Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
The worldwide bestseller—now a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.
In the year 2045, 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.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2011: Ready Player One takes place in the not-so-distant future–the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people (or at least they can meet their avatars), and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday’s fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy. And there are real dangers in this virtual world. Stuffed to the gills with action, puzzles, nerdy romance, and 80s nostalgia, this high energy cyber-quest will make geeks everywhere feel like they were separated at birth from author Ernest Cline.–Chris Schluep
Guest Reviewer: Daniel H. Wilson on Ready Player One by Earnest Cline
Daniel H. Wilson is the New York Times best-selling author of Robopocalypse.I dare you not to fall in love with Ready Player One. And I mean head over heels in love–the way you fall for someone who is smart, feisty, and who can effortlessly finish your favorite movie lines, music lyrics, or literature quotes before they come out of your mouth.
Ready Player One expertly mines a copious vein of 1980s pop culture, catapulting the reader on a light-speed adventure in an advanced but backward-looking future.
The story is set in a near-term future in which the new, new form of the Internet is a realistic virtual multi-verse called the OASIS. Most human interaction takes place via goggles and gloves in millions of unique worlds, including the boring (and free) “public education” world from which our teenage protagonist must escape.
Our unlikely hero is an overweight trailer park kid who goes by Wade Watts in real life, and “Parzival” to his best friends and mortal enemies–all of whom he interacts with virtually. Just like the Arthurian knight that is his namesake, young Wade is on a quest for an incredible treasure guarded by mythical creatures. Specifically, the creator of the OASIS and richest man on the planet, James Halliday, stipulated in his will that his fortune be given to the first person who can find an “Easter egg” hidden somewhere in the OASIS. The catch? Every devilishly complex clue on this treasure hunt is rooted in an intimate knowledge of 1980s pop culture.
This leaves the people of the future hilariously obsessed with every aspect of the 1980s. The setup is particularly brilliant, because Ernie Cline seems to have a laser-beam knowledge of (and warm, fuzzy love for) every pop song, arcade game, and giant robot produced in the last thirty years. Seriously, this is a guy who owns and regularly drives a 1982 DeLorean that has been mocked up to look exactly like the time-traveling car in Back to the Future, complete with a glowing flux capacitor.
But Ready Player One isn’t just a fanboy’s wet dream. Real villains are lurking, threatening our hero with death in their ruthless hunt for the treasure. Worse, these corporate baddies are posers with no love for the game – they have movie dialogue piped in via radio earpieces, use bots to cheat at arcade games like JOUST, and don’t hesitate to terrorize or murder people in the real world to achieve their aims inside the OASIS.
As the book climaxes, a mega-battle unfolds with sobering life-or-death stakes, yet soldiered entirely by exciting and downright fun pop-culture icons. The bad guys are piloting a ferocious Mechagodzilla. Our good guy has to leave his X-Wing fighter aboard his private flotilla so that he can pilot an authentic Ultraman recreation. And how do you not grin when someone dons a pair of virtual Chuck Taylor All Stars that bestow the power of flight?
Cline is fearless and he lets his imagination soar, yet this pop scenery could easily come off as so much fluff. Instead, Cline keeps the stakes high throughout, and the epic treasure hunt structure (complete with an evolving high-score list) keeps the action intense. The plot unfolds with constant acceleration, never slowing down or sagging in the middle, to create a thrilling ride with a fulfilling ending.
Best of all, the book captures the aura of the manifold worlds it depicts. If Ready Player One were a living room, it would be wood-panelled. If it were shoes, it would be high-tops. And if it were a song, well, it would have to be Eye of the Tiger.
I really, really loved it.
— Daniel H. Wilson
REVIEW FROM READER
Eureka! I finally found one: an audiobook that I loved. I mean what 80’s baby wouldn’t appreciate an audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton loaded with 80’s pop culture references to boot? Fun Fact: my favorite Wil Wheaton movie is Toy Soldiers.
I will admit that when I first read the synopsis of this book I didn’t think it was my jam. My best friend convinced me otherwise and boy was she right! I loved it! Like really loved it. I am not sure if I would have felt the same way reading the book versus listening; I think since I enjoyed the narration that I was more engaged. Either way I now can’t wait for the movie coming out in March.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is about a highly introverted billionaire, James Halliday, whom leaves his fortune and control of his company to one lucky winner of a treasure hunt he has created inside the virtual reality environment (the Oasis) that he has also created (Wow, realized I wrote a sentence that could easily become some sort of tongue twister). Halliday loves the 80’s: its music, movies and video games…if you don’t, well then you probably would not have had a chance at winning the prize (and would not enjoy this book/audiobook as much).
As someone who is not typically a fan of this genre, what Cline and Wheaton did with this story kept my attention. I did not harp too much on the numerous stereotypes within the book (stereotypical traits of gamers, nerds, and the like) and took the story for what it was (well, to me at least): an entertaining story that brought me into a new world that had me fully engaged from the start. I will certainly be expanding my reading selections moving forward.
Still need convincing (or just enjoying my review)?: One of the book’s main characters is a strong female heroine who is super smart and kicks butt.
Movie will be released March 29, 2018…countdown is on! Who’s coming with me?