Flannery's Reviews > Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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's review
Aug 18, 11

bookshelves: i-want-to-go-to-there, arc-galley-or-first-reads, swords-and-lasers, so-good-i-stayed-up-to-read-it, reviewed-2011, readalong, read-in-2011, wishlist-for-dtbs-to-keep
Recommended to Flannery by: j
Recommended for: Anyone who loves the 80s, trivia, video games, RPGs, or is looking for a fun read.
Read from August 07 to 09, 2011, read count: 1

This book is nostalgia porn. If you grew up in the 80s, enjoy video games, or go crazy for popular culture, you will devour this one. I was supposed to be reading this with a friend but I couldn’t stop. I read the beginning and thought, “what’s the big deal with everyone’s obsession?” Then Ernest Cline got his meat hooks into me and I read it while I was making dinner, while I was eating dinner, and then afterward until I’d finished it. I think I am just a few years shy of this books prime audience but I can see how it will appeal to most of my fellow geeks friends. Ready Player One is set in a future where we have depleted our resources to the point where many people lives in Stacks, which are basically just trailer homes piled 20+ high and many people struggle to make ends meet. Wade Watts, the protagonist, attends school in OASIS like many of his peers. OASIS, an online world created by James Halliday contains thousands of different worlds, including copies of many famous sci-fi verses—I’m sure you could spend most of your time in Sunnydale or on Dune if you wanted to. In a very Westing Game move, Halliday leaves his entire $250 billion fortune to the player who can find the Easter egg hidden in OASIS. The book is set five years after his death and no player has gotten even one step closer to figuring out Halliday’s mystery. And the kicker? Halliday’s obsession, besides video games, was the 1980s. All the kids and adults alike are well-versed in all things 1980s from fashion to music to games to computers. These characters know more about the 1980s than most people who lived through it.

Wade Watts has spent years playing through all of Halliday’s favorite games and songs trying to figure out the first step. When Wade figures out the first move, his name shoots to the top of a previously empty high-scorers list and the world goes into a frenzy. The entire rest of the book follows Wade and his fellow contestants through the game in their attempts to reach the goal first. It seems like every person in the world is up against each other—especially the “gunters” (egg hunters) and the “sixers.” (Corporately-sponsored hunters who want to take over the OASIS for monetary gain, so-called because their avatar names begin with the number 6) My adrenaline ran high for the whole book. In fact, I actually kept speaking to Wade aloud. “Wade, what the hell are you doing? You are past the first gate! Pull your head out of your ass and stop spending your time at dance parties!” “Art3mis is so much smarter than you, Wade!” Wade’s fellow gunters include his long-time online crush, Art3mis and his BFF Aech (pronounced like the letter H). They were seriously awesome side characters with distinct personalities, which I especially enjoyed considering I have several friends on Goodreads whom I’ve never met in real life but I feel like I know pretty well. (view spoiler) My experience with WoW and Second Life is pretty minimal…well, I did once try Second Life but it mostly consisted of my friends and I goofing around and then accidentally wandering into an orgy and getting yelled at. Anyway, my point is that people quest all the time and talk to the same people regularly online. They have distinct personalities. I’m so happy that Ernest Cline was able to capture the personalities so well when the characters were only together outside of OASIS for limited amounts of time.

As someone who has spent probably entire weeks of her life playing video games, this book feels a bit like validation. SEE, NERD! YOUR TIME SPENT COLLECTING RUPEES WASN’T FOR NOTHING!

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this highly addictive and fun read!
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Reading Progress

08/08/2011 page 69
18.0% "This is reminding me of the times I tried WoW and Second Life. Both only lasted a few days. (and one involved watching avatar orgies)" 3 comments
08/08/2011 page 116
30.0% "So.Much.Fun." 1 comment
08/09/2011 page 200
52.0% "What the heck are you doing, Wade?! CONCENTRATE." 1 comment
08/09/2011 page 301
78.0% "One word to describe this book: NOSTALGIAPORN"

Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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Bridget Loved your nostalgiaporn comment. Now this one is on my must read list. Thanks

Catie Nice!

message 3: by Vinaya (new) - added it

Vinaya You caught me. I'm secretly a jolly-looking eighty-year old man with a white beard and a penchant for red felt. Oh, and I breed reindeer in the North Pole. (view spoiler)

Flannery I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

message 5: by Amber (new)

Amber Great review Flannery. Sounds interesting.

Eric Well that has my vote, I'm in!

Flannery Eric, I have a feeling you'd love this.

Crowinator I am so looking forward to this book. I hope my future will be filled with 80s references too. Love the shoutout to The Westing Game in your review -- that used to be my favorite book when I was a kid.

Flannery Me, too:) I still think the ending was so clever. Do they have RPO at your library yet? You should read it before it goes into circulation since it came out on Tuesday. It will only take you a day!

Stephen Great review, Flannery. Your "nostalgia porn" comment may be the best two word description ever for this book. I am reading it now (or rather listening to it read by Wil Wheaton) and my entire childhood is flashing before my eyes.

Flannery He is the perfect person to narrate this book. I plan on listening to the audiobook sometime soon. I look forward to your review--I know it'll be a good one!

message 12: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric OMG OMG OMG Wil Wheaton narrates the audiobook! Flannery! You just made my day!

message 13: by AH (new) - added it

AH Great review, Flannery. Sounds interesting.

Chichipio Time to confess: there's a tiny chance that I might not be a ferret. I hope you don't unfriend me.

Emily Flury "nostalgia porn"- nicely put

message 16: by Miriam (new)

Miriam mostly consisted of my friends and I goofing around and then accidentally wandering into an orgy and getting yelled at.

Like college!

message 17: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric Miriam wrote: "mostly consisted of my friends and I goofing around and then accidentally wandering into an orgy and getting yelled at.

Like college!"


Libby I can't wait to read it! Right now - I'm going through the top of my TBR list & I think you just helped me find my next pick! Thanks!

Flannery I hope you like it, Libby! I thought it was lots of fun and such a quick read. There weren't any lags at all. Have fun!

message 20: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric Did you see you can win a DeLorean! Which version of the book do you have, cause I had to pick up a print edition for this. https://www.youtube.com/w...more

Flannery That link doesn't work:( I saw that the author is coming to Seattle in July so I'm totally going to go see him!

message 22: by Eric (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eric Hmm, I think that was my bad, a copy and paste fail. Here's is the correct link. Do you own a physical copy? There's no way to win without it.


message 23: by Ryan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ryan Kountz It sounds great. I will be adding it to my reading list almost entirely on the passion of your review. Thanks.

Phillip Millman Your comment about nostalgia porn is prefect. I found it to be a well written book.

Melissa Ann Great review! Love the comparison to WOW & Second Life...it's exactly what I thought of as well!

message 26: by Marc (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marc Great review.

Julie Nostalgia porn. I love it!

message 28: by Grey (new) - rated it 4 stars

Grey Nostalgia porn. You called it. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It was *good* nostalgia porn.

David Avatar orgies? Are you kidding me? I guess the thing that kept me from getting interested in this book is that I found none of the OASIS experience slightly attractive. I don't play video games any more (although I HAVE spent hours breeding chocobos on ps1 when I was 15).

message 30: by Destinee (new)

Destinee Gant I agree. I am a little nerd. I love video games and this was a great book. I wasn't very familiar to the 1980's references but for me it didn't take away from the book. I really wish this stuff was real and I think that added to the excitement I had for the book. Great Read!

message 31: by Destinee (new)

Destinee Gant I agree. I am a little nerd. I love video games and this was a great book. I wasn't very familiar to the 1980's references but for me it didn't take away from the book. I really wish this stuff was real and I think that added to the excitement I had for the book. Great Read!

message 32: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Hebwood Couldn't agree more. When he got to the second gate and had to play Black Tiger through on one coin, I was like "yea baby! I could do that, too, back in the day...". What fun! :-)

message 33: by Christina Maria (last edited Apr 30, 2015 05:17PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Christina Maria The entire premise seemed too good to be true to me-and I had little motivation to suspend my disbelief. Halliday decides to leave his entire fortune and online sim (that pretty much runs the world) not to someone he trusts, but to whoever knows the most obscure '80s references. I think there was as much validation being given to Halliday as to the reader, which I think he cared about more than making sure the sixers taking control of his virtual wonderland and charging people for it.

I'm not surprised that it took five years for the contest to really begin (those clues were frustratingly cryptic), but I was surprised that everybody started figuring it out around the same time. Artemis was the first person to find the skull on Lusus, but conveniently can't beat the game so that Wade can show up and win about a week later. I'm also surprised that Halliday wanted schoolkids to solve the first clue, because a teenager is not the best candidate to have any degree of control over the lives of millions of people.

It's suspicious that Wade managed to beat the Sixers because they put in just as much dedication as he did and there were more of them. He was also less talented than Artemis evenly matched with Aech, but he had to win because he was the main character, and he was the main character because he was a white boy. (Would the story have been less compelling if Artemis or Aech won? I think not.)

I think that while this book provides validation for a niche audience, many other readers aren't going to be able wrap their heads around the entire world being obsessed with '80s culture in 2044.

message 34: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Hebwood Christina Maria wrote: "many other readers aren't going to be able wrap their heads around the entire world being obsessed with '80s culture in 2044."

That may well be, and in fact would even seem likely. And yet, the book is made into a Hollywood movie (Spielberg directing), so the big entertainment business clearly decided that the story has potential to appeal to a wider audience. Like boy wizards have done before...

I always find it hard to understand why certain things catch on, and others don't. Still, I am a member of your niche audience, and I loved it!

Christina Maria I can see the appeal for two specific audiences-since it's '80s references in YA packaging. I suspect that the second audience probably influenced the movie deal, and it caught on because teenagers love the idea of winning money and power through geekery.

message 36: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Hebwood Actually, thinking about it in light of your comment, I wonder whether it may not be both these audiences that Hollywood sees as lucrative target groups. Guys who were teens in the 80s are now middle-aged family-people, and may love the nostalgia of getting back to a time in which they were still experiencing the promise of the future. And their kids are the ones who are, as you say, currently dreaming the dream. Plus there was recently a revival of 60s chique in fashion, so in two to three decades from now we may well go back to the 80s... The more I think about it, the more I am beginning to realise that these audiences are mainstream... soon I will claim people who did not like it are niche... :-)

Christina Maria Most of the kids I've seen reading Ready Player One have parents born in the '60s and '70s, but there are people born in 1980 who have fifteen year old kids right now.

And of course there will always be teenagers who will sigh because they were born in the wrong decade and forget that that now they can enjoy the same music with superior technology (among other things). But that's not the same scale as the entire world, and the level of dedication/obsession the gunters put in is unusual even for geeks. Probably part of the reason the references are explained for the reader.

soon I will claim people who did not like it are niche... :-)
I'm pretty sure that would be most adults who lived through the '80s but have no particular fondness for it.

message 38: by Mark (last edited May 03, 2015 04:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Hebwood I can only speak for myself - if you have seen my review, you know I am a child of the 80s - and so I loved the nostalgia trip. But if I had not "got" many of the references ("get" meaning "remember as things that carry sentimental value"), the book would have made less sense to me. Had the retrospective part of it been set in the 60s, I would have been like "yea wha'eva. This is so 20th Century!".

But the forward-looking leg is very much cutting-edge. Virtual reality immersion, biometric interfaces, augmented reality etc is all stuff that is coming, and has already led to the most astounding applications in the fields of medical science and AI. London is one of the hubs for the new tech, and again it may be because this buzz is happening just on my doorstep that I can relate to it as well. Granted, the book was not about this, but for me it carried both sweet memories of the past and the promise of the future.

Just explaining why I liked it so much, btw. So far, I haven't talked about the novel as such - if you can be bothered and care enough, you can always check out my review. Not that I am suggesting you do not have better things to do in your life :-) Kindest, Mark

message 39: by Christina Maria (last edited May 03, 2015 08:53AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Christina Maria I wasn't nostalgic and I didn't quite buy into the way OASIS took over(especially since the way the world went to crap is so maddeningly vague). The action/adventure part of the book was what I liked best. I'll check out your review, thanks!

message 40: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Hebwood I think you may be right. Experience shows that society is so diverse that it is hard for just one thing to take over completely. If you remember (sorry, the 80s again... cringe) the Sony walkman coming out, people were predicting that human communication would diminish. 30 years on, it hasnt - if anything, technology has enabled communication, and heightened diversity. We (us two) would not be chatting about this without the tool of social media, for example. "Second Life", which basically is the real-life OASIS, has as yet not taken off to be something lodged in mainstream consciousness (like facebook or twitter).
Thaks for your thoughts - interesting chat!

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