Ready Player One ~ Ernest Cline

  • Title:  Ready Player One
  • Author:  Ernest Cline
  • Genre:  Science Fiction, Dystopian
  • Format:  Unabridged Audio Book
  • Source:  Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Sonja
  • Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Description:  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?

Review:  Ok. So. I found this book in my audible collection one night during a power outage. I needed something to listen to as I attempted to go to sleep. (Utter silence except for battery backups beeping disturbs my ability to sleep!) This book has been on my TBR pile for a while, so I tried to listen. I really did. I kept zoning out – which was a bit of the purpose – but I didn’t zone out to sleep – I zoned out thinking about all those things I didn’t want to think about which is why I was listening to a book to begin with. A few days later I asked my son, who had already listened to it,  how he felt about it, and he said it was pretty good. I rolled my eyes at him.

Fast forward a few weeks (months?) later. My hubby and I were driving cross country – thought it would be nice to listen to a book. He likes sci-fi, most of the audible books are fantasy. So, I thought I would give this another go. Yep. first part dry as all get out. I dozed intermittently throughout the first few chapters. Hubby was driving – he couldn’t. Poor guy. Then, Wade finds the first clue. At that point, the story picks up dramatically and becomes unstoppable. I will say, however, that I do not think the first few chapters are skippable – they really do set up the world and the sense of urgency in which Wade lives.

Full disclosure: Had I been reading this, such was my obsession to discover if Wade wins, I would have flipped to the last few pages or chapter and read so that I could actually enjoy the novel. Since I was listening, this was impossible. So, I texted my son. He informed me that I would just have to wait til the end. Little snot.

Once Wade discovers the first clue (which is mentioned in the synopsis, so no spoiler there), the friendships and relationships and purposes of the other things mentioned in the first few (really slow) chapters all kind of come together and make sense. I’m a gamer. And, a result of the 80s. I enjoyed all the references to the old games, movies, and fiction I still love that have led to the evolution of gaming and movies of today. It is a fun fantasy to feel that this love and obsession could actually make a positive difference in the lives of others.

One absolutely magnificent aspect of this audio book: Wil Wheaton’s narration. It is magnificent. Splendiferous. It is almost like a dramatization. It is so awesome that I asked my son (who listens to far more audio books that do I) if anyone does it better. His answer: No. I actually searched audible for other books narrated by Mr. Wheaton. Oh, Wesley Crusher, who woulda known that you would achieve such a station in adulthood. I did, however, feel the need to speed up the narration. That was a very nice feature in audible and the first time I have ever used it.

What does terrify me is the persistent fictionalization of big money and big power taking over with the separation of the rich and the poor becoming even greater and more debilitating that it currently is. I see it over and over in science fiction and it is, I think, my greatest fear. I also think it is the reason I am moving more and more away from science fiction and toward fantasy: Sci-fi is becoming all too real to me. Even if that means vampires and werewolves. Ugh. Can’t I just have mages and wizards? Pretty please?

My husband and I arrived home about 2 hours shy of finishing it. Such was the intensity of the climactic portion, that we almost wished for traffic to delay our homecoming. Alas, it was not to happen. (This was probably a good thing . . .) As soon as I finished dinner, and shooed everyone off to bed, I turned the book back on and listened through to the end with rapt attention. I didn’t doze. I didn’t zone out. I listened.

So, does Wade win? You will have to get to the end to find out.

I gave this book 4.5 stars. It loses a point for the slowness of the beginning (surely there must have been some way of revealing the necessary information in a more exciting way) but it gains a point for the oh so awesome narration. I rounded down to 4 just because.

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