#441 ~ Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Published by: Crown Publishing

Published on: August 16, 2011

Page Count: 3844

Genre: Science Fiction

My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased with credits from Audible.com.

Audiobook Published by: Random House Audio

Narrator: Wil Wheaton

Audiobook Length: 15 hours 46 minutes

Audiobook Sample: Thanks to Random House Audio for permission to include this five minute audio sample.

Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperbook, eBook, and Audiobook

Summary From the Publisher

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?

My Review

I purchased Ready Player One the month after it came out because everyone seemed to be talking about the wonderful 80s references. As a graduate of the Class of ’89, this seemed right up my ally. I purchased it without even reading the description. That it dealt with a bunch of futuristic video game lovers and their quest to conquer a giant nerd puzzle inside a simulated world significantly cooled my enthusiasm. Although I have many friends and a spouse who love it, regular readers will know that I’m not a fan of science fiction and fantasy. Chalking the decision to spend a credit on this audiobook up to poor research on my part (as if the title along shouldn’t have been the largest clue), Ernest Cline’s novel languished in my Audible library forgotten  entirely until Audiobook Week 2012.

One needn’t have delved far into this year’s Audiobook Week festivities to see that of all audiobooks listened to by the participants, Ready Player One was highly praised by 99% of all Audiobook Week participants. Yes, in this one instance, I was the 1%. I exaggerate, but such overwhelming support and admiration for this audiobook had me feeling both out of the loop and the equivalent of an audiobook stick in the mud. Remembering that my June Is Audiobook Month listening goal was finding my way outside of my box, I started Ready Player One the very next day. I told myself that worse case scenario that I’ll be reminded of some fun things about my youth. I would let those things be my reward for embarking on what I anticipated being a boring and even bewildering trek into the great unknown which was science fiction.

Words cannot describe how much I loved this celebration of 80s pop culture and video game super geekdom. I wasn’t far into the story when I realized how deeply invested I was in Wade’s life, the contest, and the ins and outs of the OASIS. I didn’t just care about Wade, H, and Art3mis, I freaking wanted to be a gunter! I, Jennifer Conner, who was bored to tears by most video games as a young girl, hung on every word looking for possible clues in my own personal quest to find the next key or the next gate along with WadeI couldn’t get enough of the story and I took every moment I could to listen. In the end, I was completely satisfied and not a little surprised to realize that I can no longer say that I didn’t like science fiction and fantasy. The truth is that I didn’t know what it was or what it could be.

Wil Wheaton knocked my socks off with this audiobook. It isn’t that he is an outstanding narrator. He is certainly proficient, but he doesn’t add many of the vocal bells and whistles I would associate with a top notch narrator. What made Wil Wheaton’s narration something to shout from the rooftops was quite simply how perfect he was for the novel. That he was mentioned by name within it was not lost on me. Ernest Cline must have geeked out over the casting. Wheaton’s love for the characters, the story, and his passion for the subject matter were palpable. Quite simply, having him as my guide through this experience was a pure joy.

Ready Player One is proof to me that not all peer pressure is bad. This book will stay with me for a long time to come and I would never have read it had it not been for the awesomeness that is the greater audiobook community. Thank you for one of the most fun and rewarding listens I’ve ever had.


  • At 2012.07.16 10:27, Sandy said:

    Holy crap, there for a minute I thought you were going to say you hated it. Whew. What is not to love here? I WAS the video game, Monty Python, music geek and this book was written for me. But I have heard many people who are in the their twenties and have never touched a video game in their life completely embrace this book. So yes, hurray for peer pressure! I loved this one with all my heart.

    • At 2012.07.16 13:31, Bob said:

      Not sure how much you know about Ernie Cline, but he is actually quite a popular spoken word artist, and does a lot of poetry slams, and such, Originally Random House wanted him to narrate the novel, but he actually campaigned for it to be Wil Wheaton.

      I’m glad you finally gave this a chance. It’s easy to lump all science fiction up in one big lump, full of aliens and robots but it really is quite a diverse genre full of things that can speak to a diverse group. For me, the key to good science fiction is linking the past and present with the future and RPO does this perfectly.

      Now, I just need to infect you with the zombie virus. Ummm.. I mean infect into you a love of zombie books. Yeah, that’s what i meant.

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      • At 2012.07.16 19:33, dog eared copy said:

        Technically, I think I infected her with the zombie virus with Paul is Undead (by Alan Goldsher; narrated by Simon Vance); but I do agree that the virus s been a sleeper 🙁 Maybe when Warm Bodies (by Isaac Marion) comes to the big screen, she’ll want to check out the audio (narrated by Kevin Kenerly)…. Oh wait! 21st Century Dead (a zombie anthology) is coming out and her favorite narrator has a story or two…. BWAHAHAHA! 🙂

      • At 2012.07.16 14:51, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

        No one was more surprised than I was that I loved this book! I’m listening to the clip now and wish I’d experienced in audio format.

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        • At 2012.07.16 17:06, Juju @ Tales of Whimsy.com said:

          I soooooooooooooo need this.

          • At 2012.07.16 19:39, Elisabeth said:

            I like you thought this book was way out of my comfort zone, but the audio and Will were awesome and I LOVED LOVED listening to this book. Reading it just wouldnt have been the same. I am so glad I decided to give this a try! Thank you bloggers who promoted this book, without you I never would have had this opportunity.

            • At 2012.07.17 05:21, Serena said:

              Wil Wheaton as a narrator would be the draw for me with this one. I’m so glad that you got invested in the story!

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              • At 2012.07.17 11:46, Melissa said:

                I agree that this was a wonderful audiobook; however, I knew I was going to like it. I loved all the pop culture references and can’t tell you how many times I said “I loved that game!” or “That’s was best show!”

                • At 2012.07.17 13:32, Melissa said:

                  I loved it too! I was worried the hype would be too much, but it’s so good.

                  • At 2012.07.21 22:13, Laurie C said:

                    I liked it a lot, too, even though I probably missed a bunch of the references and didn’t know who Wil Wheaton was before I started it, except that he was the audiobook narrator. (Shocking, I know. My only excuse is that I’m not very good about knowing names of actors.)

                    • At 2012.07.22 09:43, Heather said:

                      YAY!! I loved this one too, and I went into it thinking the 80’s references would be lost on me since I was born in the early 80’s, but they totally were not! I embraced every single thing about this book and I agree about Wheaton – he was absolutely perfect for the audio!

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                      • At 2012.07.29 21:32, Emily said:

                        I know. I know! I read so many glowing reviews of this and thought for sure I would feel only ho-hum about it, but then I found myself totally loving it. Most of the ’80s references went right over my head, but I didn’t care. It was still a fun read.

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                        • At 2014.04.07 04:01, Monday Mini ~ The Martian by Andy Weir said:

                          […] do not read Science Fiction. That I loved Ready Player One and Redshirts I attribute to the power of audiobooks and just how much darn fun Wil Wheaton is as […]

                          • […] talking about how I am not a fan of most audiobooks and they both, along with Jennifer of the blog Literate Housewife, said Wheaton’s rendering of Ready Player One was one of their favorites (click on the links […]

                            • At 2016.02.17 17:19, Brian Krespan said:

                              I’ve been meaning to grab this. Thanks for the review! I’m trying to connect to other audiobook reviewers like myself 🙂

                              (Required, will not be published)

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