Jeffrey Keeten's Reviews > Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
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Jun 15, 12

Read from June 08 to 14, 2012

"I'm not crazy about reality, but it's still the only place to get a decent meal." Groucho Marx

When I was going to middle school, which used to be the high school when my father attended school, this 1930s WPA project was full of asbestos and toxic mold from decades of water leaks. I probably shouldn't think about it too much or I might croak before I can finish this review. I was a rural kid and had to wait for the bus to come pick me up after school to haul me the five miles south of town to the family farm. The bus was always late which was a real pain in the ass for a scrawny kid like me who was trying to avoid the hulking, megalithic Hoover clan. They were massive, with beach ball bellies and Neanderthal brows. They had freckle specked Popeye arms and flaming red hair. They were full grown men in middle school with mustaches and sideburns. They liked to grab underweight kids by the neck and dangle them off the ground for entertainment.

Then like a mirage a pizza place opened across the highway. The pizza was passable, but I wasn't there for the pizza. When I walked in those doors I claimed sanctuary. It didn't take long for the owner to 86 the Hoover boys because he didn't want me to be interrupted putting quarter after quarter into this colorful black box called DEFENDER.

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If I were to get the high score the pizza guy would give me a slice. I soon learned that I could barter that slice for safe conduct onto my bus. It was worth the investment to buy a piece and watch the Hoover boysmen tear the slice into pieces nearly coming to blows in the process, although I probably could have brought them roadkill with similar results.

The place also had Asteroids which I loved as well, but my first love was Defender. I would only play Asteroids if someone was already playing Defender. Even while immersed in blowing up interstellar asteroids I would catch myself looking longingly over at Defender.

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Yes it was a whirlwind romance born out of a need for survival. When I moved to high school I would stop in once in a while, but I'd grown as a person and Defender...well...had stayed the same. Our romance had gotten away from us somehow and it was time for both of us to move on to other people like Molly Ringwald.

MollyRingwald

Yes, I know it is so cliche to say it, but I like a large majority of boys and a good percentage of girls had a crush on Molly. She really didn't do me a good service. The girls I dated in high school were that much more a pain in the ass because Molly Ringwald was their role model. Is that the time period when High Maintenance came into common usage? I wore a Members Only jacket and wished like hell my parents had cable so I could watch MTV. It was always a struggle trying to be cool in Kansas in the 1980s.

Wade Watts, our hero, is an orphan. He was taken in by an aunt because she wanted the extra food vouchers. She doesn't share the food,a bit of a Dickens situation going on, which forces Wade to scramble for his own food supply. They live in these lovely stacked trailers on the outskirts of Oklahoma City.

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"We lived in the Portland Avenue Stacks, a sprawling hive of discolored tin shoeboxes rusting on the shores of I-40, just west of Oklahoma City's decaying skyscraper core. It was a collection of over five hundred individual stacks, all connected to each other by a makeshift network of recycled pipes, girders, support beams, and footbridges. The spires of a dozen ancient construction cranes (used to do the actual stacking) were positioned around the stacks' ever expanding outer perimeter.

Living in this world of 2044 would have been horrible except for a man named James Halliday who had invented OASIS a sprawling virtual utopia. You could live in the nastiest slag heap on the planet, but in OASIS, where you spent most of your time, you could build a paradise. When Halliday died he left a series of clues that created a world sensation. The first person to figure out the clues wins the Halliday fortune...$140 billion. Halliday was a fan of 1980s pop culture and built his clues around his love of that era. Those involved in the search have to become experts on everything 1980s. The dialogue of every John Hughes film, the man who brought us Molly Ringwald, must be memorized. They have to learn how to play vintage video games such as Defender, Asteroids, Joust and Pac-Man. They have to watch all the television episodes from that era searching for clues to the puzzle. They have to know Devo lyrics and the words to every other 1980s pop song. Needless to say, most of the population give up, and go back to other pursuits as the years pass without any breakthroughs.

Wade is determined and with the help of his best friend Aech pronounced H they continue to sift through archival material looking for that clue that will lead them to the next clue. When Wade finds the first clue and opens the first gate of the elaborate treasure hunt he becomes a world sensation, and draws the attention of the Sixers, the evil corporation intent on dominating OASIS. If they find the clues before Wade and his friends, and unlock the Halliday fortune, OASIS would be under their control.

During his quest, his online name is Parzival, Wade meets a girl.

"It was Art3mis.
She wore a suit of scaled gunmetal-blue armor that looked more sci-fi than fantasy. Twin blaster pistols were slung low on her hips in quick draw holsters, and there was a long, curved elvish sword in a scabbard across her back. She wore fingerless Road Warrior-style racing gloves and a pair of classic Ray-Ban shades. Overall, she seemed to be going for a sort of mid-'80s postapocalyptic cyberpunk girl-next-door look. And it was working for me, in a big way. In a word:hot.


I'm such a sucker for boy meets girl, boy wins girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. Cline mines this tried and true formula to perfection.

The reader is shotgunned with 1980s pop culture which I know has bothered some reviewers. I thought it was great. I've been digging up '80s music all week on my iPod as a result. I wasn't ever a gamer. My brief fling with Defender has been the only time I've spent any significant amount of time playing video games. To enjoy this book I don't think you have to be a connoisseur of vintage video games or have spent hours playing D&D, but I think those people with that background will enjoy it more because the references will ignite; hopefully, fond memories for them. If you pine for the 1980s you should definitely read this book. The book was just damn fun to read and the plot keeps the pages turning.

This book has just went viral in the collecting world. First edition, first printing are bringing $200. I am hoping that is an inflated price and that more copies will surface and level the price out at $50 to $75(because I don't have a copy in my personal library). I read somewhere that the print run was 15,000 which is reasonably small. If a lot of the first printing was sucked up by libraries it could stay a much sought after collectible for years to come. If you have a first edition, first printing tuck it away somewhere safe. It could turn out to be a really good return on your initial investment.
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Comments (showing 1-36 of 36) (36 new)

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Gary So, what do you think about this book, thus far???


Jeffrey Keeten Gary wrote: "So, what do you think about this book, thus far???"

Interesting so far. I am curious to see if Cline can pull this off.


Gary keep me posted,buddy. i am contemplating this one....


message 4: by knig (new)

knig This is why I love GR: where else would I have picked up on a book like this? When you say video games, do you mean, gasp, Atari?


message 5: by Jeffrey (last edited Jun 14, 2012 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeffrey Keeten Knig-o-lass wrote: "This is why I love GR: where else would I have picked up on a book like this? When you say video games, do you mean, gasp, Atari?"

Oh yeah Atari is referenced several times. The Commodore 64 computers. Apple II etc. Cline has a great grasp of the era and not just video game culture, the whole pop culture of the 1980s.


message 6: by Marvin (last edited Jun 14, 2012 08:39AM) (new)

Marvin I am curious where you got the Groucho Marx quote. It is so like the Woody Allen line from Without Feathers...
I hate reality but it is still the best place to get a good steak.

I wonder if Woody stole it from Groucho?


Jeffrey Keeten Marvin wrote: "I am curious where you got the Groucho Marx quote. It is so like the Woody Allen line from Without Feathers...
I hate reality but it is still the best place to get a good steak.
I wonder if Woody ..."


I took it off of one of the chapter headings of Ready Player One. I would bet that Allen stole it.


☯Bettie☯ Atari Goodness makes a Cameo


message 9: by Jenn(ifer) (new)

Jenn(ifer) this book sounds awesome, like, totally tubular!


Jeffrey Keeten (Jenn)ifer wrote: "this book sounds awesome, like, totally tubular!"

It was the bomb as we used to say. You will need to yell cowabunga! before starting to read this book to be totally authentic. Wait... I know surfers used it way before the 1980s, but I think it really came into prominent use with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so I might be giving you bad advice there.


message 11: by Randy (new)

Randy Dude, I don't know which void you just crawled out of but, it is truly one parallel to mine in 1980s Arkansas. Deja vu all over again, man. Defender was the greatest game of the last millennium...?Well, besides...

*GALAGA*


Jeffrey Keeten Randy wrote: "Dude, I don't know which void you just crawled out of but, it is truly one parallel to mine in 1980s Arkansas. Deja vu all over again, man. Defender was the greatest game of the last millennium...?..."

Galaga was awesome, but Defender was my first love.


message 13: by B0nnie (new) - added it

B0nnie Ready Player One? yes. no. later, I'll get to it later. wow, I thought living in a trailer park could be unpleasant. I never dreamed of stacking. A few years ago a tornado came through my city, and yup, 25 people died. Most of them in a trailer park. This song is going through my head now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO1OV5...


message 14: by Megha (last edited Jun 15, 2012 12:12AM) (new)

Megha I have come across this book title so may times (including through the flashy orange banner goodreads put on out homepages), but I never made the connection between 'Ready Player One' and videogames. Duh!


René I must say you have me fired to delve into this book! It has all the trappings of a contrived excuse to plunge down memory lane. How to explain it? If you think being cool in 1980's Kansas was hard, let me tell you 1980's Quebec was no stroll in the park either :) But seing that picture of Molly, the Defender and Asteroids screenshots, I can't help but pack my bags, literaryly speaking, and bide my time to go to that place in the past that we call the 80s, that seemed so full of promise (of nuclear war, notably) at the time. Thank you so much, in advance, for bringing this book to my attention.


Jeffrey Keeten B0nnie wrote: "Ready Player One? yes. no. later, I'll get to it later. wow, I thought living in a trailer park could be unpleasant. I never dreamed of stacking. A few years ago a tornado came through my city, and..."

We've always been cloud watchers out here in the Midwest, but since Greensburg (40 miles East of us) we've been a lot more paranoid about boiling cloud structures. Tornadoes love trailers. They roll. They fly. They explode spectacularly.

After Lana's disastrous S&L debut,I'd kind of forgotten about her. Great song...thanks for sharing.


Jeffrey Keeten Megha wrote: "I have come across this book title so may times (including through the flashy orange banner goodreads put on out homepages), but I never made the connection between 'Ready Player One' and videogame..."

I ignored this book as well, but the reviews on goodreads were intriguing me and then as you mentioned the orange flashing banner showed up. When I checked collectible prices I was really taken aback and that gave me the final push to read the book. I'm glad I did. It was a lot of fun.


Jeffrey Keeten René wrote: "I must say you have me fired to delve into this book! It has all the trappings of a contrived excuse to plunge down memory lane. How to explain it? If you think being cool in 1980's Kansas was hard..."

Thanks René! The aspect I love the most of this site is getting excited about books and getting other people excited about books. We all love books, but I think we love them more because of goodreads.

I moved to Phoenix as soon as I graduated from high school. Everything I owned was so uncool except for my blue jeans. They were faded sometimes badly, ripped and patched all from working on the farm. Everyone kept asking me where did you get those jeans?

Sears.


message 19: by Arthur (last edited Jun 15, 2012 09:47AM) (new)

Arthur Graham The 80s came and went before I was even old enough to have much of a clue about anything, but I do still feel a certain nostalgia for some of the games (watch how much money I'll pump into an old Gauntlet machine!) and movies (though "Class of Nuke 'Em High" always resonated with me more than "The Breakfast Club").

Like any decade, the 80s certainly had its share of crap music and fashion too, but lots of good stuff as well, I suppose... In any case, I'd be interested to see how it all comes together in this book, only the bandwagon's looking awfully full at the moment! ;-)

Maybe I'll have mellowed to that point when the 80s return yet again, as they're sure to do once more, 20-30 years down the road.


message 20: by B0nnie (new) - added it

B0nnie Jeffrey wrote: "We've always been cloud watchers out here in the Midwest, but since Greensburg (40 miles East of us) we've been a lot more paranoid about boiling cloud structures. Tornadoes love trailers. They roll. They fly. They explode spectacularly.

After Lana's disastrous S&L debut,I'd kind of forgotten about her. Great song...thanks for sharing..."


yes, we're cloud watchers here now too. I don't know why more people weren't killed in Greensburg. You Midwesterners know what to do I guess. Oh, Lana's debut wasn't disastrous in itself - just the media attack. She was a bit nervous, but so what? her amazing voice was fine.


Jeffrey Keeten B0nnie wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "We've always been cloud watchers out here in the Midwest, but since Greensburg (40 miles East of us) we've been a lot more paranoid about boiling cloud structures. Tornadoes love tr..."

I didn't see her television debut just heard about it through the media. Nervous is fine. Heck my knees would have been knocking so hard they'd have thought someone in the band was pounding coconuts as a back beat.


Jeffrey Keeten Arthur wrote: "The 80s came and went before I was even old enough to have much of a clue about anything, but I do still feel a certain nostalgia for some of the games (watch how much money I'll pump into an old G..."

1980s was the first decade of disposable income, well I might be wrong about that, but it sure seemed like everyone was spending more money. There has certainly been a lot of building nostalgia for the 1980s. I graduated high school in 1985 so I am without any doubt a product of the 1980s. I'm more nostalgic for eras I never lived in, but I do have some fond memories of every decade I've lived in.


message 23: by Randy (new)

Randy ELO, REO Speedwagon, Styx, .38 Special...need I say that I, just this last weekend, attended my 30th High School Class Reunion! The Best of Times was our class song...we had an awesome reunion; however, it could have been better if we would have had a Galaga and Defender Arcade machine or two...?


Jeffrey Keeten Randy wrote: "ELO, REO Speedwagon, Styx, .38 Special...need I say that I, just this last weekend, attended my 30th High School Class Reunion! The Best of Times was our class song...we had an awesome reunion; how..."

Our song was Eye of the Tiger. I don't go back to high school class reunion. I'm afraid the Hoover boys will finally get me cornered without a slice of pizza to get me free.


René You'll probably find the Hoover boys have aged less gracefully than you have.


Jeffrey Keeten René wrote: "You'll probably find the Hoover boys have aged less gracefully than you have."

Haha that would be my hope. Not that that would put them in any better humor regarding me. Thanks René that is a really nice thought.


message 27: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark sounds like a fascinating read but i have to say I found the photo of the carefully 'piled up' caravans quite lovely. I have no doubt, as a lad, I would dearly have desired to live in one, especially the top one. Actually, probably even now I would quite like to holiday in the top one for a week. Its like my childish urge to always want the top bunk in any hostel I have to stay in whilst walking


Jeffrey Keeten Mark wrote: "sounds like a fascinating read but i have to say I found the photo of the carefully 'piled up' caravans quite lovely. I have no doubt, as a lad, I would dearly have desired to live in one, especial..."

That picture is like a redneck version of Southfork. In the book they were stacked more uniformly to use the most space, but I really liked that picture so I had to add it to the review. I do understand the top bunk concept; I'm with you on that.


message 29: by Mike (new)

Mike *ahem* You think the 80s were tough. Think about Quiana Knit Shirts (WIDE LAPELS) which passed as a faux silk and Leisure Suits. I was so cool. Not.

As for "High Maintenance"--"When Harry Met Sally"--1989

Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.
Sally Albright: I don't see that.
Harry Burns: You don't see that? Waiter, I'll begin with a house salad, but I don't want the regular dressing. I'll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. "On the side" is a very big thing for you.
Sally Albright: Well, I just want it the way I want it.
Harry Burns: I know; high maintenance.

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Everitt I really wanted to like this book. I did. I'm exactly the target demographic for the book: young, male, nerd, gamer, (and fellow Austinite).

But I just did not care for Cline's execution.

I've not written my own review, and probably won't, as I hate to disparage a book that had so much potential and so many other people loved. So I'll stop there.

Though if anyone likes the book you should check out Cline's website it has some awesome stories from his book tour. And check him out on the Nerdist YouTube channel as he drops by the Ain't it Cool show with Harry Knowles. Seems like a cool guy.

But, I'm curious as to how you know first editions (what about signed?) are going for that much?


Melki Re. message 29...I'll have what she's having.


Jeffrey Keeten Everitt wrote: "I really wanted to like this book. I did. I'm exactly the target demographic for the book: young, male, nerd, gamer, (and fellow Austinite).

But I just did not care for Cline's execution.

I've..."


Because I am a book swami.

I spent 12 years in the book business and have been a lifetime collector. If you check going values on abebooks.com that will give you some idea. I also look at what people are selling them for on ebay and a host of other sites. Signed is going for about $600 to $800 which is, in my mind, well overpriced for a book this new and with an author very much alive.

I just checked abebooks, since the time I posted this review, all unsigned first edition listed books have sold. It is a bull market for Cline right now.


message 33: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary I have to say....I just love the movie WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. so funny!


René There's a Q&A with the author on Everyday eBook today: http://www.everydayebook.com/2012/06/...


message 35: by S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

S. picked this book up because of your memorable writeup, and I was not disappointed... thanks!


Jeffrey Keeten S. wrote: "picked this book up because of your memorable writeup, and I was not disappointed... thanks!"

You are most welcome!


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