Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
(Crown, Hardcover, 9780307887436, August 2011, 384pp.)

The Short of It:

An entertaining romp down memory lane, but in the end its potential for “geektastic-ness” was never fully realized.

The Rest of It:

It’s the year 2044 and the real world is apparently a place where no one wishes to live. Instead, everyone chooses to live in the OASIS, a virtual world created by James Halliday. Users don their gear, sit in their Haptic chairs and then surround themselves with valuable artifacts to be used in the game. Their avatars are everything as they choose to live their lives behind these figures.

Wade Watts is one of those people. He’s a kid, living with an Aunt who really doesn’t want him there and he has no real-life friends and only a few virtual ones, but what he does have is skill. This comes in handy when Halliday leaves his entire fortune to the person who can solve the OASIS riddle that he’s left behind.

What worked for me, are the numerous references to 80’s pop-culture. I am an 80’s girl, through and through so I enjoyed many of the references, but this book tried to be too many things and in the end it was completely consumed by the game itself.

I never considered myself a gamer, but when I was in middle school, I spent a good chunk of time playing Pac -Man, Galaga, and let’s not forget Frogger. So the fact that gaming was front and center, really wasn’t the issue here, to me, it had to do with balance or specifically the lack of it.

I didn’t really like any of the characters and they all seemed a bit flat. Perhaps much of that is due to the fact that many of their true identities are not revealed until the end of the book. Instead, we are introduced to their avatars which to me, left a lot to be desired.

For this book to have worked for me, I needed more of Wade outside of his avatar, a less predictable story and a little less of the gaming re-hash that ensued every time Wade had to do battle with his opponent via an 80’s video game.

To really understand how I felt about the book, click here.

Source: Borrowed

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25 thoughts on “Review: Ready Player One”

    1. I realize lots of reader loved it and that I in the minority. I think I just expected it to be more than it was. I LOVED the 80s but I think the author relied too much on them to carry this story.

  1. I am listening to this one on audio right now, narrated by Wil Wheaton (who is doing a great job with it) I go between feeling very excited and interested in the story to feeling less inclined to want to sit and listen, which is strange for me. I am liking it, don’t get me wrong, but for some reason, the sections that aren’t devoted to worldbuilding are less enticing for me.

    1. And I am 100% sure that Wil Wheaton telling the story is probably much more interesting than reading it in print (if that tells you anything).

    1. I think the 80s references is probably what saved this book from being a DNF for me. Without them though, do you think the story would hold up?

    1. If you love the 80’s you’ll find parts of it amusing, but honestly…I don’t see why it’s so popular. I feel as if most people just fell in love with that aspect of it and overlooked the rest of it.

  2. I like 80s references, but it can be overdone. I’m not sure knowing their avatars and not the real characters until the end would work for me. Thanks for the honest review.

  3. I’m bummed that you weren’t as over the moon about this book as I was, but that’s just one of those things that happens. 🙂 My husband read it and had some of the same issues that you did. I thought it was a lot of fun and the best part to me was the whole virtual reality world. It reminded me a lot of some of my old sci-fi favorites.

    1. To me, it just seemed like a vehicle for Cline’s impressive knowledge of all things 80s. Maybe if Wade had a true love of the 80’s it would have worked better for me. There’s even that one line where Cline states that the 80’s made a comeback because Halliday loved that decade and so the gamers knew to study it. That took the wind out of my sails.

  4. My husband was underwhelmed too. He felt it wasn’t terribly well-written and was rather lacking in story. I feel less compelled to read it after his reaction, but yours cements it. Until it inevitably makes the Tournament of Books bracket, of course:-)

  5. I was looking forward to your review of this and think you described the goods and bads of it well. I would like the 80’s culture thing I think but I am really not into video games. On the other hand my husband could appreciate the video game aspect so I’m thinking he might like this!

  6. That’s too bad, the premise is soo interesting! It reminded me of a Japanese animation movie I saw recently (and loved) called Summer Wars. I’m a 90s girl, s my games were Prince of Persia and Broken Sword – the early versions, of course!

  7. I’m very sad you weren’t blown away like I was. I was so freaking geeked out over this audio. The world-building, the cyber world (which is not hard to imagine at all), the 80’s culture, OMG. Well, cover your ears baby, when my review comes out November 4th.

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