Monday, January 2, 2012

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline — 384 pgs

A Couple’s Review

Wade Watts is your average Joe, living in a future that has been so degraded and damaged that the only escape for most is to log into the virtual world of the OASIS and live out their lives there. In the OASIS, the rules of the real world don’t apply. You can be whomever or whatever you want, do things that are impossible in the real world, and perhaps even escape your hellish life. The OASIS, created by genius James Halliday, is the only bright spot to Wade’s existence. Since the day Halliday died there has been a serious competition underway. Halliday has hidden an “Easter egg” (a hidden message or item) inside the virtual world and everyone is trying to find it. To find the egg will bring untold wealth and power, and for a young man who is anything but powerful and wealthy, the promise of finding the egg is too great to ignore. Wade, along with several other Egg Hunters, known as “Gunters,” has been searching the OASIS for this egg for five years. One day, an unexpected development and a few strokes of luck land Wade smack dab in the center of the competition. Now it’s only a matter of time until the egg is found and control of the OASIS is handed over to the winner. But Wade and his fellow Gunters aren’t the only ones who want the egg; there is a much greater and more powerful force in play that will stop at nothing to get it. Now Wade must decide if he wants to band together with a group of fellow Gunters or go it alone and risk the wrath of some very dangerous individuals. Breathtaking and highly original, this action-packed novel will have readers cheering, even as they marvel at the virtual world that’s being constructed around them.

When the buzz started going around with this book a few months ago, I felt that it would probably be a perfect read for my family because we are all sort of geeky technology lovers, and Lord knows that we would probably go into paroxysms of distress if our Internet was taken away. I decided to give a digital copy of this book to my son and daughter and grab an audio version for myself and my husband to listen to. We shared it over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and thought it would be really fun to write a bit of a joint review. Both Frank and I are big on the 80s, and having grown up during that time period, this book was the perfect choice for us, and as it turns out, the kids loved it as well. This review will be structured a bit differently than most of my others, with both Frank and I having one paragraph to ourselves in order to share our thoughts with you.

Heather: I had a great time with this one, and though there were places where the story moved a little slowly, most of the time I was greatly entertained by all the nerdy little 80s references and the slightly dorky coolness of Wade. I think the choice of Wil Wheaton as narrator was absolutely perfect. He had just the level of energy, inflection and emotion to make this a stellar audio production. While I enjoyed the worldbuilding of the OASIS, I would have loved to see more worldbuilding outside the virtual realm, but really, there was very little to complain about. It had the perfect proportion of action, intrigue and 80s flavor that was able to ensnare me into a nerdy little tangle and get my blood pumping. There wasn’t a lot of predictability to this tale, which I also enjoyed, and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out where Cline was going to lead me and where the story would eventually end up. It was a perfect choice for all those readers who self identify as geeks or nerds.

Frank: Speaking of self-identified geeks... Hello! While not an 80s freak by any means, I did live my teenage years in that decade and I have a lot of fond memories from that time. I’m also something of a technophile, always looking around the corner for the next fantastic technology. This novel was a stunningly adroit melding of those two interests. The OASIS is the ultimate virtual reality: a three-dimensional immersive tactile experience where almost anything is possible. The clues to finding Halliday’s Egg all revolve around 80s trivia, since he himself grew up during that time. Some I was familiar with but a lot was new to me, which created the perfect balance to keep things interesting. In addition to 80s trivia, there’s action, adventure, romance (not too much!) and enough geeky fantasy to keep the most discriminating nerd salivating. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

As you can clearly see by Frank’s reaction to this book, it’s a lot of fun for all types of readers that range through every level of the nerdy spectrum. What Cline was able to accomplish with this story goes way beyond a lot of other dystopians and cyber-themed books I’ve seen. It certainly was an immersive experience, and coupled with the fact that the narrative basically revolved around an immersive universe, everything about this book and these particular readers just gelled. A great read to share with that special geek in your life.

34 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

How fun to hear from both of you! I am the only person in the universe who hasn't yet read this book (well except for the 200 people in front of me on the hold list at the library!) so I'm hoping it will be available to me one of these days!

Andi said...

GREAT idea for your review! This was lots of fun to read. While I had my doubts when I first saw this book popping up in the blogosphere, the more reviews I see of it, the more likely I am to actually try it. It sounds like a good one.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

"A great read to share with that special geek in your life." I LOVE THAT! :)

Hello, Frank! It's great when our significant others like to join us in the reading frenzy that us bloggers have :)

I really need to pick this one up. I've seen quite the buzz about it and it's made a lof of "Best Of" lists for 2011, so clearly I am way behind. Being a self-proclaimed technology-nut myself, it's really no excuse that I haven't read it yet!

Happy New Year to you both! Heather, I hope I'm able to head to the Naples, Florida SIBA event this year so I can see you again!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I listened to this one on audio and LOVED it - even rated it the best audio I listened to all year.

Brooke said...

This one is on my shelf and I'm super excited to read - great review! I'm super jealous that you can share in the book love with your whole family.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think it was one of the best audios of the year for me too. This book was written for me. I lived this. I think it is great that this read was a family event, and it is good to see Frank on here!

bermudaonion said...

What a fun review!! I wasn't so sure about this book going into it, but I loved it too. The 80s references were so much fun and I loved the suspense of it all. I read the book but now wish I'd gotten the audio for Carl and I to listen to together.

Harvee said...

So nice to have the kids participate! Great reviews@

Alison's Book Marks said...

I shared this book with several geeks in my life this past holiday...we travel in packs, you know! Great book, terrific reviews!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

The book's tagline should be "A great read to share with that special geek in your life."

What a fun review from both of you - it's convinced me that READY PLAYER ONE will be a Valentine's Day gift for the special geek in my life :)

Fitra2009 said...

Happy New Years 2012 !!!

Nice articles. I'm just blogwalking and very happy to stop here. And also give you some comment here.

Dont forget to give us some your comment into my blog too.

softdrink said...

Have you guys considered Reamde? It's a little less geeky, but still very technie and a bit more adventurey (and also way longer!).

Jenny said...

I loved your guys's review! I'm thinking Jason and I would probably enjoy this together as well, although I still wonder if I'll love it as much as everyone else. I love that your whole family was able to read and enjoy this though!

Anita said...

I've heard about this book, but now after reading yours, and Frank's review I will be adding it to audio list.
Thanks for sharing Heather.

Steph said...

This is one of the last books that I read in 2011, but of course I still haven't written about it yet! All those plans I had to blog over vacation obviously didn't come to fruition...

I borrowed this one from the library after reading so many reviews that talked about how fun and quick it was to read. Also, who can resist a quest novel? Unfortunately, I wound up feeling pretty underwhelmed by it, largely because I felt the writing was a bit lazy and the storytelling just didn't feel very fresh to me. I think that if I had really spent my formative years in the '80s (rather than being born in the early '80s) I might have liked the book more for its nostalgia factor, but overall it didn't really do much for me. I do love that you and your husband were able to share this one together and enjoyed it so much, though! It's always so lovely when you find a book you can share with your partner!

Stacy at A Novel Source said...

I really do need to pull this one down from my shelves and read it - all the reviews are so fantastic! and I'm a product of the 80s too so I know it would take me back to those parachute pants days.

I really enjoyed hearing both yours and Frank's opinions about this book. How fortunate you are to have a spouse who likes to read with you! Kudos to you Frank!

Happy New Year! I wish you and your family the best for 2012!

Suko said...

I enjoyed this review! Frank's input complemented your thoughts very well. It does sound like this book would appeal to both women and men. Excellent review!

Trisha said...

I really really need to read this one...or listen to it...

Vasilly said...

I loved reading this dual review! Ready Player One is a book I would have easily passed up in the library but after reading your review of it, I think it's one I need to read. It sounds so different from what I'm used to. I hope you guys do more reviews like this in the future. :-)

kelly said...

LOVE the dual review!
Thanks.

@kellysimmons

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Fun review!

Jenners said...

This was so fun!!! I loved your joint review! I tried to get my geek to read this book but he didn't like it (gave up after 10 pages). Urgh!!!!!!!

Stepping Out of the Page said...

Fantastic joined review, it's worked fantastically well! I really want to check out more of your posts, so I'm going to start following you now!

Literary Feline said...

I enjoyed reading your two perspectives! I admit I really wasn't interested in this book the first time I heard about it, but the more reviews I read, the more I am becoming interested. I wonder what my own husband geek might think of this one . . .

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I've been reluctant to read this one but I I'll have to add it to my wish list. Great review!

Aths said...

I am so excited that you and your husband enjoyed this one too! it's one of my favorites last year even though I couldn't relate to a lot of the 80s references. Loved reading your thoughts. I actually found the ending a bit predictable and convenient, but no complaints, it was a wonderful ride.

Beth F said...

I loved hearing from both of you. I own this. Must read it.

Amy said...

I read this book recently and will post a review soon. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did but I found it very entertaining for the most part. One section later in the book irritated me a bit but I'm probably being a little picky.

I love that your entire family read or listened to this book and all loved it!


Thank you for your input Frank! It's nice to hear from you!
Love the Couple's Review idea, Heather!

Meghan said...

I loved hearing from both of you on this one! I adored READY PLAYER ONE and I'm really happy to see that you both enjoyed it.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I love the joint review! How fun to hear from your sweet hubby on this one. :) I have this on my iPod and I definitely plan to get to it soon - first Sandy convinced me, now you! It's meant to be.

Marg said...

I love that you read and reviewed this one together! So much fun.

I know that I have this one out from the library at the moment!

TheBookGirl said...

I love this family review -- and I love even more how your whole family was happy to read the book with you. My husband is a huge reader, but we NEVER read the same books, not even the same kind of books, lol. And while I read to my daughter every day for most of her young life, and she grew up in a house where both of her parents constantly had their nose in a book, now that she is in college, she just doesn't read (for fun -- I have to trust that she's reading her coursework materials).

I had to smile at your comment about what your reaction would be to a loss of the internet -- we have lost the internet, and it wasn't pretty around here till it got restored.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Oh a couple's review! How fun! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it both, it sounds like a very different and refreshing read. I got my copy about a week ago and the Man of the House seemed interested by it, too. Isn't it nice to share some of the books we read with our close ones?

Nymeth said...

Your review has me excited to read this - which I'll be doing so since it's on the ILAs shortlist. Also, love the dialogue format! You should do it more often.

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