Saturday, September 27, 2014

Book Review- READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline


Multi-billionaire James Halliday, creater of OASIS, the largest and most popular MMO ever, is dead, and he's leaving his fortune to one of his players. Whoever solves his riddles, finds the three keys, and unlocks the three gates, will get the Easter egg and win the ultimate prize.

The contest started five years ago, and no one has even managed to find the first key yet. Until Wade Watts, a teenager from Oklahoma living in a massive trailer community, username Parzival, appears on the scoreboard. Suddenly, the world knows that the first ket has been found, and suddenly, the race is on. Wade is competing against other egg hunters, called "gunters", including a few of his own friends. But that's not the worst of it. A massive corporation, IOI, has its own team of high-level, strongly-equipped gunters searching for the Easter egg, and if they find it, that means OASIS will be changed forever, and not in the best way. If Wade's avatar dies, he's going to have to start all over and lose the lead he has on them,

Worse, the IOI knows where he lives in the real world.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.

A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?


Set about 30 years from now, the Great Recession is into its third decade. The state of society, living conditions, energy, food, and most resources are nearing rock bottom, if they're not there already. As a result, people spend most of their time in OASIS, since it's free to access and the worlds are virtually limitless to explore. It's so much better than facing reality that who wouldn't want to live in OASIS if they could?

Don't we all want to escape from reality from time to time? Or all the time? The internet offers a great deal of blessed anonymity, where you can often hide who you are and take on a new persona completely. I guess that's why so many people turn into jerks on the internet. Who can really chase you down and stop you, right?

Ready Player One is exactly that, an escape. Underneath the story, there's a great little study on human psychology, using escapes to deal with what's real.


Ready Player One is chock-full of geek references, particularly regarding 80's culture. It plays a huge part in the progression of the story and in the clues to forward the race to the Easter egg. There are hints of L33T speak, a lot of technical terms in the form of the equipment Wade uses to access OASIS, and plenty of video game references. I don't remember much (if any) of the 80's myself, since I was born in '84 and was just a little kid, I'm a light gamer who strongly disdains L33T, and I'm far from technically-minded. I didn't have any problems following all the information thrown at me in Ready Player One. Everything was explained well without being condescending. I never felt stupid or talked down to for not getting a reference or understanding a certain piece of equipment right away.

The writing is clear and entertaining, with characters that are perfectly real and rounded and fit neatly into their world. This is a very easy-to-read book, even if you're a little less-than-technical like I am. Sure, this book is geared more towards geeks, but I think anyone could enjoy it for the variety of settings, the exchanges with the characters, and most importantly, the race for the Easter egg itself.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with Ready Player One right away. It was very, very hard to put down, and I wanted to scream just about every time life made me do it. I read every chance I got, on coffee breaks at work, before bed, every spare moment I could find. It's a pretty quick read, too, with great pacing.

I've got a little bit of experience playing MMOs (World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 being the ones I've experienced) and that was more than enough background to really appreciate the scope of OASIS. But it's not just limited to RPG-fantasy-type worlds. You can go pretty much ANYWHERE you care to in OASIS, though there is a good deal that's based in sci-fi and fantasy-type realms. 80's TV nerds will get a great laugh out of it, heavy readers, fans of movies and music, Dungeons & Dragons, arcade games, anime, manga... the list goes on and on. This world, while a dismal future, is so much fun that it's a shame it has to end.

I wanted more before I ever finished the book.

Would I Recommend This Book? Highly. This is a blast for gamers and geeks, and even those with only a light familiarity to gaming or geekery will find thrill in the race for the egg. This is a future dystopia that contains some serious deep thought in how and why life turned out how it did. I think there's something for everyone here, whether it's reminiscence for the 80's or excitement at advanced technology we wish we could have. I give Ready Player One a haptic 5 out of 5 stars.

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