Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Hello and welcome to my next book review installment! My latest find, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, was actually picked up by my husband on a recent trip to Chicago. Despite the fact that it was his purchase, he happens to be the last one in the household to read it. My sister-in-law was the first to make off with it (you can read her review here) and I dragged it along on our trip to London. Even though we didn’t have a whole lot of downtime on our trip I managed to finish the book in four days, which is pretty good for me!


Here’s the excerpt:

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.

My Thoughts?

I’m just going to start out by saying I loved this book! It’s a YA book, but also appeals to the generation who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, constantly referencing pop culture, particularly related to gaming and geek culture.

The author does an excellent job traversing between the colorful cyber gaming world and the much harsher truth of reality. Most of the world lives in abject poverty, including the novel’s main character, living in stacked trailer parks, sad apartment blocks, or sometimes just homeless. On the other hand, society as a whole spends much of its time escaping the dreary real world by living inside an enormous shiny video game, with jobs, schools, recreated fictional worlds… Both sides of this intriguing world were vividly painted.

The plot moves along very well and there were many times when I struggled to put the book down, anxious to find out what would happen next. The treasure hunt through Cline’s wonderful world keeps you riveted, intrigued by the trivia and intelligent story weaving. The characters were believable, fun, and real, plus I really enjoyed the character twist near the end. And there was just enough of a love story laced throughout to keep your heart going.

This book gets a strong five out of five! Very much enjoyed it and would love to see what the author has in store for us next.



One thought on “Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

  1. I finished this book last week, so very timely for me! This book was such a fascinating mixed bag for me. I am a huge Star Wars/Atari/pre-2000s culture geek, and a fan of Ernest Cline’s other labor of love “Fanboys”. I have to praise the imagination involved, and the VR stuff. The world-building was probably the best part, as he made a very believable future by taking some things (like megalomaniacal Comcast) just one step farther.

    Sadly, the writing frustrated me a lot of the time. The style was believable for an 18 year old narrator, but half the plot beats almost relied on author intervention. Namely, how Wade seemed to stumble upon the correct answers whenever the plot required him to. I think many of these errors came from Cline’s background as a filmmaker, and some of his ideas just didn’t translate as well to fiction. You can have “aha” movements in movies via subtle visual cues. In a book, you’re basically reduced to “so this idea popped into my head…” Similarly, the book was very front heavy in that you basically get a 100 page establishing shot before the plot kicks in. Again, in a movie, that can be a 10 minute opening montage.

    However, like you said, it kept me reading. The characters were likable enough. I especially enjoyed that the protagonist had the agency to involve himself in the plot rather than being “summoned” like a Chosen One or “reluctantly thrown in”. That was very refreshing. So to me, it was one of those books that was still pretty great in spite of a lot of what I perceived as flaws, and I couldn’t even say that a better author would have done better. Because it wouldn’t have had the love and passion that Cline put into it. It really was a piece of Cline’s soul, and while it wasn’t perfect, it was incredibly pure and honest. And hey, I’ve got to respect that. I’m definitely looking forward to the movie too 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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