Benjamin Newland's Reviews > Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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's review
Jan 28, 2012

bookshelves: 2012-reads
Read from January 28 to February 03, 2012

A blast from the past, set in the future.

Whoa. I know. You’re mind, is like, totally blown.

Here’s most of what you need to know: The author photo on the inside back leaf shows him leaning against a DeLorean. Which he owns. Yeah, that kind of book.

This is a debut work for Ernest Cline, and honestly, if it hadn’t been on the New Fiction shelf at my library (and thus, free) I might not have picked it up. It sounds so gimmicky. Granted, it’s a gimmick that appeals to me, so that helped.

The set-up goes like this: a computer genius spends his teen years in the 1980s. Due to a complete lack of social skills, he spends all his time writing computer games and playing D&D. This earns him a ton of money. He goes on to create a massively multiplayer online roleplaying environment that begins as a game, but as the world falls apart becomes almost everyones favorite alternative to reality. Kids go to school in this virtual environment, all media and entertainment run through it, etc.

The story opens, somewhere in the 2040s, with his death. Having no heirs, he puts up his vast fortune as a prize for the ultimate game. A single clue is given. For five years people try to solve the clue and fail, knowing only that an in-depth knowledge of the 80s, with which the deceased was obsessed, will be necessary.

It’s a good set-up, with lots of candy for someone like me, who shares a certain nostalgic fondness for 1980s games and culture. And yet, that wouldn’t be enough. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be. The story stands alone, and I suspect you could enjoy it without caring about the 1980s, though that’s a hard premise for me to test objectively. I really enjoyed the main characters, and the theme of under-resourced independent freelancers vs. over-wealthy, win-at-all-costs corporate drones fits the story well and is handled more gently than you might expect. Subplots (a romantic line and a reality vs. fantasy line) mesh nicely and fill out the story well.

Highly recommended to anyone in my age-bracket, though I’d particularly like to hear from someone who isn’t and read the book anyways.

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