problems in the info-dumping and over-explaining departments. But in the midst of that there is just so much fun, and listening to Wil Wheaton narrate it on the audio version made it an incredibly entertaining experience. I had so much fun listening to him “be” Wade. And I love all the 80’s references. Took me back to my childhood/teenage years. Good times!

    I’m glad you enjoyed it despite its niggles.

    • lynnsbooks

      Yeah, the niggles were just tiny really. I loved all the film references – there are just so many that I’m not even going to start! Plus he made me laugh at quite a few other points. And I suppose there’s the whole thing of the underdog winning against a massive corporation. Plus, I was thinking, there has to be middle earth in this book somewhere and there it was with Og’s place that looked liked Rivendell. To be honest there were so many references that were just making me smile anyway that I couldn’t help enjoying myself.
      So, thank you, yet again, Carl.
      Lynn 😀

      • Carl V. Anderson

        Yes, this is one that I’m sure someone somewhere made a comprehensive list of all the references, and that too would be fun to check out. I remember some of the arcade/console games but not others. I was really pleased that Joust was involved so early. That was a game I was never very good at but always played whenever I went to the arcade.

      • lynnsbooks

        I used to love playing Pacman – but wasn’t very good at it. I had not idea how many levels were involved until I read this – it just highlights how really bad I was at the game!
        Lynn 😀

  2. nrlymrtl

    The US book cover looks odd to me too and I haven’t picked this book up. Other reviews I have glanced at have focused on the 80s references and I am glad you threw in the parts about this being set in the future, the game, and the hunt for fame and glory and riches. Now the book sounds interesting.

    • lynnsbooks

      To be honest I’m not really sure why I picked it up because I didn’t like the cover – I think it was probably Carl’s review for the book that made me note it down. It’s much better in terms of story than I expected – it’s a bit like the Goonies (which coincidentally is mentioned) – a treasure hunt but set in a virtual universe. I wouldn’t say it’s heavy on sci fi although Cline can be a bit over the top with all the descriptions of the gear. I think he’s trying to appeal to a younger audience as well which is why he probably throws in a few explanations about the 80’s references. But, on the whole it was really enjoyable, a fast read (you’ll probably finish it in a New York minute) it made me laugh – I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before with remarks about ‘slapping the salami’, for example – which just really made me giggle! (I am a bit of a child though). It’s a bit of a feel good book with a young geeky boy getting to kick some corporate butt!
      Lynn 😀

      • Carl V. Anderson

        I don’t like either hardback cover, but the trade paperback cover is actually not bad at all, in my opinion. Fits the story much better.

      • nrlymrtl

        Goonies and slapping the salami. Definitely making a detour to the library tomorrow on the way home.

      • lynnsbooks

        Hahah, I hope you pick up a copy, I’d love to know what you think – more to the point though I hope you like it. I think it’s good fun.
        Lynn 😀

  3. Marie

    This book is so much fun, I loved it. It’s one of the few books I remember reading in the past year or so that I genuinely couldn’t put down. Did you hear that Ernest Cline ran a real life Easter Egg contest through his website? I was so sorry to have missed it! Glad you enjoyed it.

    • lynnsbooks

      It is a lot of fun and I also really loved it. It’s probably not brilliantly written I suppose (although I liked the style) but I just really enjoyed the story and the whole ‘egg’ hunt. I wish I’d known about the Cline hunt – such good fun. I would love to join in with something like that although would probably be less than useless!
      Lynn 😀

  4. TBM

    Oh, I’m not a big fan of info-dumping either. I think readers can use their imaginations to fill in the gaps. But it sounds like you still enjoyed it.

    • lynnsbooks

      This was just really good fun. I liked the narrative style and the main protagonist was great – okay, he did make a bit of a leap into an almost dashing hero but who’s gonna complain!

  5. Carol

    Geek-fest and the 80s – you may have sold me.

  6. Top ten books I’d love to see as a movie or tv show | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – this could be a fantastic movie. […]

  7. TTT : Wish you were there? | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] 80s.  I love reading books set in the 80s such as Ready Player One, or One Word […]

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