Book Review: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
Genre: Science Fiction
Number Of Pages/Listening Time: 374 pages, or 15h 45m on audiobook
Goodreads | Audible
Synopsis: 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.
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. 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 twentieth 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 Hughe’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.
★★★★ and 1/2
....For being extremely entertaining.
Despite that, it was still a fun read. It really is all about the 80's in this story: there are numerous references to 80's pop culture, technology, and games, and while I didn't really know a lot of them, it was still rather fun to recognize the stuff that I did know. Even the plot had a bit of an 80's vibe to it!
The characters weren't all that fleshed out, but they were still fun to read about, and the plot kept things going without slowing down. It is definitely a story that is both fun and fast, although you might to pause a little to look up the movie/game/80's technology that one of the characters is referring to, just for kicks.
As for listening to it on audio.....well, I dunno. I think that might have been the reason why I didn't enjoy it quite so much this time around. Wil Wheaton did a good job narrating (fun fact here: did you he's the actor who plays Wesley in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which by the way first came out in 1987?); he certainly played the part of the nerdy kid quite well, but it still felt like it dragged a little bit. I guess the narration wasn't entirely what I had pictured it to be, but that could be because I read it in print previously so I had certain expectations.
Anyway, this is definitely a story that is worth checking out. Like I said, it's fun and it's fast. You'll never look at gaming the same way again!