READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

This book was, for me, one of those special reads.  I could barely put it down.  Bought it at a little indie bookstore on Mackinac Island (The Island Bookstore) with the intention of getting to it someday.  Well, my son read the description and started it, and he could barely put it down. I finished what I was reading  and picked it up a couple of days ago.  And that was it.  Every spare minute I had I grabbed the book and read.  Finished it this morning between patients, and I have to say that it kept me sucked into the story the whole time. Anyone read it? It's dystopian, in that the real world has devolved into a dirty, poverty-stricken dump.  Wade, the first-person hero of the book, lives in something called "the Stacks" which are vertical trailer parks.  Made me think of the way they park cars in NYC (we don't do 'em like that in Chicago) where you pull into an elevator of sorts and they hoist your car to the top, then put one under you, and another, and finally, the one on the ground.  They stack up the trailers (even some VW minibuses) in metal frameworks, and people live in them.  Cheap and efficient, but not very desirable. Wade's truly happy in the OASIS, a massive virtual world where humanity more or less conducts their lives in this depressing world.  It was designed by a computer nerd named James Halliday, who recently died (at the beginning of the book) and has set into motion a huge on-line quest, the winner of which will get his vast fortune and control of his company.  An evil corporate entity, IOI, wants to win, and is  hiring the best people they can hire to find this Easter egg, and they will literally stop at nothing, including murder, to get there first.  But the true "best" egg hunters, known as 'gunters,' are guys like Wade and others who by some combination of luck and brains, find the first key after 5 years of no one having a bit of success in locating it. I loved the 80's references (and 70's references; a lot of the movies and songs and even video games seem to be from the later 1970s as well as the 80's) and I loved the characters, and I loved the suspense of seeing how Wade and his compatriots would defeat the evil corporation and find the final key and win the game.  Plus, there was the added suspense about just who some of these gunters are.  I mean, all Wade ever sees is their on-line personas, and he clearly believes that it is enough to know whether he can trust them and be friends with them. I liked the message at the end.  It felt right. I don't know if it's a great book, but for me, it WAS a great book, one I'll probably read again someday. *****

3 thoughts on “READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

  1. Steven M. Moore

    Scott,
    From your description, this seems very much like S. G. Redling’s Flowertown. You and your son might like that one too.
    The “evil corporation” concept has become a bit overused. Capitalism in general is out of control, but I don’t think corporations really want to kill anyone–they need customers!
    Of course, bad “accidents” can happen–the BP oil spill, for example–so it’s always possible that a company by trying to maximize profits creates a real disaster. The recent Southwest computer snafu showed that chaos can occur just by using sixties computer technology!
    r/Steve

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  2. Scott Dyson Post author

    FLOWERTOWN sounds interesting, I may grab it and read it. It’s priced at $4.99, which is a little higher than I like to spend for something I don’t know much about without a strong recommendation. Would you say you’d recommend it strongly? 🙂

    READY PLAYER ONE takes place mostly in an online world, with occasional forays into the real world. The hero is more or less a computer hacker, though he is not a reckless lawbreaker in most senses. There isn’t much “adult” stuff in the plot. The “evil corporation” angle is present (maybe in Flowertown as well?) but they don’t see themselves as evil. They just want to monetize the entire OASIS instead of just the parts that they can monetize at the time of the book. In order to do so, they need to take it over, and winning Halliday’s contest will allow them to do just that. Gamers like the main character and a couple of friends of his want the OASIS to remain free, along with tons of other gamers. Therein lies the conflict between the corporation and the “little guys.” They will stop at nothing, as long as they can get away with it without blowback on their corporation, to win this race.

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  3. Steven M. Moore

    Scott,
    No excuses…I missed your first paragraph. Sorry.
    Yes, $4.99 is a wee bit high–generally the max I’ll pay for an ebook these days. I confess I probably bought Flowertown on sale or as a free download. Still, it was a pleasant surprise. I’ve read two of Redling’s books–this is the best of the two. It’s gritty stuff (mature kids maybe can handle it, though) with a tough female MC. Lots of other great characters too. Both Wool and this one came out in 2012, so maybe one influenced the other–they’e similar, but this one is a lot more connected (Howey’s piecemeal pubbing almost ruined continuity).
    Should you read it? Maybe not for $4.99, but keep it in mind at least.
    After Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Neuromancer, my bar for computer-oriented tales is high, so I’ll pass on Ready Player for a while. I’ll put it on my TBRR-list, though.
    r/Steve

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