Ready Player One
Written by Ernest Cline
Narrated by Wil Weaton
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
A fellow friend of the nerd variety recommended this book… and boy, am I glad he did. Ready Player One grabs you by the seat of your pants and does not let you go. Imagine Willy Wonka meets The Matrix, you get Ready Player One. Before he died, the creator of the OASIS, a virtual reality world, set up a contest. Whoever could find his ‘easter egg’ (think hidden secret) located somewhere in the simulation, would inherit his company and vast fortune. To solve the clues, players have to know pop culture from the 70s and 80s. Set in a dystopian future, this adventure follows Wade Watts, as he works with his friends to win that contest, all while minions from an evil corporation attempt to do the same.
Those of us who grew up in the age of the Atari 2600, Commodore 64 and Nintendo will find much to like here. As the main character works his way through the puzzles and contests, the pop culture references come fast and furious. Yet, even those lacking in knowledge will find that the adventure itself has plenty of excitement and edge-of-the-seat moments. My wife, who listened to the book with me, couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Every chapter seemed to raise the stakes just a bit more. At a few points, I even heard her cheering for the protaganist.
A few elements took away from our overall enjoyment, however. Primarily, the ending felt a bit rushed. We would have enjoyed another chapter wrapping things up a bit more, or an epilogue. Also, some of the relationships felt a bit…cliché. The story of one of the supporting characters made my wife and I groan. While I will not go into details for fear of spoilers, it feels like another attempt to force a political viewpoint into a story…and one that does not feel organic. Thankfully, the author does not spend too much time on this point.
With that being said, we still enjoyed the ride quite a bit, and can recommend it to any of our friends. It’s a relatively short, self contained, exciting adventure for the entire family. If you enjoy older pop/nerd culture, you will feel right at home, here. If you opt for the audible version, rest assured that Wil Weaton does a great job bringing this story to life. I would love to hear him again. 4/5 Stars