Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Audiobook Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

What a great book! Action, adventure, romance. With lots and lots of of I ♥ the 80's: Revenge of the geek.

Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Dystopian adventure SF
Length: 15h 46m
Read by: Wil Wheaton
Audio publisher: Random House Audio, 2011
From: Library OverDrive

Story: The billionaire computer programmer James Halliday dies, and his fortune will go to the person who can find a secret hidden in his virtual reality universe, OASIS. Everyone is on the lookout. Wade has spent the past five years learning everything he can about 80's books, movies, and video games in an effort to uncover a clue to the treasure. He's dedicated. And the 80's are better than his life now.

My thoughts: I grew up in the 80's. I had a TRS-80 Color Computer II, played Zork, and listened to Duran Duran. I even played Dungeons and Dragons. So this book was written for me. The question is, will anyone who didn't grow up in the 80's get anything out of this book? I don't know. Some of the references have withstood time: Star Wars, Indiana Jones. Most haven't. That's what makes them fun. I didn't get the majority of the music or early video game references, and that didn't damper my enjoyment of the story. The most obscure were explained for us newbies without being pedantic. And it's not all 80's. There are Firefly and Matrix shout-outs along with Lord of the Rings.

The book follows Wade, and I loved learning about his life beyond the 80's. The story unfolds like a John Hughes movie with details of the world he lives in, both the real world and in OASIS, uncovered as Wade goes about his daily tasks evading bullies and going to school. The quest to find the treasure steamrolls in and action scenes fill in the gaps. There's even a love interest for variety. Yes, the plot hits each of the standard movie beats, but it moves along fast and I was enjoying it too much to care.

I liked the fact that NOT everyone in Wade's world is crazy about the 80's. Only a small group of people have chosen to dedicate their life to this decade. These people are driven to solve the clues and find the treasure using 80's trivia. I'm so sorry for them. To watch any of these 80's shows now would be torture. They are only good in retrospect.

Reading: I'm apprehensive of celebrity readers. I don't want the person reading to distract from the story, so I was worried when I found out Wil Wheaton read Ready Player One. As soon as the book started, my fears were put to rest. Wil Wheaton's energy and enthusiasm for the material come through. Some of the characters sound a little too similar, especially Wade and H, but since the secondary characters don't say much, it wasn't too a big deal.

Minor pointsFood: The people in Wade's world don't appear to eat meat. It's too expensive and resource-intensive. Forced vegetarianism. It's coming.
Cover: This book has one of the worst covers I've ever seen. It took me several months to pick the book up because the cover is so bad.
Spoiler nit: ****I can't believe that A only had that blemish! I was expecting her to have no legs or be a dwarf or something. I guess she didn't watch any 90's infomercials. Hasn't she heard of Bare Escentuals?

Final thoughts: If you ♥ 80's geekiness, read this book. If you don't...you can still read this book, and we'll talk.

Grade: 5 out of 5

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