Ready Player One Paperback – 5 Apr 2012
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"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 byBlade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed" (Justin Trudeau Independent)
"The science-fiction writer John Scalzi has aptly referred to Ready Player One as a 'nerdgasm' [and] there can be no better one-word description of this ardent fantasy artifact about fantasy culture…But Mr. Cline is able to incorporate his favourite toys and games into a perfectly accessible narrative" (Janet Maslin New York Times)
"A most excellent ride . . . the conceit is a smart one, and we happily root for [the heroes] on their quest . . . fully satisfying" (Boston Globe)
"Gorgeously geeky, superbly entertaining, this really is a spectacularly successful debut" (Daily Mail)
"If you grew up with an Atari or maybe had a Commodore 64 back in the day, you are going to really enjoy this one. Cline really captures the feeling of those good old days in Ready Player One" (WIRED)
"The strength of Cline's first novel, other than its geeky referencing of 1980s pop culture, is the characterisation of the Candide-like Wade and his redemptive quest in both VR and the real world" (Guardian)
"Ernest Cline’s novel deserves to be a modern classic…the most relevant novel of the 21st Century to date" (Steve Wright SciFi Now)
"The mystery and fantasy in this novel weaves itself in the most delightful way, and the details that make up Mr. Cline's world are simply astounding. Ready Player One has it all" (Huffington Post)
"Enchanting . . . Willy Wonka meets the Matrix. This novel undoubtedly qualifies Cline as the hottest geek on the planet right now. [But] you don't have to be a geek to get it" (USA Today)
"Fascinating and imaginative...It's non-stop action when gamers must navigate clever puzzles and outwit determined enemies in a virtual world in order to save a real one. Readers are in for a wild ride" (Terry Brooks, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
About the Author
ERNEST CLINE is an internationally best-selling novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. He is the author of the novels Ready Player One and Armada and co-screenwriter of the film adaptation of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. His books have been published in over fifty countries and have spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.
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It’s set in a dystopian future in 2044 – oil has run out, the climate is a wreck, and most people escape reality by spending their lives inside an immense virtual reality video game called the OASIS (similar to Second Life, if you’ve ever played it). It has its own currency, and kids even go to school inside the game. The creator of the game, James Halliday, died years earlier, without an heir to his immense empire, but left a video will with clues/easter eggs to be tracked in the game. Whoever solves these will inherit the OASIS, and the immense wealth that goes with it, and it’s an international obsession. Halliday was a teenager in the 80s and remained fixated with the era, so this means that everyone who is trying to solve the puzzle is just as fanatical, leading to some wonderful references. Wade Watts, our protagonist, is one of the millions trying to crack this. He’s a teenager, stony broke, living with his aunt, and at the bottom of the OASIS food chain. Through a combination of luck and skill with 80s arcade games, Wade somehow manages to be the first solve the first clue, and that’s when everything changes.
I’m not going to give you any spoilers, but I can’t recommend this highly enough. Great characters, very nasty baddies, loaded with 80s references, and actually worryingly possible – it’s definitely worth a read. Oh, and Steven Spielberg bought the film rights – the movie will be released in 2018. I hope he does it justice.
As we meet the principal protagonist we find that the world of the 2040s is in bad shape. The planet is beset with rampant global warming, economic collapse and the majority of its inhabitants living on government subsidies. So far, so, standard dystopian future! However the thing that moves this from a standard YA dystopia and into the realm of a bestseller are three key features; the hero Wade Watts, the world building and the massive amount of 80’s pop culture references.
Wade has real problems to struggle against; no mother or father, living on his own, no friends his own age and only the quest for the easter egg to keep him focused. A fat kid from the wrong side of town living on his wits and natural intelligence. With no friends or family he has to constantly fight for everything he possess.
The world building is excellent with the reader immediately able to visualise the world of deprivation, global warming and the end of oil. A world so terrible that most of the population has moved into the virtual world to get away from the grim reality of everyday life. The mechanics of the virtual world are also well detailed and thought out. As I was reading the book I kept thinking of a fully immersive version of Warcraft. The book is written from a first person perspective. The reader effectively lives inside Wade's head, which helps a lot with Wade being able to explain a lot of the 80's cultural references.
About half way through we meet the evil corporation trying to thwart our heroes plans. These "bad guys" are simple, one dimensional, greedy corporate goons. Having worked in the financial services sector for many years I recognised, their motivations and methods immediately. The bad guys are cheap and cheesy and a stark contrast with the heroes who are street punks living in a virtual world. The evil corporations motivation is greed and the heroes are motivated by fun, friendship, glory and the pursuit of the prize. Who you gonna root for — come on?
The final third of the book works well with our heroes facing bigger and more complex challenges. The finally is also well done and fun.
All in all an excellent, fun yarn. The book is well written, great entertainment with a blistering pace. If you are looking for a deeper meaning, or insight into nerd culture, this is probably not the book for you.
Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One" has an amazing reputation. I've heard a lot of people speak about it in hushed tones, completely in love with the story and the rapid-fire references yanked from 80s culture (and beyond). As a lifelong gamer, movie addict and music fan I expected this to hit me right in feels for the era I grew up in.
Sadly, the whole thing is just so badly written and clunky it barely hangs together. Tugging on threads of online multiplayer videogame culture, hooking up characters as virtual avatars in the vast sprawling Oasis, it sounds so promising on paper. Then it proceeds to wheel out characters that are cliched (though, props to Ernest Cline for not going down the route Spielberg probably will, making his heroes with flaws - they're overweight, they're socially inadequate, nerdy of course - but it's almost like he ticked off all the right inclusive creeds on the tips of his fingers as he was writing things up (we need a girl, a person of colour, someone from the far east but we'll make the main protagonist a while male of course!)
The references feel like they were hammered in with a tinkertoy hammer too. Some of the videogames I loved as a kid are given lip service, some of the movies I loved as a kid are too - but in a really infuriating and inconsequential way.
Without resorting too much to spoilers, the main quest (to save the massive corporation left as a legacy by a dead videogame supremo from evil corporate hands) is so disappointingly described that it just felt tacked in.
There's a romance in here too, delivered like the very worst self-published YA you've ever read with some truly dreadful dialogue between Art3mis and Parzival that made me cringe with each exchange.
I'm just about scraping together a 2 for this, based on some of the references really hitting the mark (Harry Tuttle - now that was nicely done). There was so much potential here to be clever with the reference material, go obscure with the references, tickle a few 80s and 90s games and movies that weren't just mainstream hits. All in all, the whole idea is sound but just so badly executed. Massively overrated, I hope the movie is better. Sorry if this is one of your favourite books, it really didn't do anything for this 80s kid.
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