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?
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 Wade. I 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.