on 7 February 2013
Reading the reviews and the book blurb, most of you are going to think -it doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy. I'm not a gamer, and I didn't grow up in the 80's.
Ignore all that and immerse yourself in this excellent novel set in 2044 where everyone spends most of there time in a virtual world called OASIS, Our hero Wade Watts is looking for the clues to find the 'golden egg' and the fortune of the now dead creator of the OASIS world. He must find 3 keys and 3 gates and undergo a series of tests to progress and win the prize ahead of the corporate monsters striving to change OASIS into a money making machine.
This is one of the most fun and exciting books I've read this year.
Once you start reading this you simply will not want to put it down, the story flows very well and is very entertaining, the only slight criticism would be the seemingly quick ending. The tension could have been built better and the final challenge should have played out longer.
That said, I did read it in 4 sittings it reads quickly like a movie and will definitely make a fantastic movie when and if it eventually gets made.
READY PLAYER ONE is one great piece of literature, a book that not only will get hold of you from page one and never let go but it will also speak directly to your soul. At the same time though, Gen-Xers will have the time of their life in a nostalgia trip of the 1980's like no other.
Wade Watts is an 18-year old orphan living with his heartless aunt in a stacked trailer park. He is obese and suffers from acme and severe lack of social skills but to him it matters little because he is almost always online, getting schooled and hanging out with his friends on a massively multiplayer online environment named OASIS.
OASIS consists of a virtually endless number of worlds, some magical, others cyberpunk and yet others approximating the real world. OASIS is a huge success as in 2044, when the gap between the rich and the poor has grown into an unbridgeable chasm and all of the fossil fuels are gone (but not the environmental problems their abuse caused), life is bleak for the great majority of humanity. The only sane refuse is to get lost in this digital heaven.
When James Halliday, the insanely rich and eccentric creator of OASIS, dies he wills his multi-billion company to the first person who will discover the three keys he Easter-egged into his digital universe. So the worldwide stampede of egg-hunters (known as gunters) starts off, people searching for the ultimate video game prize. Their only clues are Halliday's video message and known 80's fixation. With such a global race, a race that takes the masses back to simpler and happier times, the 80's come back in fashion.
Early video games, taking their first steps just out of the primordial sea and capturing the imagination of an entire generation with only some blinking pixels. Classic RolePlaying Games with dungeon crawling, looting, re-equiping and leveling up. Sit-coms of unique determined optimism, springing from an era of a growing economy and reigned-in capitalism. SciFi TV series offering immersion that was never again replicated. Toys and gadgets that sprung from instances of pure genius. Movies so epic in scope and impact that one developed blind-spots to their cheesy props and plot holes.
Like a good 80's pop-culture narrative the hero (known by his handle of Parzival) has companions (Aech and Art3mis, Shoto and Daito), he has to face powerful villains (Sorrento and his army of Sixers), overcome insurmountable obstacles and find his destiny. A classic piece of literature that will find its rightful place in the 21st century canon.
The pop-cultural zeigeist shows a strong geek-chic bias lately but even if the 80's were before your time or you never played any MMOGs or even any video games you will still love this book. You will not want to miss a single line of code, you will more fun than Ferris Bueller on his day off and, when done, you will feel the urge to start it all over again. And again.
Because you too will ask yourself: did Ernest write this book especially for me or is the gravity tag of the pop-culture during our teenage years so powerful we have all unknowingly turned into its image?
Can you hear the 28K modem screeching its connecting handshake in the background?
WITH MY HIGHEST RECOMMENDATIONS!
I loved this book from beginning to end, definitely the best and most original I've read this year. Sure it helps (but is not a prerequisite) if you remember the films, music and consoles of the 80's and having owned the ubiquitous Atari 2600 and watched War Games (the film) more than once I was in my element here. It's a pity the excellent Sinclair ZX81 didn't get name-checked alongside the Commodores and TRS-80s but as it was set in the States, this was understandable.
The crux of the story is classic good vs evil, David and Goliath stuff as the penniless teenager from the wrong side of the tracks (or the "Stacks" in this case) uses his wit and wisdom to do battle against the dreaded IOI Corporation in the computerized pursuit of the greatest Easter Egg (hidden object in a video game) ever coded. It's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Tron rolled into one with a love story on the side as Parzival and his motley crew of four gunters (egg 'unters) go to war with only their computers and geeky knowledge of all things 80's in their armoury. It's a retro terrabyte sized roller coaster set in the not too distant future where a fuel-poor society has retreated into the virtual world to escape the harsh and desolate reality outside.
The characters, fast-moving plot and author's vision and imagination combine to make this an immense and page-turning read but one question I do have is how the 18 year old Parzival could have watched all those movies and TV series, listened to all that music and played all those games in his short life ! ;o)
on 27 August 2015
The central conceit of this novel is that utterly useless, but obsessive, knowledge of 80s nerd culture will one day be so useful it could be used to take down evil corporations and even solve world hunger. It was impossible to shake the mental image of the author, surrounded by Atari games and D&D boxes, trying to write a story where his awkward kid self could become a hero. The end result is as absolutely ludicrous as it sounds.
In the future, the world economies have all but collapsed, and overcrowding has led to mass slums and the rise of 1984-like corporations. To escape the real world, everybody joins the Oasis, a cross between WOW and Second Life, designed by an eccentric multi-billionaire who, upon his death, tasks everyone with finding an Easter Egg hiding in the world in order to inherit his fortune and the controlling stake in the game.
Ready Player One reads like a teen novel, with the obsessive characters exhibiting little to no introspection, spouting off their "nerd knowledge" constantly and with no context, and having an almost comical lack of emotional depth or development. Yet it's that nerd knowledge, firmly entrenched in the 70s and 80s, with little reference to anything that occurred in the decades between, that is least likely to appeal to anybody under the age of 30.
And yet... despite the many and varied problems with this book, I came away from it with a warm feeling of nostalgia, and a desire to dive in and play a game of Joust, or to give Zork a go, even to watch some old Toho movies. To relish in my own nerd knowledge a little more, even though that knowledge will never save the world.
It's not a good book, but I definitely got something out of it in the end.
on 9 March 2014
I’ve spent the last hour or so wavering between giving this book 4* or 5*. It’s a difficult one to judge. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any science fiction, but my housemate persuaded me to give this one a go and I’m glad she did.
It follows the story of Wade Watt, a teenage gamer in a world where virtual reality is more real than reality itself. Set in a semi-post-apocalyptic America, real life is pretty grim. The world is in its third decade of recession. Fuel is almost entirely depleted and the majority of the population exists in a state of abject poverty, living in slums known as The Stacks, which are trailer parks of caravans stacked up to thirty high in rusting frameworks.
Almost everyone spends their time hooked up to OASIS, which is a virtual reality world that anyone can access with a visor and a pair of special haptic gloves. It’s started to replace the functions of the real world. Kids attend school there, business is conducted there and the currency is more valuable and stable than any currency in the real world.
When the creator of OASIS dies, he leaves his vast multibillion dollar fortune to whoever can solve a series of riddles, obtaining keys that allow them through “gates” where they have to complete a challenge to obtain the riddle for the location of the next key. It also happens that the creator of OASIS was obsessed with 80′s sub and pop culture.
Into this walks Wade, our (anti)hero. He’s a nerdy, slightly overweight, acne spotted eighteen year old who knows just about everything there is to know about the 80s and is obsessed with finding Halliday’s easter egg, which will give him the creator’s fortune and control over the company that owns and runs OASIS. It’s been five years since Halliday died and when Wade finally figures out the location of the copper key, everyone goes nuts.
Cue a thrilling ride through virtual reality, retro gaming and culture, battles with The Man (IOI – aka the ‘sixers’) and a sweet coming of age and romance story.
It took me a long time to really get into the story, to be honest. I had a weirdly sheltered upbringing – science fiction was a total no-no in our house. I’ve still never seen the original Star Wars movies all the way through, I’ve never been into gaming and even most of the television culture is unknown to me. I didn’t even discover Firefly until a couple of years ago. For that reason alone, most of the references went way over my head. I was also only born in the 80s so much of it meant absolutely nothing to me. That said, the ones I did know and love made me smile whenever I came across them. It also meant that I was a little at a loss to understand the rules of OASIS. I’ve never been any kind of VR gamer or into D&D, so I was lacking some of the framework for how it all worked. I did pick it up the deeper I got into the story and I’m not taking off any star rating because of my own ignorance. I just wish I’d been able to pick up on more of the references.
The other reason it took me a while to get into it is that Cline has created a uniquely rich world. From the grim reality to the awe-inspiring virtual reality of OASIS, he’s given it rich texture, presence and history. The characters are fascinating. That kind of world building requires the reader to have a vast amount of information and the majority of it is imparted in the first several chapters. To give Cline credit, he does it in a graceful enough way to avoid that awkward “info-dump” feeling. It’s all worked into the story, but it’s a lot to wade through to get into the actual shape of the story.
When you do though, you get so absorbed in it that sometimes you forget the characters are in virtual reality. It’s a weird experience but thoroughly enjoyable.
There were so many aspects of this story that I connected with and, sometimes, that was in an uncomfortable way. At one point Wade realises that OASIS has become his life because it’s everything he can never have in the real world. Coming back gets harder and harder every time. I know that feeling so well. When I’m writing, I get absorbed in the worlds I create. Coming back to reality from being someone who has no limits is a crushing, hollow and depressing feeling. It resonated in ways I can’t describe.
There’s a lot of discussion about the nature of online relationships and how people choose to either hide their reality completely or are more real online than they ever could be in person. Again, that was something that connected with me on a base level. I’ve met some of my best friends online. Most of them I’ve met in person, but it’s too easy to forget that there are a lot of people online that aren’t who they claim to be. If you’ve ever been burned by something like that, you’ll know exactly where the character’s emotions are coming from.
The moral aspect of the story is also kind of interesting. Wade and his fellow egg hunters (known as Gunters) spend a lot of time clashing with IOI, a huge multinational corporation that is determined to find the egg first so that they gain control of OASIS and make money from it. With unlimited funds and staff to throw at it, Wade and friends are very much the underdog in a classic David vs Goliath story.
I can’t help but think that the book would make a brilliant film, but the CGI would have to be astonishing to do it any kind of justice and I could imagine that the copyrights would bog a studio down in paperwork for decades to come.
From all my praise, you’re probably wondering why I knocked off half a star. The truth is that I knocked off a whole star for various plot holes. There were a couple of occasions in the book when things just conveniently all came together that didn’t quite ring ‘true’. There were also a couple of occasions, most notably towards the end when Wade sets up his indenture, that everything happens and you suddenly get an explanation of the last three weeks leading up to it. It’s almost like Cline wrote the book in an entirely linear fashion and when he realised something had to happen that he hadn’t plotted for, he just dropped in the backstory there and then, Blue Peter style, to get everyone in the right place.
I then awarded an extra half star for kudos alone. This is a debut novel. A debut novel people, one that is richer and deeper than an awful lot of the scifi that’s out there and being written by established authors. If you love gaming, scifi or the 80s (or any combination of the above) this book will blow you away. Buy it.
on 13 December 2013
"Ready Player One" is the story of dystopian America in a year 2044. Man character Wade Watts is an 18 year old guy living in a trailer park. The world ruled by large corporations, ran out of fossil fuels and majority of people are unemployed, homeless and starved; the only happiness in anyone's life is a virtual free-to-play reality (more world then the game) called the OASIS. The only way to get rid of his miserable life, Wade as million others players is trying to win the OASIS contest, started by OASIS creator, recently deceased. One who wins it will gain his fortune and control over the OASIS.
The book is centered on this contest and Wade's relations with his on-line friends, Aech and Art3mis, who he never encountered in real life. Towards the book end action will move from the virtual to the real world as well.
I wasn't aware of the hype this book created in the "geek" world so it was a real surprise how interesting it was. It brought me back to my youth with its many references (movie, music, video games) to the world of 80's when I was growing up. Also, it brings lot of questions with the parallels drawn to our current world and where we as human race could end up due to the hyper speed of technology development. Whether we are going to live in a world like this in thirty years since today we are spending lot of our time on-line interacting with people we haven't or won't meet in real life?
As already mentioned, the book is homage to the 80's and geek culture as contest itself is revival of those years which are distant past in time when action is taking place. It's obvious that author was fully immersed in everything what was happening those years and this book can be used like a reference to the video games, movies and music back then. But author could be also called a visionary because of some ideas that for sure will soon be possible, like taking part in some favorite movie as one of the characters and go through the movie. That would be a major success, the best virtual reality (game) ever.
The role technology is playing in our life is in fact main question asked by the book. He pictured the future world where people are living almost 24h in virtual reality doing all the activities and only stepping back to real world to perform basic physiological needs, sometimes completely amazed forgetting even that. This is not a beautiful picture, but it is not something which is pure fiction, even these days. If you imagine the OASIS with all its possibilities exists out there for real, I cannot imagine a single person who would not want to spend at least some of their time inside.
While I read it, regardless of I'm a bit older than the main characters, I could see myself doing the same things as these characters, bringing me back to the relaxed 80's when I was a kid and that is why I am thinking this book was great to read.
The only drawback for me was the inclusion of a little unnecessary love story inside plot but looking at the book as a whole it is not that big flaw.
It would not be a spoiler to say that "Ready Player One" is also homage to every single movie we watched in 80's, as kids, where the loser not only proves himself but to rest of the world he is the best/smartest and gets together with the cutest girl at the end. To be fair, there are moments in book where reader can feel the things could go either way but all the time knowing there's only one way book can finish up. And in this case I don't see that as a flaw.
"Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline is must-read book for anyone who lived and enjoyed 80's but also for all younger generations to see what they missed. I am sure that during reading or after it, you will again be reminded on all those movies and video games in which we spent a carefree childhood.
on 28 October 2013
Ready Player One was a great book about a grim futuristic world where theres mass poverty and the crime rates have sky rocketed, the people escape to a virtual reality called the Oasis. Now the interesting thing about the creator of the Oasis is that he dies and he left in this game world an easter egg, if a player finds it then they win a mass fortune. OASIS money is the most stable currency available. Most people are stuck in schools that are like prisons, and unemployment that is worse.
It's a grim world that Ernest Cline has created in his first novel, Ready Player One, and that's why his protagonist Wade Watts has hacked together some recycled computers so he can escape into the OASIS. But there's an escape hatch even more appealing than gaming. Oasis creator James Halliday has died, and his will stipulates that his massive fortune will go to the gamer who finds three "keys" that unlock an Easter Egg in his virtual world. Nobody can figure out where the first key is, until Wade working alone, figures it out. And that's when things in this fantastic story get really crazy. In Ready Player One, Cline deftly balances his story on the border between two worlds: the harsh reality of Wade's life, where he's a dirt-poor orphan living in a rotting van whose most valuable possession is a connection to the OASIS (his high test scores have earned him a free connection to the planet where his virtual school is located); and the galaxy inside the OASIS, where Wade quickly becomes a gamer superstar after he finds the first egg.
The book was filled with pop culture references, especially from the 80's that if you grew up in that period, then you would easily recognize. The book had some really amazing and humorous moments that made it one of the best and most fascinating books I've ever read. In the front cover it mentions that the book was more like Willy wonka and the matrix, while I wouldn't exactly describe like that, but still it was pretty close (more like the matrix and Brazil). Overall, it was an interesting and great story and a new take on the traditional dystopian novel. As long as you can get past not recognizing some/most of the allusions and video game references (and I did, with ease), you'll enjoy this read. I highly recommend this.
on 15 July 2013
The main protagonist in the book is Wade. Wade is a disillusioned teen living in a not too distant future. A future where there is a chronic energy crisis. By that I mean there isn't any! It's all gone! Planet Earth has all but run out of fossil fuels and the world has subsequently gone into total meltdown. War, famine, disease and record unemployment are rampant the world over.
The only thing that keeps Wade going is the OASIS. The OASIS is a vast virtual world and is the brainchild the brilliant and eccentric game designer James Halliday. Inside the OASIS Wade can escape the decrepit misery of the real world and immerse himself in the beautifully rendered vistas of the OASIS. Inside are thousands of different worlds to explore which are inhabited by millions of avatars (human controlled characters). The extent to which the OASIS has become a part of society is best demonstrated by the fact that Wade goes to school inside the OASIS!
It all changes however when James Halliday dies. Upon his death his will is executed and James Halliday reveals via a pre-recorded video that he has hidden an egg inside the OASIS. The finder of this egg will inherit ownership of the OASIS and all of Halliday's billions. Cue worldwide hysteria! Wade - and half the planet - then devote their entire life to finding the egg. But to find it he must first decipher a number of clues and solve a series of puzzles. All the puzzles are based on 80's pop culture due to James Halliday's fixation with that era. This takes the reader on a wonderfully nostalgic ride down memory lane. If like me you are a 30 something male you are going to lap this up. Wade has stiff competition though, mainly through the all-powerful corporate bully that is Innovative Online Industries. Their commander-in-chief - Sorrento is obsessed with the egg and fights real dirty to get to it first.
The characters are really well developed. Along the way Wade falls in love and goes on a tremendous journey as a person. The book also poses some moral questions, such as how us humans have no regard for our beautiful planet and are quite happy to destroy it in the name of convenience!
I cant recommend this book highly enough and therefore suggest you let Wade's take you on a glorious adventure across the OASIS!
Back in the day I was a geeky girl gamer so as soon as I saw that Ready Player one was about game geeks with strong links to the 1980's I was all over it and from start to finish I couldn't put it down. It's fantastic. I don't know if it's because the 80's are my era and games are in my blood but I suspect it would be just as epic a read for anyone who doesn't share my history. It's just fantastic. The story telling is spot on and there are so many twists and turns that it's hard to put down.
The 80's references are everywhere, since the whole idea of the contest in the book focuses on the 80's but the author has either done his homework very well or was in fact a geek boi himself. I'm guessing it's the latter and he probably still is.
Although it's set in the future the story took me right back. The music references alone were like a trip down memory lane. Epic soundtrack to read along to!
Apart from all of that, I really, really liked the hero Parzival and cared about what happened to him. Total geek but that's the point of the book - they're all geeks. Even the non-geeks are geeks. Everyone plugs into the virtual reality known as the Oasis, it's the norm for just about everyone on the planet. Even Parzival's elderly neighbour plugs in for hours and hours on end so she can sit in the pews of her virtual church and sing hymns and listen to sermons. Business meetings take place in the Oasis where attendee's don't even leave thier own office/home if they don't want to, they just sign in to the Oasis, put on their virtual reality goggles and gloves and thier avatars do their business dealings in the comfort of virtual rooms/workplaces, with collegues who live on the other side of the planet. Kids don't go to school much, they just plug into the VR school's in the Oasis. Everything is done via the Oasis, even the very poor homeless people have access to free VR goggles and gloves so that they can hook up via free wireless and imerse themselves in a reality that's favourable to thier own. There's nothing that can't be done on the Oasis and nowhere that can't be visited.
I barely know where to start with this one. It's really hard to say much about it without ruining the plot. And the good bits that aren't about the plot are just too many to single out one or two to write about. It's all good. It's just...really, really good and I'd recommend it. It brought back to mind lots of things from my youth that I thought I'd forgotten and for that I'm grateful. Plus, I got a fantastic story to immerse myself in so all-in-all it was moeny well spent.
Ah, the 80's. It's like I never left :D
on 13 January 2012
Before I say any more I would like to ask you a handful of questions:
Do you enjoy games, either of the video or role playing variety?
Do you enjoy richly imagined dystopian stories?
Were you a teen in the 1980s?
Do you love 80s films?
Do you love 80s music?
Do you love 80s TV?
Do you consider yourself to be a geek, either wholly or partly?
If your answer to any or all of these questions is yes then you have to get your hands on a copy of this book. Ready Player One is now the book that I want to give to every guy who like me had their teenage years in the 1980s, every guy, whatever their age, who loves gaming, be it computer or RPG, and every guy who considers themselves even just a little bit of a geek. It was written for the adult market, but is perfectly suitable for boys of 15+, especially those who are into gaming, comics, and general geekiness.
I read this book during the recent Christmas break when we visited friends in Canada. On the flight across the Atlantic I was very privileged to be able to read The Rising, Will Hill's sequel to last year's Department 19. I read it cover to cover during the flight from London to Chicago (it was brilliant btw), and I was then left with the dilemma of what to read next. Surely anything else would seem dull and boring in comparison? For some reason I turned to Ready Player One, a book I had downloaded to my kindle on impulse - I can't remember how I heard about it, but the blurb (and the 100s of five star reviews) made it sound a little different from my usual fare.
I was hooked from the first chapter - it felt as if this was the book I had been waiting for all my adult life! OK, that is a little melodramatic, but Cline's story gelled with me in a way that few books have. In fact, I am struggling to find the words to explain just how great I think this book is, and for this reason I apologise in advance if this review comes across as a little less coherent that normal. It didn't pip Department 19 to the Book of the Year title as I have read D19 several times and it is just as good each time. I can't say this about Ready Player One, although I have a strong feeling that its appeal is more likely to increase on further readings. Only time and multiple readings will tell. It could well squeeze its way into my list of all time favourite books.
I am proud to be a geek, even though I probably sit much further down the scale than many other guys. It shames me to admit that I have never played an RPG like D&D, I didn't spend my teenage years playing on arcade machines (although I do still have my ZX Spectrum on which I must have logged thousands of hours throughout the 80s), and my knowledge of the early home computers is fairly limited. But I do love the music and films of that decade, I love gaming on my PS3, and I still have many of the action figures I collected back then. Ready Player One tapped into every single nostalgic cell in my brain and had me grinning from ear to ear as I read it.
The story is set in the not-too-distant future in a society where the environment has pretty much collapsed and there is wide-spread poverty, disease and famine. Yes dystopia fans, this book is for you as well! To escape the day-to-day bleakness that surrounds them people jack into the OASIS in their millions. OASIS is a huge online world where, if you can afford it and/or have the skills to 'level up' you can be or do just about anything. Hero of the story, Wade Watts, is a typical geek - overweight, low self-esteem, self-deprecating - who has grown up loving and living the OASIS. He doesn't even need to attend his regular school as he was academically able enough to ditch that and be educated at one of the OASIS schools.
The story starts five years after techno genius and creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, passed away, leaving a huge surprise in his last will and testament: his complete fortune and control of the OASIS would go to the first person who could solve his puzzle. It is the ultimate contest, where winner takes all, and as such Wade and everyone of his generation became totally obsessed with solving the puzzles and finding Halliday's Easter egg. And five years on nobody has come even close.... until Wade Watts has a flash of brilliance whilst daydreaming during his online Latin class. From this moment the race for the prize is on, with Wade competing against some of the most famous egg hunters (or 'gunter's' as they become known) in the world.
Of course, no dystopian novel would be complete without a particularly nasty villain and in Ready Player One this takes the form of IOI, a huge corporation that seeks to control the OASIS and start charging users, thereby shattering the lives of the many poor and needy that rely on it to escape from their terrible real lives. With this in mind, IOI employ huge teams of players, known as sixers, who work full time to try to solve the various puzzles that emerge as the story unfolds. For IOI the end completely justifies the means, and they will stop at nothing if it means they win control of the OASIS. Even mass murder.
For me, this book has everything. I love quest novels - it has a grand quest. I love action and adventure - it has these in abundance. I love ordinary heroes who are flawed, and can easily be identified with - Wade Watts is one such guy. And I so, so love the 80s: the TV (just got the complete MacGyver DVD box set for Christmas); the movies (Ferris, Breakfast Club, Goonies, Wargames to name but a tiny few); the cartoons (He-Man, Transformers); the list goes on and one and this book bundles all of these elements together in the perfect story.
Whatever your level of geekness, and whatever your age, from teen upwards there will be something for you in Ready Player One. Yes, it is full of 80s references and terminology, and therefore those alive during this time will get the most out of it. But there were many references that were totally new to me, and far from causing problems, this just made the book even more fascinating. It made me want to read it all again, with a PC close at hand so that I could look up many of the games, machines, films and music mentioned in the story. After all, films such as Wargames and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and TV shows such as Ultraman, are readily available on DVD, Rush's 2112 can be listened to on youtube, and also thanks to the internet you too can play early 80s arcade games such as Joust and Black Tiger. This book is written for every geek out there, and I am sure will go down a storm with some of the 15+ boys at school.