Stephen's Reviews > Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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Aug 26, 11

bookshelves: 2011, science-fiction, audiobook, signed-first-or-limited-edition, cyber-punk-prep-and-post, comfort-food, world-in-the-shitter
Read from August 18 to 24, 2011 — I own a copy

WOOT, WOOT and UBER WOOT all you MMORPGers, this book is the perfect calm down, happy face diversion next time you find yourself offline and frustrated because:

** you’re stuck medding back in a safe zone after nearly being ganked by some douchey griefers who jumped your camp site when the mob you were going to farm spawned so they could kill steal it and abscond with your loot;

or maybe

** some group of questing ubers turned asshat and refused to let your alt join them so you could PL by leeching the req XP needed to ding your secondary avatar from its noob status to a respectable lvl;

or maybe

** you find yourself nerfed by some cockblocking GM after your mage’s Nuke spells become so uber when properly stacked that they can pwn any PVE and even dirt nap most elites in a PVP and send them back to their bind to needing to rez;

or maybe even

** you’re AFK for two minutes for a bio break and suddenly become LD as a result of spouse aggro after you told your guild mates you’d BRB so you could all raid a high risk dungeon for epics and mega XPs.

If you find yourself in one of the above predicaments (especially the last one), rather than raging at the unfairness of the world.....of warcraft, just put down the hot pockets, turn off the team speak line, maybe take a shower and brush your teeth, and then curl up with your real life avatar and geek out to the NOSTALGIAwesomeness of this 1980’s homage de extraordinaire that will have you spouting quotes from War Games and Monty Python’s Holy Grail while digging out your old Pac man posters and ALF t-shirts, listening to a little A Flock of Seagulls and Alphaville and dropping the first two seasons of Family Ties and Silver Spoons into your Amazon cart prepping for an 80’s TV marathon session.

This book is VH-1’s “I love the 80’s” coded for gamers….and it works beautifully.

Set in the mid 21st century when America has gone completely in the shitter and almost everyone spends the majority of their lives in a vast virtual-reality game/universe known as The Oasis. The Oasis is free to use (i.e., no monthly subscription fees) and there are no barriers to access. In fact, the Oasis is so all pervasive that game credits are the world’s most stable currency and the public school system has been coded online so people can learn from home.

The designer of the Oasis, James Halliday, was an 80’s obsessed super nerd who loaded his VR-world with tons and tone of simulations paying tribute to the decade of greed. Inside the Oasis, all things 80’s lurk and you can visit whole planets devoted to Star Wars, Blade Runner or the A-team or just sit in your virtual basement and watch every Japanese monster movie ever made.

The above is just a brief thumbnail of the Oasis which is incredibly complex and amazingly cool. Cline definitely gets an A+ for his world-building and his creation is certainly among the best world’s I have visited in my literary travels this year.

With that brief background, the plot concerns a race to control the Oasis after Halliday dies and leaves a most unusual will. He has hidden a “silver egg” in the Oasis that can only be located by first finding 3 special keys to unlock 3 special gates. The person that finds the egg will inherit Halliday’s entire fortune (240 B-B-B-Billion dollars) and, most importantly, become the owner of the Oasis itself.

Our hero is a high school kid named Wade who is a master gamer and knower of all things trivial from the 1980’s. He and a group of like minded “gunthers” are racing to find the silver egg before the big bad, meganormous corporation and their army of crew-cut, muscle-bound on-line soldiers discover it first and turn the Oasis into a corporate money-making machine.

That's about it for the plot description, but the real fun is in the pop culture details that saturate every page of the narrative. This is great escapism and I had a lot of fun with it. I will say that as good as this was, I couldn’t help but think that in different hands this would have been an easy 5 star “all time favorite” kind of book. I mean given the subject matter, 4 stars was almost pre-ordained. Still, I did really enjoy myself and the 4 stars are much deserved. It just wasn't perfect and I so wanted it to be perfect...but it is pretty darn close.

Finally, I want to point out that I listened to the audio version narrated by Ensign Crusher himself, Wil Wheaton, who was absolutely PERFECT for this book. This was one of those book/narrator combos that are just a match made in heaven. I certainly recommend going that route if you have the chance.

4.0 to 4.5 stars. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

**P.S. With regard to my introduction, I have never played an MMORPG before so I apologize to all the gamers out there if I totally messed up the terminology. I did my best and you guys should really put out a comprehensive dictionary to help us noobs out.
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Comments (showing 1-43 of 43) (43 new)

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message 1: by Anthony (new) - added it

Anthony Chavez I am interested in this one, let me know what you think.


Stephen Anthony wrote: "I am interested in this one, let me know what you think."

This is one I have been waiting on for a while as it seems to deal with so many things I love. I'm listening to the audiobook read by Wil Wheaton...so far, so good.


Crowinator Holy crapola, I had no idea Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook. He is everywhere these days!


Stephen Crowinator wrote: "Holy crapola, I had no idea Wil Wheaton reads the audiobook. He is everywhere these days!"

I know. He's doing a good job too. Dr Crusher would be proud of him.


Catie I saw that he was narrating the other week when my library posted it. He's the perfect choice!


Stephen Catie wrote: "I saw that he was narrating the other week when my library posted it. He's the perfect choice!"

I agree. He's exactly who I would have picked if I could choose from any of the narrator's I have listened to before.


message 7: by Anthony (new) - added it

Anthony Chavez I want to hear his version of Fuzzy Nation as well.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead I was just wondering about the narrator when I saw your comments. hmmm... maybe I'll put this on my audiobook list. I like Whil Wheaton. I'm sure you all think of Star Trek but for me... it is all Stand By Me!


Stephen Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalking wrote: "I was just wondering about the narrator when I saw your comments. hmmm... maybe I'll put this on my audiobook list. I like Whil Wheaton. I'm sure you all think of Star Trek but for me... it is all ..."

Michelle, I've listened to a few books he has narrated and he always does a very good job. Plus, this book is a match made in heaven for him given the tone and subject matter. Definitely worth it.


Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Stephen wrote: "Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalking wrote: "I was just wondering about the narrator when I saw your comments. hmmm... maybe I'll put this on my audiobook list. I like Whil Wheaton. I'm sure you all th..."

Ok, I'll give it a try!


Wendy Darling I'm only about 20% in, but so far this is great! All of my friends have rated it 4 or 5 stars.


Kemper I just finished listening to the audio book too. Will Wheaton did do a nice job on the narration. Did you catch that he even got to name check himself as one of the jokes/references?


Bridget Great review! I saw one reviewer called this nostalgia porn which I thought was an awesome description. Can't wait to read it.


Stephen Wendy Darling wrote: "I'm only about 20% in, but so far this is great! All of my friends have rated it 4 or 5 stars."

I think the book has a lot of 4 and 5 stars in its future as it is a pretty easy book to fall for. I hope you like it.


Stephen Kemper wrote: "I just finished listening to the audio book too. Will Wheaton did do a nice job on the narration. Did you catch that he even got to name check himself as one of the jokes/references?"

Yes, that was sweet. Wil and Doctorow keeping "the man" at bay.


Stephen Bridget wrote: "Great review! I saw one reviewer called this nostalgia porn which I thought was an awesome description. Can't wait to read it."

The "nostalgia porn" line was from Flannery's review and it is still the best single description I have heard for this book.


Daniel Wow. Set a book in a 21st century virtual world that fixates on the 80s, and you can side-step any slippery future projections. It's retro-future-sci-fi. Genius.


Stephen Daniel wrote: "Wow. Set a book in a 21st century virtual world that fixates on the 80s, and you can side-step any slippery future projections. It's retro-future-sci-fi. Genius."

There is certainly genius in the set up, but the genius went to 11 when Cline included "Ultra Man" in the story...that's right Ultra Man. It took 20 minutes for the smile to leave my face after that one.


message 19: by Anthony (new) - added it

Anthony Chavez Yes Ultraman!


Stephen Anthony wrote: "Yes Ultraman!"

Oh yeah...I mean how epic is that.


message 21: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent There's an Ultraman reference? Damn it, now I might have to read this.


Stephen Dan wrote: "There's an Ultraman reference? Damn it, now I might have to read this."

Not just a reference, but a full on significant cameo.


Daniel That is real genius.


message 24: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Too many good things being said to miss out, thanks.


message 25: by Jana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jana Wow, wonderful review as usual. The book has been sitting in my shopping cart for a couple of weeks now, but I tried to be sensible and not by any new books for at least a month or not until I actually have some time to read again. Having read your review I might well fail to stick to this resolution. *drat!*


Stephen Jana wrote: "Wow, wonderful review as usual. The book has been sitting in my shopping cart for a couple of weeks now, but I tried to be sensible and not by any new books for at least a month or not until I actu..."

Thanks, Jana. This is a terrific book and I hope you like it. I understand about the book buying hiatus, unfortunately it never seems to work for me. :)


message 27: by Book Elf (new) - added it

Book Elf It caught my attention when you said something about MMORPG on your review... I am a gamer so I think i'll give this book a go.

P.S.

Some of your terms were okay~ i thought you were a gamer too until I saw your PS note. ^_~


Stephen I hope you like it.


renee g Love your review! Finished the book yesterday, but if I hadn't started it this review and its comments would have put at the top of my "must read" list! :D


Stephen renee wrote: "Love your review! Finished the book yesterday, but if I hadn't started it this review and its comments would have put at the top of my "must read" list! :D"

Thanks, Renee. I'm glad you liked it.


message 31: by Ash (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ash Wil Wheaton has narrated? Interesting. Must try to get hold of the audio version.


Stephen Ash wrote: "Wil Wheaton has narrated? Interesting. Must try to get hold of the audio version."

I've listened to a number of books that he has narrated and he usually does a very good job. I think he is excellent in this one.


Bridget Just saw Will Wheaton in a few episodes of The Guild on Netflix on demand & he was hilarious. He played a terrific narcissistic *ss hat. I may not like the guy's politics(file under thing I wish I'd didn't know) but love him for TNG & his sense of humor. I don't usual do audio books but may have to give this one a try since you thought it added to the story. Thanks for another great review.


Wesley I'm a glimpse an absolute tiny part into this book and I love it.


Stephen Wesley wrote: "I'm a glimpse an absolute tiny part into this book and I love it."

This one is a whole bag of fun.


Sesana The simple truth is that nobody but Wil Wheaton could have narrated this book. I couldn't even begin to count the number of undignified fangirl noises I've made while listening to it. I love it when an audiobook makes me wish that my commute was longer!


Stephen Sesana wrote: "The simple truth is that nobody but Wil Wheaton could have narrated this book. I couldn't even begin to count the number of undignified fangirl noises I've made while listening to it. I love it whe..."

I couldn't agree more, Sesana. Wil Wheaton was the ONLY choice to narrate this book.


An Odd1 "undignified fangirl noises" ? The corners of my mouth already twitch an involuntary smirk.


Monique I thought you were a gamer trying to get in all the game references from all the games. Well done, sir. You passed game-speak school.


Junkie for the Written Word For not being a gamer you did a pretty good job with the lingo.If I hadn't written my review before I read this one I might have just stolen yours wholesale. :)


Jonshann0w Another Awesome review Stephen. I too listened to the Audiobook and agree Wil is perfect for it. In fact I have listened to it twice in less than 12 months. I just love this book. You are right there is something not quite perect about it, but it is sooooo much fun that I could not help but give it 5 stars, and I am mean on the star front.


Kumari Alf . hahaha!


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