Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Publisher: Arrow Books (2012)

First Published:  2011

From Goodreads:

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?

Two things:  I am a child of the ’80s – I was actually born in 1972, the same year as Halliday, the creator of the Oasis in Ready Player One.  Second thing: I am not a “gamer”.  I probably would be if I was any good at computer games, but I am completely useless.  I am amazed by the creativity and imagination that goes into these games though – my son has a Playstation 4 and the graphics are truly amazing!   So what I’m trying to say is, yes, I identified with the whole 80’s aspect of this book but not so much with the gaming aspect, and it truly didn’t matter!

Ready Player One is a a great novel, whether you were lived through the 80s, are an avid gamer or have never picked up a joystick in your life.  I think it probably did help that I understood and identified with all the 80s references, which brought back a lot of fun memories, but the characters and storyline are so engaging that I don’t think it matters when you were born.

I really loved the characters in this book and could totally understand why anyone would want to escape to the Oasis in the world described.  I particularly loved how the female characters were portrayed – girls have a reputation for being pretty useless at games and I’m sure this must irk the girl gamers out there! But in Ready Player One the girls are kick-ass strong characters who can certainly show the boys a thing or two!  All the characters have been through some pretty tough times in an austere world-gone-wrong, in an all too believable future!

This was a definite 5 star read for me right the way through …. until the end where I felt let down hugely by Mr Cline!  No spoilers, but I really wanted things to turn out a little differently from what I thought was the predictable ending, but that is my only tiny quibble.  

I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone!  If you like adventure stories and stories about people overcoming adversity, give this one a go!

Thoughts: We Were Liars by E Lockhart

I always approach hyped books with some trepidation, YA hyped books even more so. They rarely seem to agree with me. So I was a little hesitant to borrow this one off my teenage daughter’s shelf. But I’m glad I did.

As with most people, I knew virtually nothing about this book and was happy to go into it blind – I knew it was set in summer, based around 4 teenagers and one of them befalls a terrible accident. That’s about the level of detail I like anyway, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest, although I do understand those reviewers asking why all the secrecy …

Anyway, I really enjoyed this story. It was a quick read, I really had no idea how it would turn out (I rarely do! I must be dim :)). I was intrigued and for the first time I can remember I actually physically literally came out in goosebumps! Definitely worth the couple of hours of your time this will take to read.

4 stars

December Reads

Here’s my roundup of reading in December! I actually managed to read 10 books in December! I am astounded by that but so excited to have found my reading mojo again! Most of these were Young Adult books and one was a re-read.

Firstly, I went to the library (why??) and picked up three Young Adult books that I’d heard much talk about.  I read Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher first.  This was interesting and quite sad read about a teenage girl who has done a terrible thing, feels terribly guilty and ends up writing to a murder on death row.  I enjoyed this and gave it 4/5 star.

I then read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.  I had heard so much hype about this book, and it is being made into a movie (or may already be out, I’m not sure) and I was expecting great things.  I should know better!  This was a real struggle to get through, I found it really slow going and not much really happened at all.  A disappointing 2/5!

After that I felt I needed a bit of a break from YA books and picked up Joyland by Stephen King.  I had high hopes for this book – not one of his horror books as such, but more a murder mystery set in a theme park which I thought sounded really interesting.  It was ok, the characters were good, but the plot itself was a little thin.  Just a 3/5 stars.

Next up was another book I’d heard so much about from watching bookish types on YouTube … Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.  Apart from anything else … what a gorgeous cover! Behold!

This sounded really interested.  It follows the story of a girl who is locked up in prison because she is too dangerous … she kills people simply by touching them.  This one didn’t disappoint me.  I really enjoyed this story and will definitely be reading the other books in this series (I think it is a trilogy, with 2 in-betweeny novellas).  4/5 stars!

I then won a book in a Goodreads giveaway, World After by Susan Ee, but it is the second in a series so I had to buy the first – Angelfall.  This was an action-packed dystopian novel about evil angels and was an interesting take on the subject.  I enjoyed it and gave it 4/5.

Back to the library books after that, and I read The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.  A book about aliens.  I’d heard a lot about this one, but to be honest I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it at all.  However, it was a really great read and I will definitely pick up the sequel when it comes out.  Another 4/5!

Christmas was then approaching, and I wasn’t feeling too festive, so I picked up Let It Snow – three short, intertwined stories by Lauren Myracle, John Green and Maureen Johnson.  This was a fun read, I enjoyed all the stories and gave this 4/5 stars too.

The world of angels was then calling to me again, so I picked up World After by Susan Ee, the second in the series.  It picked up right where Angelfall finished, and I enjoyed this just as much as the first book.  4/5!

Another Christmassy read came next – Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.  I really enjoyed this one and it succeeded in making me feel a little bit festive 🙂  4/5 stars.

After all that reading, and after Christmas, I was after something familiar that wouldn’t require too much concentration and brain power, so I picked up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling.  I haven’t re-read this series for a while, and I really enjoyed this one again.  The whole series is just the best thing ever and gets a 5/5 from me!

So that was December!

What did you read in December?