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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 (10318 )
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  •  
    Connor North Carolina 12-07-11
    Connor North Carolina 12-07-11 Member Since 2011

    Enjoy the adventure

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "As Michael Jackson would say - "Thriller""
    If you could sum up Ready Player One in three words, what would they be?

    Captivating from start


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

    Meeting with souless corporate villian


    Which character – as performed by Wil Wheaton – was your favorite?

    WOW


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Enjoyed references to 1980's posters


    Any additional comments?

    Much better than expected

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rod Gaithersburg, MD, United States 11-21-11
    Rod Gaithersburg, MD, United States 11-21-11 Member Since 2004
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    "A creative, sly and entertaining journey"

    A treasure-hunt adventure with delusions of satiric adequacy, "Ready Player One" is clever enough to pull the listener through its 15 hours with only minor bouts of fatigue. There are lists, and this book is as much a love letter to Wikipedia as to the video game culture of the 1980s. But even its predictability can be forgiven when the author's wild swinging fists finally land on an observation truly telling, or a laugh-out-loud-worthy gag.

    But behind the avatars, the five heroes are complex and engaging. The story is told with fondness not only for the games, but for the people who played them.

    Wil Wheaton's narration is effective and his slight touch of "Oh Wow" enthusiasm fits the time and the mood.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rod Morgan DC 11-21-11
    Rod Morgan DC 11-21-11 Member Since 2004

    Unclejack

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A creative, sly and entertaining journey"

    A treasure-hunt adventure with delusions of satiric adequacy, "Ready Player One" is clever enough to pull the listener through its 15 hours with only minor bouts of fatigue. There are lists, and this book is as much a love letter to Wikipedia as to the video game culture of the 1980s. But even its predictability can be forgiven when the author's wild swinging fists finally land on an observation truly telling, or a laugh-out-loud-worthy gag.

    But behind the avatars, the five heroes are complex and engaging. The story is told with fondness not only for the games, but for the people who played them.

    Wil Wheaton's narration is effective and his slight touch of "Oh Wow" enthusiasm fits the time and the mood.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher MARBLEHEAD, MA, United States 10-04-11
    Christopher MARBLEHEAD, MA, United States 10-04-11
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    "Great story, not-so-great read"

    The author creates a very believable dystopia where the real world is so broken that the online world becomes a refuge to vast swaths of the population. One could imagine this future coming to pass without much of a stretch.

    The author doesn't go into much detail about the physical world of this future, but with just a few choice passages, paints a picture that makes it clear why users of the "Oasis" want to spend so much time in their virtual existence. That this hoped-for virtual utopia is in danger of being swallowed whole by for-profit multinational corporate interests makes perfect sense. Where there's money to be made by controlling a limited resource, there will be the most rapacious elements of the free market racing to exploit.

    The protagonists are well-realized and sympathetic. The villains are likewise believable and, though perhaps a bit one-dimensional, nevertheless easily vilified while still imagining how they ended up the way the are. We feel comfortable supporting one camp and hating the other with little possible confusion. In other contexts and with other stories, this might be frustrating, but RPO lives in a world of games and experiencing the story as a game itself seems part of the point.

    The story moves smoothly and is well paced and did not bog down at any point. There was some sense of inevitability in the story - very few surprising twists and turns - but that didn't really reduce its pleasure.

    My only serious critique would be with Mr. Wheaton's reading. He is one of those narrators who seems to be reaching too often to inject some element into the reading that eventually takes on the same note for every mood. He has a wooden ear for dialects and this makes for frustrating moments when I wished he would JUST READ THE WORDS and stop trying to impersonate some nationality or culture.

    If the story were even slightly less compelling, the narration would have made me crazy. Luckily, it was excellent.

    Strongly recommended - great story.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron Troy, MI, United States 08-21-11
    Aaron Troy, MI, United States 08-21-11 Member Since 2002
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    "junk culture"

    Even for a young adult novel, there isn't much here - essentially one very long "Hey, remember that one time when...". Imagine a world where you are are rewarded for your love of trashy popular culture and video games - without so much as a hint of satire or irony. Ready Player One = (((Diamond Age + Charlie and the Chocolate Factory + VH1's I Love the 80's) - humor) - brains). About 70% of the book amounts to little more than detailed descriptions of Pac Man, Blade Runner, Dungeons & Dragons, War Games, Joust, Zork, etc. - no analysis or interpretation, just straight descriptions. The writing is so lazy at times you wonder if the author isn't simply quoting from the back of a video tape or game cartridge. I know the reviews make it look promising, however, unless you are the kind of nerd who wants nothing more than to reminisce about sitting in front of screens, this is a real waste of time.

    23 of 72 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holley st louis, MO, United States 09-05-11
    Holley st louis, MO, United States 09-05-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Don't get it"

    I have never played a video game and am over 60. I really wanted to like this,but could not get past two hours. I have never been less engaged by a book. Must be me.

    2 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MickeyMarie Narnia 12-25-12
    MickeyMarie Narnia 12-25-12 Member Since 2003

    I read so I can write

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    "Amazing Imagination"

    Mr Cline has an amazing imagination and Wil Wheaton has a terrific capture of Cline's character. The story is fun and funny and entertains from start to finish.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 12-29-11
    Tim United States 12-29-11 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are always pending.

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    "Flashback for Generation "Y""

    I bought this title due to glorying reviews from other listeners raving about Ready Player One, and although I enjoy reading other reviews, it kinda falls short to my expectations. If you are a child from the 80's, which I am, you will love the pop culture references to music, movies, tv shows, and especially old school, classic Atari video games, but without those nostalgia memories of Gen Y, the story kinda falls short of what could have been a sci fi novel.

    Please don't misunderstand my review. Overall, I really enjoy the story, but from a reader that already read Snow Crash and other Neal Stephenson's worlds, Ready Player One is more like having something sweet, rather than a full course feast.

    Think Second Life and Lawnmower Man and 80's video games, like Dig Dug.

    If you like these, you will like Ready Player One.

    I just wished that it Ernest Cline would had gone more in depth, instead just coating our palettes with liquid candy without the fizzle.

    Wil Wheaton was in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they should had gotten a better narrator to perform this title. .

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Soemarko Minneapolis, MN, United States 12-27-11
    Soemarko Minneapolis, MN, United States 12-27-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Nothing but panders"
    What disappointed you about Ready Player One?

    The storyline, or lack there of.


    Has Ready Player One turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, still love the genre. Ready Player One was a great idea that's poorly executed.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narrator needs to be in character outside of conversation.


    What character would you cut from Ready Player One?

    All of them. It's not the character, it's how two dimensional they are.


    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew United States 09-27-11
    Matthew United States 09-27-11 Listener Since 2006

    Mome

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining, but mediocre overall."

    Ernest J. Clines' Ready Player One has an intriguing premise, but brings nothing new to the table. Wade Watts, whose online moniker is Parzival, is an average social reject who soon becomes the most popular, most envied, most hated gamer in the world when he cracks the first clue in a colossal "egg hunt" created by the James Halliday, an eccentric game designer and mastermind behind the fully immersive online environment known as the OASIS. The winner of the egg hunt not only becomes the sole proprietor of the OASIS, but also inherits a fortune of over 100 billion dollars; enough power and money to kill for. When he is nearly killed by the IOI Corporation, Wade goes into hiding, carefully unhatching a plan to reach the prize and bring down the corporation and their avatar army, the Sixers.

    The plot has some interesting elements. The idea of online armies and online clans is intriguing. However, the virtual reality concept is one we have seen at least a dozen times before. Also, some of the pop culture references were interesting or addressed in a humorous way, but the majority were just fired out like pop culture vomit. It might have been more interesting if the author had developed more humorous scenarios for unleashing those references. Instead, the references are dropped willy nilly throughout the text and in snippets of dialogue. Later in the book, a War Games reference leaves an opening for some humorous commentary, but Clines drops the ball. This happens mostly in the second half of the book, but the blunders in plotting and dialogue are apparent from the start. When you finally do reach the end of the book, the meaningless references about Rivendale, you are so fed up with the lameness that you listen to the final confrontation simply because you're so close to the end, not because your really want to see what happens.

    What happens, unfortunately, is completely predictable and monumentally lame. The dialogue becomes pedestrian and the descriptions become robotic, not that the dialogue and descriptions were particularly vivid to begin with. Most of the action is movements, characters walking across rooms, controlling their avatars, and making contrived gestures. It is almost as bad as Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden (the Dresden Files cycle) and his incessant, pointless blinking. Does Dresden have tourettes or is Butcher just a really bad writer? No and yes. Clines is a much better author than Butcher, but that's not saying much. My three year old niece has more descriptive power and character development than Jim Butcher.

    The one saving grace of this audiobook is the narration by Will Wheaton. His narration is a bit contrived at times, and he tends to over enunciate, but when he does the Max Headroom stutter or a perfect impression of the computer from War Games, you can't help but smile.

    Overall, there is some entertainment value associate with this audiobook, but it lies mostly in the performance of the narrator. The character development is weak, the descriptions are rudimentary, the dialogue is unnatural/boring, but the plotting is fairly well executed. I would recommend this story for less sophisticated readers. And I don't mean that as an insult. Word lovers and literature buffs will not feel at home inside this narrative. Casual readers, those who read Patterson or Meyer, will probably find this to be a comfortable little tale.

    2 of 9 people found this review helpful
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