Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Completion Date: January 21, 2012
Reason for Reading: Fun!
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 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 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?
I started the year out listening to this book on audio, but then the guy walked off with my mp3 player and lost my spot. This lead to me switching to reading it. When I was in the midst of this I was discussing possible buddy read with Melissa from Book Nut and we decided we would review this one together. We just asked each other questions. Here are my answers:

1. First off, what did you think?
I was very impressed. This book is like the nerds answer to literature. Plus, it is a love affair with the 80's which is a bit entertaining. I had been enjoying the book immensely for quite some time, but I think the moment I decided I was going to love it was when he dedicated an entire chapter to the band rush and their album 2112.

2. I'm going to ask a personal question: are you old enough to have gotten the 80s pop culture references in the book? Did it work for you as a plot device/gimmick?
I did get many of the 80s pop culture references. Not all of them, though. The funny part of the whole experience is I have never been much of a gamer and here I am reading a novel that centres around games from the 80's. I was very happy when there was lots of explanation because I had never heard of most of those before. The music, the movies, and the culture, though, I think I got most of it. And, I loved that aspect of the book. I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if it was just a dystopian novel with a game as its main feature.

3. So, what did you think of the whole contest -- did the book work as a dystopian adventure story?
I liked the book because it was a bit different from the 'typical' books out there. It was still a dystopian novel, though, and they are very popular right now. I enjoyed the contest. I think it worked rather well overall. I enjoyed watching things play out and the thrill of moving on to the next level. I also enjoy how he didn't make things too simple and there were epic battles with the enemies. It was a book about a lot of things and I think that made it all the more special.

4. Did you like any of the characters? What did you think of the whole real vs. virtual life aspect of the story?
Well, who hasn't dreamed of escaping? The Oasis offers the perfect way to do that, right? I am not so sure I could imagine vanishing entirely, but they didn't have a great world to live in at the best of times. The world now is getting more about having a 'real life' identity and an 'online' identity. Just look at the world of blogging, online dating, etc. I think he picked a topic that most people can easily relate to.

As to the characters, I think they all worked well together. If the book was just about Wade it might have got a bit boring. It makes it more human when he has friends, enemies, and even a love interest. I even enjoyed James Halliday as we learned more and more about him as the book progressed.

5. So, I thought he got a little moralistic at the end... what did you think of the ending?
Yeah, the ending was just... weird... I didn't really feel it had the same tone as the rest of the book. It was almost like Cline had this ending in mind for the entire writing process and didn't much care if it didn't fit the book as well as it could have. I have all ready started forgetting the parts of the ending I didn't care for and just remembering the overall experience in a positive light.

You can read Melissa's answers to the questions I asked her by clicking here.

30 comments:

  1. I downloaded this one over the weekend and look forward to reading it soon!

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  2. This one's been on my "TBR" pile for a while. I need to pick it up soon, it sounds really good.

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    1. It has been getting a lot of buzz. I think a lot of people own it.

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  3. Oh, yeah, I was totally sold on the novel by the time we got to Rush, but that just really sealed the deal. And I agree with you about the ending. As always, it was fun reading with you!

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    1. I know! I was very excited about the Rush chapter. :)

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  4. I really liked this one, too! It was funny, because Kevin and I had just watched a documentary on RUSH - one of his favorite bands - so when he started to describe the star clue, I immediately knew what it was!

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    1. Nice! We rewatched the newer documentary of them that came out more recently the other night.

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  5. I have read so many reviews of this one. I wonder if I should just try it for myself!!???

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    1. I suppose it depends on whether the idea behind it interests you...

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  6. I love the description of this book as "literature for nerds." So true! I so enjoyed this book. It was a hoot -- whether or not you got all the 80s references.

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  7. This sounds like so much fun. I'd love to read it. I'm not sure I would get the 80s game references but that's probabaly not that important.

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    1. I just don't have a lot of interest in games no matter what year..

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  8. I've been on the fence about this one. But then you said "This book is like the nerds answer to literature." so now I'm kinda sold. I just wonder; do I want to do the audio or read the physical book?

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    1. That's a hard call. Having done both they both had their pros and cons.

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  9. I've seen this book countless times around the book blogosphere, so why didn't I ever realize it was a feast of 80s pop-culture?

    Flying DeLoreans?! I want it yesterday!

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  10. I loved this book and was amazed at how I would forget that they were in a virtual world because the setting was so good and the pace intense. And the culture references were fun of course!

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    1. Exactly! It was very well-written.

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  11. I have been meaning to reading this one for quite sometime now. I am hoping that I can read it by spring or so with some of my other reading responsibilities that I have going on. Great review the book it wants me to want to read it even more.

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    1. I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it!

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  12. I like how you admit to forgetting about the parts that you don't like! I do that too, sometimes. I have got to get this book. It sounds original with all the popculture references, even if it uses the game setting that is so 'in' right now. Really good review, Kelly!

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    1. Thanks! It was a lot of fun!

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  13. I added this one to my list. Can't remember where I saw the first review, but after seeing a couple of good reviews, on the list it went!

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    1. Yes, there have been lots of reviews of this book.

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  14. Eeep! I can't remember the ending now. I have a bad habit of ending a book on audio and not really realizing it's over (I know, weird).

    I'm so glad you liked this one! And I love how you describe it as a love affair with the 80s. I'm guessing we're around the same age so some of the references were lost on me but I loved the ones that I did get.

    Hmmm--so no more audio?

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    1. Yeah, I am sure I missed some of the references, too. I am hopeless with games...

      Not sure on the audio. I will have to see.

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  15. I'm really looking forward to this one; I have it on audio, too, but the book looks like it would read really quickly. Sometimes the audio almost seems to slow ya down, y'know?

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    1. Yeah, I know what you mean.

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