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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

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  •  
    Cw 03-02-15
    Cw 03-02-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fails to live up to the hype"

    After hearing so many positive reviews of this book I was excited to get the chance to read it. However, I was left disappointed. Nerd culture references failed to redeem the weak plot. Occasionally, we saw strong moments of action and characterization. However, one has to sit through hours of lists of 80s musicians, art, and games. Rather than organic exploration of these genres, the author drones on listing every single item of information on a subject that could be had systematically, making the whole experience extremely forced rather than nostalgic.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Waterford, Ireland 08-08-14
    Joe Waterford, Ireland 08-08-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Had to give up"
    Would you try another book from Ernest Cline and/or Wil Wheaton?

    Do like Wheaton as a narrator but Cline might not be my style


    Any additional comments?

    Chose this book based on it very numerous and great reviews. I am a child of the 80's and it sounded great. I never did get into role playing games and this book reminded me why. I didn't expect it to be so deep into the genre.

    I gave the book a few hours but eventually gave up on it.

    Not my cup of tea but I did like some of the 80's references.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug D. Eigsti Colorado Springs, Colorado United States 02-10-14
    Doug D. Eigsti Colorado Springs, Colorado United States 02-10-14 Member Since 2013

    Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).

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    "Gunter Glieben Glauten Globen"

    This is a very enjoyable audiobook and is a lot of fun. This is the closest thing to time travel that I am ever going to experience. No, this novel does not include the SF concept of time travel. But for someone like me, who lived through the decade of the 1980s, this book brought back so many memories that at times I felt as if I was transported back in time. The novel begins with a first person account of a teenager in the dystopian near future living in the slums and trying to discover a way out. Internet on-line gaming has enjoyed a quantum leap in technology that is not too far from our current experience, and as a result is quite believable. The main character, and most of the inhabitants of the depressed world economy, spend all their waking hours living in this virtual-reality world of the game. He is nurtured, educated and entertained by this virtual reality simulation. The game can be read as a cautionary tale. Real life is so bad that escape into the simulation seems more desirable to most people that they invest all their efforts on this imaginary world while the world around them continues to decline. The protagonist makes sure that we understand that the any view of religion is pure bunk, giving us the now obligatory brief affirmation of materialistic atheism so common in Science Fiction. After this, blessedly brief, diatribe against spirituality and anti-environmentalism is over Ernest Cline gets right to the story. And a great story it is. His virtual reality world will be familiar to anyone who has watched the Holodeck on Star Trek, and in print fiction is is reminiscent of Neal Stephenson’s SNOW CRASH in the way it incorporates a virtual reality simulation into the story. Cline’s VR seems so plausible that one is forced to agree that such a minor leap in technology would almost certainly result in just such an on-line gaming environment as the one in READY PLAYER ONE. He has employed an almost mythical computer gaming programmer that has an obsession with all things of the 1980s. As a result the gamers, who are engaged in a treasure hunt that will make the winner the world’s richest and most powerful man, have to immerse themselves in the 1980s songs, movies and games that the game designer was also obsessed with. In a classic example of transference, the pursuit of wealth and fame has made his obsession their obsession. The carrot on a stick of so much money has altered these treasure hunters into raving Manga fans who listen to the music of 1980s hair bands like Def Leppard and watch old sitcoms in endless hours of marathon watching. It really makes you think about what attracts us to the forms of entertainment we choose to devote our time to. Layered on top of all this nostalgia is a great story; one that is fun and entertaining. With as much research Ernest Cline had to do to write this account so full of 1980s trivia, it is surprising that he did not include the Rock of Ages opening line that I have used to title this review. I kept expecting the line to appear so much that the song was like a soundtrack running in my head all through the novel. Listen to this book and you will understand the connection.

    Will Wheaton (aka. Wesley Crusher for you non Trek fans) is the narrator for this book. His performance makes this even more enjoyable than it would have been in print. He is very good at relating all the various character voices, especially the protagonist. This is a great audiobook, in large part because of Wheaton’s voice. I will listen to this again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 03-27-12
    Nicole MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 03-27-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Light cheesy fun"

    This story is as fluffy and light as a John Hughes movie. Wil Wheaton as the narrator is an absolute riot. Some of the more intellectually compelling aspects of virtual reality impinging on reality take second seat to the non-stop eighties gaming reference orgy which is this book, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Colona, IL, United States 08-20-11
    Robert Colona, IL, United States 08-20-11 Member Since 2015

    Shogun

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best book I've read in years!"

    This book is a mish-mash of different genres. Part treasure hunt, part trip down memory lane (if alive during the 80's, if not a new look into one of the greatest decades in history) this book will grab you and not let go.
    A billionaire game designer with an obsession with the 80's decides to leave his sizable estate to whoever can follow the clues he left in the internet world he created called the Oasis that will lead the hunter to his ultimate prize. The first clue is hidden for 5 years until a young man finally gets the ball rolling...
    I can't recommend this book enough for geeks or anyone that grew up in this amazing time.

    52 of 69 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Riechel 06-08-14
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    "Hits the notes, but leaves you sour."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I would have preferred if the story had done something more with the constant references to 80's culture besides just parroting the memes and expecting us to laugh along. Some level of analysis or critique would have been appreciated over 'HEY, THE SIMPSONS WERE A THING! LAUGH AT THE THING!' This was a decade full of changes in media, some positive, some negative, and I wish the book would have explored that.


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

    Not at all. In fact, it's only because I like Sci-Fi that I powered through the book as long as I did.


    What three words best describe Wil Wheaton’s voice?

    Laid-back, sarcastic,...bland? Not the kindest thing, to say, but his characters all sounded the same.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Ready Player One?

    All of the list scenes, and oh, are there many. Also, the chapter where he describes his new living arrangement in Columbus. And...actually, I would have left the book in ribbons.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish I'd liked this more, but the whole experience felt subpar. It was an 80's movie in an audiobook form, and let's just admit that 80's movies were not most well known for their plots. The tropes come thick in this tale, and even the inversions are obnoxiously obvious. I wanted to care about the characters, and the world, but at the end of the day, the book is as trapped in its virtual reality as the main character, and it only lazily swipes at anything beyond that.

    10 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 03-09-15

    Border Collie Mom

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    "Meh"

    Growing up in the 80s, I figured this would be a fun and geeky way to look back. I also thought having Wil Wheaton narrate would be awesome. While I did enjoy parts of it, the story dragged on endlessly while spewing laundry lists of video games, anime characters, tech gadgets and random pop culture references.

    Basically, the joke wore thin very quickly and the narration was practically monotone. The plot was predictable and the story plodded along slowly while the characters never really developed. Stars for a cool idea, but the actual execution was lackluster.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niels J. Rasmussen 05-17-15 Member Since 2015

    Dr. Nils Rasmussen

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    "Sci/Fi For Teenagers"
    Any additional comments?

    The premise behind this book was actually a great idea, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. A slightly dystopian future in which the majority of the world is addicted to an online role playing game? Not a bad idea.
    Unfortunately, I was very disappointed in the writing. It almost feels like this book's target audience is intended to be young teens despite the fact that it is marketed towards adults.
    The dialogue is horrible. And that is putting it nicely. I cringed every time there was an exchange between two characters.
    I would have PROBABLY loved this novel when I was thirteen but it SHOULD NOT be marketed as adult fiction...

    3.92 / 10.00

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reed Hubbard Jackson, MS 05-14-15
    Reed Hubbard Jackson, MS 05-14-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Redditor's Nerdgasm"
    What would have made Ready Player One better?

    What couldn't have? There is so much wrong with this it defies logic! There's a dystopian future world where wars are waged over dwindling energy supplies, but everyone has plenty of power to run their haptic equipment and internet connections all day long. Food is in scarce supply, but Wade can lock himself in his apartment for months with plenty of pizza and other food delivered daily. There are shallow little diatribes that sound like they were lifted from /r/atheism or some other self-righteous subreddit. The narrator has, in 5 years, been able to master every arcade game and every text adventure and every console game (to the point that he can play a perfect Pac-Man game on a whim), watch every 80s movie and television show (to the point that he can recite every line of WarGames and the Holy Grail verbatim), and learn every bit of obscure trivia and lore about the 1980s and James Halliday, yet neither he nor anyone on the planet can figure out that a clue about "collecting the trophies" is a direct reference to Zork? The cliches that abound are flat and silly, like the "evil multi-national corporation" or the computer prodigy with Asperger's (that magic disease that makes those afflicted by it geniuses). And did society just stop in 2013? For a novel that takes place mid-century, there's no progress aside from the OASIS. No references to newer technology, updated media, different forms of communication or travel. Oh, right...there's a war over energy. It's a combination mcguffin / deus ex machina. Cline uses it to gloss over anything he can't explain, which is a lot.


    What could Ernest Cline have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    How about giving the reader credit for having a modicum of intelligence and awareness? For a book that is ostensibly targeted at nerdy types, Cline doesn't think his audience knows anything about the subject matter. For example, when the video game "Joust" is introduced, Cline slams the brakes on and explains (in excruciatingly boring detail) the game and how it's played and that player one rides and ostrich and that player two rides a stork and blah blah blah. He's not a talented enough writer to work said explanation into the narrative. It almost feels like he pasted the game summary from Wikipedia into his novel. When he does make a meager attempt to work such exposition in as part of the story, it's awkward and annoying, like how the narrator hears a song and reflexively rattles off the artist, label and year it was released. There are a few moments where he gets it right (e.g. when one character throws an object against a "Revenge of the Jedi" poster, Cline refrains from discussing how said posters were a rare misprint), but they're few and far between. Someone commented that references are like jokes - if you have to explain them, then they aren't effective. Cline is like a comedian who tells a joke, then explains the joke (that everyone got) before anyone has a chance to laugh.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Wil Wheaton is a horrible actor and his hammy acting and exaggerated narration detract from an already weak story. When Wheaton reads lines like the oft-repeated, "It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen!" in his breathless sappiness, it grates the ears. There is an insufferable reference to Wheaton in the narrative which comes off as a bit of blatant sycophancy, exacerbated by the fact that Wheaton himself is the narrator and is lapping it up as he reads about himself. I dare anyone to listen to Wheaton read off the top ten scoreboard positions without screaming ("Number seven, I O I six four eight nine three six, one million, four hundred eighty thousand points") Ugh! Wheaton was chosen as a celebrity reader with a nerdy tie to the novel, but he is not talented and is certainly not a good narrator. There are other vocal artists with real talent that would have made this far more palatable.


    What character would you cut from Ready Player One?

    Aech. The character adds nothing to the story, speaks in the most inauthentic voice in the novel (no small feat, seriously) and is used for a small, politically correct twist at the end. The "epic" exchanges that he and Wade have are boring and cringeworthy, especially when read by Wil Wheaton.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a story told by someone who lives on Reddit and has a wishful obsession with the days of his youth, but rather than crafting a wistful bit of nostalgia, he has spit out a harsh mishmash of misplaced references, endless lists, and copious exposition. One can only imagine the horror this was before an editor worked on it! I grew up in the 1980s and I know all the music, movies, shows and games referenced here, but this was not a fun little reminiscence. It was tedious and phony, like a kid who just watched a John Hughes marathon and is listing out the artists whose posters were on Ferris Bueller's wall. This could have been an enjoyable read. The concept of a massive Easter egg hunt is intriguing and working it into a virtual world is a great twist, but this is a orgiastic mess, full of empty references and contrived circumstances, signifying nothing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adnan Chula Vista, CA, United States 05-08-15
    Adnan Chula Vista, CA, United States 05-08-15 Member Since 2009
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    "An entertaining walk down memory lane"

    A popular game creator leaves trail of clues/challenges for gamer to find a hidden treasure in a simulation of his creation where the prize is in billions. The simulation contains hundreds of worlds and untold themes (scifi, fantasy..etc). Simulation allowed avatars to be created ranging from fantasy (mages, fighters) to Japanese anime and everything in between. This kind of flexibility allowed author to create settings and characters which are unique to this book; therefore, it can be said that this book contains a truly innovative settings among scifi books.

    The clues mainly belong to games/pop culture trivia from 80; therefore, all players in this book are expert in 80's games and pop cultures. The affect on reader of this book is that reader will end up getting more information about 80 than you might care about. Still references to D&D, and Pacman would stir up memories for a lot of readers.

    Even with huge settings, book revolves around few characters. These are the elite gamers who are ahead in hunt for the clues and challenges. Of course, there is an evil corporation that hire gamer as employees in order to capture the eventual treasure. This corporation of course is not playing by the spirit of the law and sometime letter of the law. Obviously, our heroes are cool in every possible way in the simulation where they know all the etiquette, tricks and shortcuts to be awesome. Outside of simulation is another matter. Currency of these characters is pretty much the knowledge of 80's pop culture and utilization of spells/magic items of their avatars. Most of our heroes are 99 level avatars either as mage, fighter or some other similar combination. The nerd battles about the 80's knowledge are quiet epic. As a whole I keep getting a sense of movie 'hackers' where the cool was to know your hardware spec and knowledge about computers. At least in movie hackers they did discuss some actual computer science stuff. These guys are generally researching sitcoms. Last gripe is the interaction between character is very much cliché and choppy at times. It could be due to the fact that most characters in this book are high school age.

    Regardless of few shortcoming of this book, premise of this book reign supreme due to its unique nature. I was hooked and stays interested until the end of the book. Book has heart that once these characters finally step out of the simulation, reader feels for them and their situation. In the end book has a good message about virtual life and real life.

    Narration worked well considering that the narrator is portraying characters that are in high school for most part. I read the book at higher speed, and I would suggest at least 1.25. I enjoyed the book, and I recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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