Sunday, April 1, 2012

review: Ready Player One

Title by Author: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2011
Page Count:  372
Source: Audio book from library
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 ten thousand 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.

My Interest in this book is: To be honest, my daughter picked it up from the library, we started to listen to it in the car, and got completely hooked!

My Review:

It’s a bleak future we have ahead of us, but the respite is the OASIS – a virtual world that most people on the planet jack in to in order to work, play or go to school.  Everyone has their own avatar that is used in the OASIS, which may or may not look like them.  In order to make sure education is available to all, students go to virtual classes on a made-up planet.  The creator of the OASIS – one James Halliday – was a huge 1980’s fan – the time when he was a teenager and most of his good memories came from.  He was the ultimate geek that lived in the world of 80’s movies, music and video games.  The OASIS was his creation in order to help the future progress, though the planet’s infrastructure was in chaos and run-down. 

Before Halliday died, he created a massive online search for his fortune.  The one to complete all of the quests will win the prize, which was his massive fortune as well as control of the OASIS.  Since Halliday was such an 80’s fan, those who were in to searching, called Gunters, immersed themselves into 80’s culture.  If you are a child or product of the 80’s you will definitely groove on this story! 

Wade Owen Watts, or Parzival as his online alter-ego, is our hero – a kid from a rotten part of Oklahoma City – The Stacks (200 foot high stacks of trailers) – and living with his aunt, as his parents had died.  Wade is a slightly overweight geeky kid who is about to graduate from high school.  His best friend, Aech (think the letter H), and he hang out in The Basement, a private online chat room, that is packed with 80’s books, video games and movies.  Both Parzival (also known as Z by Aech) and Aech have been hunting for Halliday’s egg for the past five years.  They have played almost every movie and game that Halliday had referenced in his ‘Anarack’s Almanac’ (pardon if I don’t have all the spellings right…it was an audio book!) – the Gunters bible to all things of Halliday’s in the OASIS.

Then one day, Wade finds the first of three keys that might lead him to the Egg, but will he get there first?  The corporation IOI has a team of hackers, gamers, and players whose sole mission is to be the first to find Halliday’s egg, and will do ANYTHING to be the one to find it first.  The IOI Sixers (their avatars names are all numbers – six to be exact) are led by the bad guy, Sorrento, who will do anything to ‘persuade’ others to give information that will help IOI find the egg – so that IOI will have complete control over the OASIS.  And the real story begins!

I loved all of the characters – and hated the one I was supposed to.  As a reader, you are completely immersed in the world that Cline created.  There are times that the descriptions are a bit over the top, but it helps for those not too versed in the 80’s.  Parzival falls in love with Art3mis, another gunter, though he has never met her in person…. Ah, this takes online dating to a whole new level.   The voices for all of the characters are different, as well as their mannerisms and styles.  It was refreshing to read a story that had several different characters and each one of them unique and ‘true’ to their nature!  There was also a great development of the relationships between the main characters, both in the OASIS and in the ‘real’ world that also did not seem far-fetched!

WOW!  Did I ever fall in to this book.  I couldn’t wait until I was driving to listen… it got to the point that I would bring my iTouch in and hook it up to the stereo to sit on the couch just to listen.

The story is completely engrossing – I found myself thinking about the story when not listening to it, also well after I had finished the story.  I am not one to do this, as I tend to get involved in the next book I am reading.  (I am writing this review a month after I read it, and the story is still quite fresh in my mind.)  It is so different from anything I have read and I truly enjoyed it.  I cannot wait to see if Mr. Cline will write another story… and what it might be.  This was a great debut novel, and one that will be tough to beat.  We had four people in our family, all with different reading tastes, but we are all gamers – and all four of us really enjoyed this story.  Once again, if you enjoy gaming, are an outsider, love the 80’s, or just plain love a well-told story, this book is for you!

The audio version of the story was read by Wil Wheaton – for those Star Trek nerds out there, you know who he is!  Wesley in Star Trek: Next Generation.  He did a fantastic job, even when he read his name in the story!  Having the right person do the reading makes all the difference in enjoying an audio book!

Favorite Quotes: one thing having an audio book – cannot really ‘bookmark’ favorite quotes.  It was all good!
When I finished this book, I felt: Sad that it was over, but thought that it was very well-written, and had a good ending as well!
Rating: 5 Stars
Other books to read by this author or theme: none really – but would like to see what recommendations Amazon might have for me, since I enjoyed this one so much!
Tag: futuristic, 1980’s pop culture, gaming, nerdgasm, great characters
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