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Ready Player One | [Ernest Cline]

Ready Player One

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Did you love the ‘80s? Because Ernest Cline’s sci-fi video game epic sure does. Chock full of references to almost every facet of pop culture from that decade, Ready Player One is an excellent example of a hero’s journey that uses a treasure-hunting narrative to frame the concepts of celebrity, privacy, and control, and posits the question, “What is reality?” Narrator Wil Wheaton does a superb job (as always), and his sci-fi background lends his performance a lot of credibility as computer-nerd-turned-superstar Wade Watts (yes, the familiar alliteration is intentional). —Chris

Publisher's Summary

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 10,000 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 20th 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?

©2011 Ernest Cline (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Ready Player One is the ultimate lottery ticket." (New York Daily News)

“An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline’s imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe.” (Booklist)

"This adrenaline shot of uncut geekdom, a quest through a virtual world, is loaded with enough 1980s nostalgia to please even the most devoted John Hughes fans… sweet, self-deprecating Wade, whose universe is an odd mix of the real past and the virtual present, is the perfect lovable/unlikely hero.” (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.7 (11663 )
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  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 05-27-14
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 05-27-14 Member Since 2007

    notthe1

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I’m sorry I waited so long to read this book."

    Somehow, every time I read a review, I got the idea that only young adult males who love to play video games would enjoy this book. Well, I am here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I think anyone who is within ten years +/- my age (50-ish) would get a HUGE kick out of this book. There are so many references to things that are in our cohort’s DNA that everyone can get the “in” jokes. References to Indiana Jones (okay, I just found out that one of my coworkers WASN’T EVEN BORN YET when the original movie came out—ghahhhhh!!), PacMan, Monty Python . . . there were tons of things nearly anyone who wasn’t living under a rock will get. I am sure there are things I missed, but that hardly mattered because there was also a kick-ass plot to keep me interested.

    For his plot, Cline used a formula that is becoming familiar from the gaming world: Give the protagonist a quest, and set up obstacles. If your protagonist is likable, then the reader will want him to succeed. He is, and we do. I wanted Wade Watts to succeed so badly that I found this book every bit as addicting as the best video games: I could barely put it down. I told everyone around me how much I was enjoying it. I am telling you to read it now!

    [I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton, who is just about the perfect choice, for so many reasons . . . not least of which is being a piece of 80’s trivia himself!!]

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan 05-02-12
    Ryan 05-02-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wil Wheaton for President"

    I am not sure if it was by design or by chance, but Wil Wheaton as a cameo character and being the Narrator is great fun! this book satisfies my inner geek as well as my nostalgic heart!

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 08-15-14
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 08-15-14 Member Since 2002

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

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    "Virtual Reality Teen Fiction that did not Suck!"

    I generally dislike virtual reality SF.

    I am not a teen, so teen fiction usually has to be transcendent to interest me.

    I saw 10,000 ratings with an average of 4.7…and thought “how bad could it be for light summer reading?”

    Ready Player One is virtual reality SF teen fiction, is not transcendent, but it majorly did not suck.

    Now, I must admit, I am a geek. I owned and programmed the TRS-80, Amiga, Commodore 64, and had first-hand experience with much of the tech and geek-pop of this novel. My main annoyance with this book was the failure to give the Heathkit EC-1 it’s due (admittedly not the 80’s). Ok, Ok, I am an uber-geek. If you are an uber-geek and lived through the 80’s, you will likely appreciate this book, even if you don’t love it.

    I did not love this book. It made a few geek-annoying mistakes, and was firmly in the first-kiss-goal-teen-fiction genre. The romantic tension is a first kiss, not, well, you know. This is only great fiction if you have spent WAY too much time playing video games. Yet, it is a pleasant little story with a Geekgasm of references that made it well worth the listen. I might even listen to this one again.

    The narration by STNG’s Will Wheaton was spot on throughout.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Travis Huffman, TX, United States 09-22-11
    Travis Huffman, TX, United States 09-22-11 Member Since 2006

    Interested in Social Science, Science Fiction, Fantasy- particularly when parallels can be made between the story and the psyche. Also, I buy 2 audible books for every 1 I will listen to!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "ADD TO CART, POWER UP +10000"

    I don't even know how else to put this. THIS BOOK IS EPICALLY AWESOME. If you grew up geek in the coming-of-age of computers and video games... This is a no-brainer. I haven't been this satisfied with spending a credit since I downloaded Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in 2008. But back to this book, nostalgia cross-referencing every aspect of growing up between probably 1975-1995. If you want to know if you will enjoy this book ask yourself this: Are you a geek? One who enjoys sci-fi and video games? Like computers? 3 yes answers should have you buying this. Here's a short list of things the book references (from memory):

    TRS-80 Tandy Computers/Color Computer 3
    Amigas, Commodore 64s
    Atari 2600 (Extensively)
    Games like Pitfall, Kaboom, Dungeons of Daggorath
    RPGs/Dungeon Crawls/FPSs
    Ghostbusters
    Knight Rider
    WWF Wrestlers
    Back To The Future
    Star Trek
    Star Wars
    Indiana Jones
    Voltron and Transformers
    Hacker/Computer movies
    Blade Runner
    Family Ties
    General Hacking and Computer culture
    Text messaging, L33t Speak
    Gamer culture
    Dungeons and Dragons
    Boom Boxes, Mohawks, Acid Washed Jeans
    Rush, Def Leppard, Pat Benatar, Cindy Lauper (and a slew of others)
    School House Rock
    Japanese/American cross culture (Manga, Cartoons, Games)

    The "setting" for the book takes place in a computer simulation that reminded me of the visuals from the Scott Pilgrim Movie, particularly where things look like the inside of a video game, music notes and light coming from instruments, VS subtitles underneath P2P Fights, Things pixelate into "bonus items" when they get destroyed.

    Honestly... there's so much that it's hard to remember. Quit reading this and just go download it.

    131 of 141 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lesley Seattle, WA, United States 06-14-14
    Lesley Seattle, WA, United States 06-14-14 Member Since 2005

    From Austen to zombies!

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    "Shall we play a game?"

    This book has been coming up in my recommendations for a long time, but I always skipped it. When I listened to the Audible sample it sounded as if the book's world-building was terrible or even non-existent (which is because it's not from the beginning of the book!) Further, descriptions of the book's 80s nostalgia were kind of a turn-off: as a member of Gen X, I'm not always very nostalgic about the 80s.

    But I had a credit, and I like Wil Wheaton--so when I read the Audible Essentials review of Ready Player One, I thought I might as well try it. Boy. Was I ever wrong about what this book would be like!

    In 2045, Wade Watts is a child of the new era, a teenage orphan living with his aunt and a bunch of other people in a derelict trailer. The planet is a dump and most people are jerks, or worse. The only place he can find peace is OASIS, a Second Life-style digital game environment where he attends school, goes on adventures, and hides from the drag that reality has become (and where Wil Wheaton and Cory Doctorow are elected officials!) The game's creator has been dead for several years, leaving behind an in-game easter egg hunt: the winner gets his entire multi-billion dollar fortune! But nobody's had any luck. Until now.

    This book wasn't much like anything else I've read recently: it's part mystery, part quest-legend story, part love story, part fairytale, and part dystopian-future novel. I was afraid it might be depressing, but it wasn't--not at all. Events moved quickly, and the humorous tone kept me laughing out loud. The nostalgia itself turned out to directed mostly toward geeky stuff that I remember fondly, like arcade games and old computers. Puzzling out what might happen next was an additional bonus--I was so proud of myself when I got a crucial reference before Wade did!

    Wil Wheaton does a great job on narration. The only thing I was a little disappointed with--it caused me to knock off a star--was the character development. Wade, and especially his friends, come off as somewhat two-dimensional. Perhaps that's because the events of the book are such a wild ride. I could not stop listening! I ran the batteries out in my headphones and was forced to dig through a junk drawer to find an analog pair so I could keep going. That's how determined I was to find out what would happen next.

    Overall I recommend this book if you are looking for an exciting and fun science fiction adventure that's also close to home. If you recognize the headline for this review, you're definitely going to like Ready Player One.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Phoenix, AZ, United States 07-06-12
    Amanda Phoenix, AZ, United States 07-06-12 Member Since 2010

    I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Late to the Party, But SO Glad to Arrive"

    Ever since this book has come out, I’ve stubbornly held on to the belief that the novel was not for me. “That’s the video game book, right?” I asked people over and over again, whenever the story was mentioned. No matter how many times people tried to tell me that it was far more than a book about video games, I somehow didn’t hear them. I’d made my decision.

    What a huge mistake.

    If any of your formative years took place in the 80’s, this book is for you. It’s like a grand, wonderful party that greets you warmly at the door as you arrive, and puts you immediately at ease. The story will make you laugh, and remember, and sit on the edge of your seat as you follow Wade and his friends on their great quest.

    The story also provides us with a cautionary tale for both individuals and society; an allegory highlighting the damage that can be done to people and worlds when we opt for spending too much time in our virtual worlds, and not enough working on our real life and world.

    The narration by Wil Wheaton (who has his own cameo appearance in the story) was a fantastic fit for the story; I doubt anyone else could have done half the job he did with this book.

    This story was the perfect love letter to the 80’s; the music, the movies, the culture, and yes, the video games. I loved it all. So even if one of those aspects wasn’t your strong suit, have no worries; just pick up your joystick, download this book… and ready player one.

    78 of 86 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn 08-19-11
    Kathryn 08-19-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Grabs you from the start and doesn't disappoint."

    A mere four days after it came out, I finished listening to Ready Player One this morning, an incredible debut novel by Ernie Cline (of Nern Porn Auteur and other comedy gems) and performed by Wil Wheaton. Originally, I picked this audiobook up based on the mere fact that Wil read it. (I've done this before, with Fuzzy Nation, to great success so I'm at a point where if he is the voice actor I will try any book he reads. I'll be starting Andriod Dreams next.)

    However, two pages into this book and I was utterly hooked. I had to force myself NOT to listen to it at night because I wanted to have something fun to look forward to during the workday.

    RPO is the story of an 18 year old boy as he solves the world's greatest puzzle and becomes a man in the process. Wade lives in a not-so-distant future where a game called "The Oasis" allows people to live virtual lives in as many worlds and settings as you can imagine. The children even have the option to go to school virtually, solving many of the overcrowding problems plaguing public schooling.

    The inventor of The Oasis is a reclusive genius that dies and then leaves control of his company as well as his fortune to the first person who can find an Easter Egg in his game. And thus the race begins to solve multiple puzzles in an attempt to find keys and open gates.

    This book is an 80s fan's dream. I grew up in the 80s, even though I am a bit young for some of the references. Overall, I got most of the references, except for the anime characters. The books and movies were a blast from the past, and several of the game situations make me wish something similar exists in today's society.

    The information on this book indicates that the day after the rights were bought up in a fierce bidding war, the movie rights were purchased with Ernie Cline himself as a screenwriter. I can't tell you how excited I am for this as well.

    Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today.

    92 of 103 people found this review helpful
  •  
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 05-29-12
    colleen ANCHORAGE, AK, United States 05-29-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Where is book 2?"

    I immediately looked for more from this author after I listened to ready player one. This story is full of detail and imagination. You'll like it even if you aren't a gamer. Very clever plot and excellent narration by Wheaton.

    70 of 80 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Cincinnati, OH, United States 09-09-11
    Karen Cincinnati, OH, United States 09-09-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best books/audiobooks I've ever heard."
    Where does Ready Player One rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    I've listened to a LOT of audiobooks in the last few years, and there are some series I'm totally loyal to. This beats all. The story, the humor, and Wil Wheaton's performance are all incredible. I laughed out loud multiple times during a marathon practice run! No one laughs during that misery!

    I enjoyed the geek "in" jokes, and I appreciated the 80s nostalgia, even though I'm too young to get a fair number of the references. I enjoyed this so much that I went out and got the hard cover so I could loan it to friends. Buy this book. I'm serious. Do it now!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Ready Player One?

    Too many. The entire hunt for the egg was well done and the conclusion was excellent--very satisfying. There is a moment where Wil Wheaton as narrator refers to himself in text :). I think they picked exactly the right narrator for this novel.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the deus ex machina moment where Og appears to save the day. Also loved the Oingo Boingo reference in the beginning.


    Was there a moment in the book that particular moved you?

    The discussion between Samantha and Wade at the end. It was sweet and sincere.


    Any additional comments?

    Seriously, this is one of the best books I've read/heard in a VERY long time.

    35 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 05-06-14
    Mark 05-06-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "There's nothing brilliant about dropping names"

    The first bit of this book is solid likely-near-future dystopian sci-fi, and this aspect of the book is thankfully revisited intermittently throughout. Most of this book, however, is the author pretty much reading aloud from a encyclopedia entry on 80's pop culture. If you are between 35 and 45 years old, and you are (for some reason) endlessly entertained by being reminded of long-forgotten consumer goods and video games, this book is for you. If you want something transient and/or compelling, look elsewhere.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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