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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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!!]

576 of 660 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Travis
  • Huffman, TX, United States
  • 09-22-11

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.

521 of 622 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amanda
  • Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 07-06-12

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.

221 of 270 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

GOING OUTSIDE IS HIGHLY OVER RATED

MY BULLET BILL THIS MONTH WAS GOING TO BE HUGE
I am going to join the 30,000+ who have given this a 4.7 rating and say this is a wonderful book. I loved it from the get go and their was not a single dull moment. I am a little old for the generation that will love this the best. In the 80's I was in my 20's, married and had my two kids. I played some of the early systems and can even remember text games, where all you had was text and you could only give simple commands. I remember the first time I saw a pong machine (not mentioned in the book). I remember Space Invaders at the bowling alley.

THE CROWD WENT WILD
I might buck the crowd just a little and say, if you did or do not play video games, then you will not enjoy this. The bigger the nerd you were or are, than the more you will enjoy this. This is mostly for the hard core nerds and not the pop scene. For instance even though MTV is mentioned and even though Michael Jackson made MTV popular, his name is never mentioned. I had heard of most of the games, but not all and I had played a few. Games such as Master of Orion and Romance of The Three Kingdoms (my favorite games) are totally ignored. So, there is a certain amount of bias in the book.

THE GAME WITHIN THE GAME
The plot is a game, which is why I am sure none gamers will not like it. I loved the game within the game and thought it was very well done. I normally do not like shoot-em ups in any book, but this is so well done, that it holds your attention. There is a romance that is well done, there is suspense, some surprises, and even without the 80's references it would be a great book.

THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OG
Yea, there is also some serendipity help that takes place, especially toward the end and the main character just seems too knowledgeable at times. Watching nerdy movies is one thing, but memorizing the entire dialogue??? My wife and I did see War Games at the theater and War Games plays big in the book.

Just before this book I listened to a Scalzi book, not narrated by Wil Wheaton and I followed that up with this book, read by Wil Wheaton, but not written by Scalzi, how weird is that? Anyways Wheaton is one of my favorites and was the perfect pick for this book. He Crushered it.

321 of 397 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Onalee
  • BROOKSVILLE, FL, United States
  • 08-20-18

Slow start, worth the wait. Imaginative adventure.

I'm not a gamer. The only games I've ever played were in the late 70s -- PacMan, Space Invaders, Pong, Tetris. I haven't touched a video game since about 1983. I've never played D&D or anything like it. I'm also not a fan of anime. Never watched a single one. I was born in 1962 so a lot of the references to shows and movies in here are a bit after 'my time', but not all.

In short, I didn't recognize MOST of the references in here. I still very much enjoyed the story and appreciated the imaginative writing.

To me, the story started off VERY SLOWLY with too much narration and not enough action. The fact that I didn't 'get' a lot of the references in there might have contributed to how slow and boring it felt. I was on the verge of giving up and returning the book when stuff started happening, and, for the most part, from then on, stuff kept happening and it was great.

Action, adventure, love, friendships, mystery -- it was all there set within a geeky world of games and movies.

Wil Wheaton did a decent job of narration, not the best, not the worst I've heard. Could use some work on female voices, but overall, a good job.

So, final thought? Yeah, worth the listen! I think people slightly younger than me or those who were into more games would enjoy it even more, but even if you don't know every single reference, it's enjoyable and can be followed easily.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

mediocre fanservice

what with all of the hype around this book and people saying the book was better than the awful movie, I decided to try to listen to it on my commute. Pretty quickly I found that the only appeal of this book is the nostalgia factor. I'm going to ignore the nostalgia factor as that is going to be the most dependent on whether the reader/listener enjoyed the 80s.
Will Wheaton is a professional nerd, not a voice actor, and it shows. He doesn't do a bad job but it could be a lot better. There are several points in the book where I couldn't tell if the main character was saying things out loud or just thinking them. Furthermore, the change in voices for different characters was pretty much non-existent. Which would be fine if he committed to it, but every once in a while he would try a voice making the listener think it was a new character or something.
The plot itself has a lot of potential but it gets sidetracked too often. The book starts off pretty slow which is understandable, but doesn't really make any true progress until the final quarter. The middle of the book spends what seemed like ages on parzival's obsession with what seems to be the only female Gunter in the book. Past her knowledge of the quest for the egg, she acts like a child because *gasp* she has a birthmark on her face. the book doesn't start to become interesting until after she breaks up with the main character at which point it starts to make actual progress again though it does have strong overtones of 'look at me, I'm pathetic because the only girl I ever liked has left me and is doing better than me' which kind of cancel out any sort of happiness I could gather from the dating part of the book ending. At the end of the book everything just sort of works out in a way that seems like the author wanted things to turn out in a certain way, but was tired of having any semblance of suspense or true danger and just made the plot make it work.
overall would not recommend the book, I regret spending the hours listening to it

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • colleen
  • ANCHORAGE, AK, United States
  • 05-29-12

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.

167 of 217 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 11-23-14

Great Combination of Three Genres

This is the best audiobook I have listened to this year (and that is an embarrassingly large number of audiobooks). It fits into the science fiction category as it takes place in a distopian near future in which vast numbers of people retreat into an online multiplayer game that takes on the status of an alternate reality that is more important to many people than real life. This is also a coming of age novel focusing on a group of young people who learn about themselves and about each other while going through a harrowing online adventure. The third category is the "popular culture" genre as the heroes have to navigate an online game based on 1980s pop culture, especially popular "geek" culture. The combination is very original. This novel is a great nostalgia trip for anyone born between about 1950 and 1975 and is just a great adventure for anyone younger than that. And the performance is excellent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

"Naming 80's things" the book

What did you like best about Ready Player One? What did you like least?

This started out a lot of fun but as it went on I liked it less and less. It had a cool semi-dystopian future set-up with this really cool facebook-meets-video games-meets-virtual reality immersive secondary world which never really explored more than being a big video game. That's fine, that's the point of the book, but if something like this were ever real, it'd be so much more.

The thing that got to me was eventually the book just became a list of things from the 80's and talking about how they were "THE coolest" robot/game/character/movie.

There's no twist. Every plot development is the discovery of another obscure 80's relic that the listener has to be let in on. We dont get to discover much of anything for ourselves.

The bad guy is 2 dimensional. (Also a thinly veiled metaphor for Comcast) The dialogue gets old quick. And the whole thing is just a little too neckbeardy.

I enjoyed most of it. I couldve used a better third act, some real human dialogue and plot twist or two

Would you recommend Ready Player One to your friends? Why or why not?

Only if you actively call yourself a "gamer" or really miss the 80's

218 of 297 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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The Big Bang Theory of books

This isn’t a geek book. This is a book about geeks for people who aren’t geeks. The references say the right words, but there isn’t understanding behind them. It’s as if someone researched about these things and hadn’t ever actually experienced them. Consistently, key points about each game or reference are left out - for instance (minor spoiler) the character at one point talks about a strategy for winning a game, but doesn’t actually ever say what that strategy is. It’s entirely “trust me, it was cool.” That’s almost the entire book. The character refers to various swords as “+5 vorpal” without ever explaining in the slightest what that means in the mechanics of the game. Instances of this are in almost every scene, from the “zero-gravity dance floor” that doesn’t make any sense (how does one dance with no surface to push off of?) to the character reaching “99th level” in a matter of weeks and still somehow being way more powerful than the bad guys who have had far more time and resources. Geeks want to understand mechanics. Geeks want to dive into rule books. The characters in the book like to dive into rulebooks, but the book gives us almost no rules whatsoever. It’s the difference between speaking Chinese and saying random Chinese words - to a non-speaker, these are indistinguishable, but to someone who speaks Chinese one is gibberish. This book is written for non-speakers.

125 of 172 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Bennett
  • 10-02-18

High concept, low on story

The whole thing could be about half as long if the author didn't just spout cultural references without any plot

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  • Kimberly
  • 03-27-18

Totally awesome

This is the 7th time I’ve listened to the book, brilliant performance by Wil Wheaton.

Looking forward to Spielberg’s interpretation tomorrow, though not expecting it to be the same as this book, but still expect an awesome movie.