Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
read by Wil Wheaton
Published 2011 by Random House Audio
15 hours, 30 minutes. Unabridged.
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
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?
Ready Player One is a futuristic adventure about a teen who goes on an epic 80’s themed journey to find hidden Easter eggs in a virtual world called Oasis. Oasis is a more complex version of Second Life and World of Warcraft. Anything goes, and people all over the world have a chance at a new if fantastical life in the virtual realm. While the real world lays in disarray, and all economies are failing, the virtual world is thriving. The creator of the Oasis, a futuristic Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, is a rich and famous recluse who in his old age becomes nostalgic for his youth in the 1980s. Upon his death he reveals that Easter eggs have been hidden throughout the Oasis, and whoever can find all of them first, will inherit his estate. As you can imagine this grabs the attention of the entire world, who revive everything 80s themed in a hope that by learning about 80s pop culture, they will be able to understand clues to find the hidden Easter eggs. After the creators death a new profession is created, a gunther. This is someone who spends his time researching and searching for the Hidden Easter Eggs in the Oasis. Some gunthers work in teams or independently, but others are employed by mega corporations who aspire to gain control of the Oasis. These corporations throw mountains of resources at their employees in exchange for a contract that states if they find all the Easter eggs they will give it to the corporation.
Our main character is a gunther, and the story begins 5 years after the death of Oasis’ creator. It focuses on our protagonist and some of the other most skilled gunthers. The story is read by Geek Legend Will Wheaton, who does an excellent job of bringing the world of the Oasis to life. I loved hearing his voice narrate the story, however his characters were so unique, that it didn’t remind me of any other characters I’ve seen previously.
The story is fast paced and action backed. It is also filled to the brim with cheesy and fun 80’s references. The world of Oasis reminded me of Snow Crashed, the Anime Summer Wars, Second Life, and a bit of Mine Craft. It’s a place I wanted to visit immediately. What was unique about this novel was the giant puzzle the characters were trying to solve. Casual Puzzle Games are becoming more popular everyday, but the puzzles in Ready Player one are unlike ones I’ve seen before. They involve a strong knowledge of 80s Pop Culture and awesome video game skills. Its part puzzle hunt, part geocaching, and part video game.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed their youth in the 80s, anyone who likes technology, trivia, RPGs or video games, and anyone that likes SciFi, Humor, or adventure stories. The story will appeal mostly to 20 and 30 year olds, but I’d give it to middle school students through adults.
This was one of the best books I’ve listened to this year.
The technology almost exists today to allow us to live a completely virtual world, although I hope we don’t have to deal with the reality that depicted in Reading Player One. Hopefully soon I can play in the Oasis.