Audiobook Review | Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Audiobook Review | Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Audiobook Review | Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One

Written by Ernest Cline
(Random House US - 8/16/2011)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook (15:46)
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Source: Library of Magan Bagan
Rating: 5 Stars

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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 Thoughts

It is REALLY hard for me to collect my thoughts on this book into any sort of reasonable order. You see, I loved this book something fierce. I lost count of how many times I squealed with utter glee, listening to Wil Wheaton’s flawless narration of this gem while driving around in my car. Let me see.

Let’s get this out of the way first: what I didn’t like.

This book starts off slow, and it took quite a long time to convince me that I was going to like it. Over an hour into the narration and nothing had really happened yet, because Wade was still filling me in on all the setup. This turned out to be a lot of info-dumpage, and I was starting to get annoyed.

When things finally started rolling, I was undoubtedly hooked, and I was actually quite glad for all the setup that had to happen before we could really get going. By the end of the book, that 90 minutes of setup seemed so far in the distant past — a mere moment in the grand scheme of things — that I pretty much forgave it. But still. Be ye warned: give it time, because once it gets going, you won’t want it to stop.

One more small note, because I’m a buzzkill: there are some bits that I found a bit hard to believe. Mostly this is in regard to the amount of time Wade supposedly had to research (and memorize) the vast quantities of books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc. But I guess we’ll let that slide. My husband didn’t find it quite as hard to believe as I did.

Now, for all the good stuff (and there is a LOT).

Honestly, folks, I don’t even know how to organize my thoughts here. I just think of this book and it’s like a big OMGGGGGGGG in my brain. Let me try again. With a bullet list.

  • As I already said, the narration is freaking superb. Wil Wheaton was an excellent choice for this job. He’s obviously a gamer and very familiar with much of the pop culture referenced in the book, and this shines through quite evidently in his narration. I was even impressed by his pronunciation of the Japanese names and terms in the book.
  • The overall story is epic, adventurous, and ingenious. I loved every minute of Wade’s adventure. Every obstacle he faced, every person he spoke with, every bit of futuristic technology described. I have no idea how much time Ernest Cline spent researching all of the various pop culture items and references in the book, but it is chock full of nostalgia.
  • As a gamer, this book felt like home. It was easy to understand and visualize a lot of what happened in this book, because it was familiar territory for me. Some of the conversations Wade had with other characters, and some of the situations they got themselves into, had me giggling with delight because they were so spot-on. That being said, it is definitely not a requirement to have any sort of gaming experience to enjoy this book!
  • As a child of the ’80s and ’90s, the pop culture references were a fun bonus. Notice I said bonus. While I did recognize many of the references made in this book (which is always fun, isn’t it?), I still feel like it was written so that those who weren’t alive to experience these things first-hand were not left in the dark. It’s one of those things where you can get all excited when you recognize what he’s talking about, you know?

I don’t even know what else to say. I loved it. I loved this book so much that it’s now one of my top favorites. I made my husband listen to it and he gobbled it up and loved it too (He’s significantly young er than me, from a different generation, and he still enjoyed this despite not recognizing all of the pop culture references — see?)! If you haven’t read this book, please do! And if you like audiobooks, or want to give them a try, this is definitely the one to choose!

Read 25 comments

  1. I totally want to try this but I don’t know if I can ever get a copy. >< I hope I can, but the audiobook's out of the question since I can't ever use my mom's credit card. If I ever do read it, though, I hope that the pop culture references work out. It sucks being out of the loop, no matter how well it's done, like for instance, Rainbow Rowell's Attachments and Eleanor and Park. They weren't important to the plot but I felt like I was missing out on something because I didn't understand some of the things in it. But on the other hand, in Fangirl, I had a great time and I could totally relate because I understood the references.

    So I'm just very wary of references now, because I know how great it is to actually get them.

  2. I was definitely NOT alive in the 80s and I never felt kept in the dark. I think you made a great point about how all those cultural bits were bonuses–none of them left me scratching my head. Even if I didn’t get them, I always felt I had enough details to fill it at least what that pop culture reference was for–a game, a book, a movie, etc.
    Yeah, the info-dumping thing was the only reason this book wasn’t five stars for me(and the convenience factor) but I still really loved it. I enjoyed the audiobook SO much and the narration was fantastic.

    • Yay, I love to hear that the references didn’t hold you back or keep you from understanding/enjoying the story! And good to know I wasn’t the only one annoyed by the info-dump in the beginning. It sucks because I understand the NEED for the info dump, and I don’t really know how they could have done it any better. =/

  3. I’m not much of a fan of audiobooks, but this is one I would love to try. I did read the book and thought it was great, and seeing what Wil Wheaton brings to it would be worth it to at least try to get through the audio.

  4. I love Ready Player One, it was a fantastic read. I was sheltered in the 80s so I didn’t get a lot of the references but I still loved that book. I hope Cline’s newest is just a good, though it doesn’t sound like it is. Wil is a great narrator as well. He did John Scalzi’s Redshirts and did an amazing job with it as well. It was too funny!

    • I’m super excited for his next book too, but I think you’re right, it’s got a lot to live up to! I just heard about Redshirts being narrated by Wil the other day (my co-worker informed me that John Scalzi will be at the local comic convention this weekend — woohoo! ). I really want to get that one now, too. :)

  5. This book was like crack for me. I also listened to the audio book, but i own the hardback too and plan to read it as well. You thought the first 90 minutes was info dump?? I LOVED that setup. So I guess we have a completely different threshold for information overload.

    I agree someone doesn’t have to be a gamer or a 80’s pop culture person to catch and enjoy all these things because he still explains them all very well. But it’s like you said a delight when you find something you recognize. I love this one so hardcore and have been trying to convince my husband to read it and he is so lazy I want to throw the book at him. I even said “why don’t you listen on your way to work then?” “No I want to read it” “So read it” “i don’t have time” – BOLLUX I SAY!

    • Yeah, it definitely felt like an info dump in the beginning. :( I mean, I guess I was expecting more action right away, but for three whole commutes (my drive to/from work is about half an hour), all I got was a bunch of history and setup. That’s a long time to wait before things start actually HAPPENING.

      OMG your husband needs to READ IT! I convinced my husband to read it, and he listened to the whole thing while playing Path of Exile and he loved it!!

  6. I realllly want to read this book, haha! Or listen to the audiobook because, hey! It’s Wil Wheaton. :P

    It’s a good thing that I’ll still be able to enjoy this book despite not being a 80’s kid, because some of those pop-culture references might just fly over my head.

    I shall pick this book up sometime, and power through that info-dump! :)

  7. Loooooove! I’m going to listen to it again soon. Probably after I start playing WoW (I’m a sucker, what can I say? Plus.. must collect ALL the pets!)

    I’m not really an 80s kid, was born in 88 so missed most of it.. But I still recognized and loved most of the pop culture.

    I’ve told so many people that they must read this book!

  8. I just finished reading this yesterday and I really enjoyed it too! I agree with you, the start is slow, but once you get to page 75ish, then it really starts to take off and it’s a pretty wild ride :) My review for this book will be up next Wednesday!

  9. I finally had to look up who Wil Wheaton is. I hear his name everywhere and had no idea why he was so well known! Besides that though, this book sounds fun especially if the 80s references are done right. Sometimes pop culture references pull me out of a story, but it doesn’t sound like the case here!

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