Review: "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline

This is WebGenii with an audio book review for Dragon Page Cover to Cover.

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This is a review of “READY, PLAYER ONE” by Ernie  Cline. Published in paperback by Broadway  in June 2012. Amazon Canada has it listed for $17.00.

This review is for any one of the six people out there in Dragon Page Cover to Cover land that haven't read this book.  I know you are out there.

Before I get started with my review of READY, PLAYER ONE, let me state my admiration for the publicity campaign surrounding it. This campaign has generated rapturous reviews all over the blogosphere and multiple author interviews on numerous podcasts. It's a little intimidating to review a book that has been so widely (and positively) reviewed. For authors, I think it would be useful to study this campaign and see what has made it so successful.

If you haven't read any of the reviews for READY, PLAYER ONE, here is the thumbnail sketch: It's 2044 and the world is suffering from a profound financial and environmental meltdown. Our hero, Wade Watts is an eighteen year old kid, who unsurprisingly prefers to spend his time in the on-line environment named OASIS. When the designer of OASIS dies, a massive virtual treasure hunt begins to locate a key that will allow the owner to control the OASIS.

The plot provides convenient hooks to mention all sorts of 80's pop culture references. 1980's TV shows, games and movies are all used to provide clues to the puzzles that our hero has to solve. It is these references that are at the heart of the ecstatic response that many reviewers have had to this book.

My response is not quite the same. Look, there was nothing wrong with READY, PLAYER ONE -- it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.  But the emotional response that so many people have had to this book, just wasn't there for me.  And the reason?  I'm about 5 years out of the age range targeted by the book.  I'm aware of the TV shows, games and movies the book uses for references, but they were just not that important to me because I was at a different phase in life.

So I'm reading the book without getting that fanboy fueled boost every time one of "my" pop culture hooks is used.  And you know what? The book stands up without them.  Although I admit I enjoyed the parts of the book where Wade is interacting with the real world more than when he is using his 80's knowledge on-line.

I've spent a lot of time since I read the book, mulling over the impact of nostalgia on the relationship between the reader and a novel.  Does it mean that READY, PLAYER ONE will have a shorter or longer lifespan because of nostalgia? Will the 80's pop culture alienate readers that might have otherwise enjoyed the book? Does the love that READY, PLAYER ONE has received say something about geek culture's relationship to mainstream society? I have solved none of these questions.  What I will say is that READY, PLAYER ONE is enjoyable regardless of your age group, and that you probably should read it because I think it's due to become a pop culture meme in it own right.

So, please check out READY, PLAYER ONE, recommended to you by WebGenii.

Ready Player One by Ernie Cline
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (August 16, 2011)
ISBN - 10: 030788743X
ISBN - 13: 978-0307887436

About WebGenii

WebGenii is a SF book nerd and all-round geek.