Audiobook Review: Ready Player One

reviews

rploneReady Player One, Ernest Cline (2010)
Read by Will Wheton (2012)

Goodreads Rating 4.3
Audible Rating 4.7

A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize.

Are you ready?

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based on Halliday’s obsession with 80s pop culture. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

I have read books before that I have loved, and I have listened to a few amazing audiobooks as well, but I don’t know that I have ever had the pleasure of a book as awesome as Ready Player One.

This book is just so, so great.  The characters are just amazing.  They are what made this book for me.  Well, them and the writing and the story and the pacing and the detail.  Oh, my God, the detail.  Not only is the OASIS made of pure awesome (the Firefly universe is right next door to the Star Wars universe – and did I mention Azeroth has joined the party, too?  And Deloreans, and giant robots, and oh my God, if you’re any kind of geek you will love it.)  I’m no aficionado of 80’s pop culture, but even I can appreciate the thought that went into all of the games and movie references and songs and décor – décor! – and it was all so well planned and executed that I honestly can’t fault it.  And how all of that was seamlessly incorporated into the book, like the acting out of ENTIRE FILMS?  Brilliant.

There is also the amazing yet kind of creepy feeling of having your own present day be spoken about as if it were history.  It was decades ago, in fact.  And it is done so convincingly, that I’m all but nodding along to Wade’s storytelling before I remember that I’m listening to a story and that only half of what he’s telling me has actually happened.  The other half rings so true, the worldwide energy crisis, the escape into the online world of the OASIS, that I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.  And in addition to all of that, most of the story isn’t actually happening.  Wade is sat in his immersion chair and everything that happens is happening on screen, in the OASIS. Like when Wade is sitting on the hill outside by his school?   I was reading it, picturing it so vividly, and then it all fell apart as I remembered that he wasn’t outside at all.   Crazy.

Wheaton’s performance is great, too.  He’s got the frustration come excitement of Wade’s life down, and the speed at which he reads is perfect.  He voices all of the characters in such a way that I could see them all so distinctly and I think that this really enhanced the characters and the reading experience for me.  It was such an awesome thing, to listen to him telling me the story, but a part of me wishes that I had maybe read the book for myself.  This is, of course, something that I can easily remedy.

shortfive

I absolutely bloody loved this book.  I’m going to go right out and buy a physical copy of the book and sit on my hands to stop myself from starting right back at page one immediately.  Hand down, the coolest book I’ve ever read.  It appealed to me on so many levels and if it sounds like you’re kind of thing; read it.  Read it now.

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