Ready Player One: A Novel

Paperback | June 5, 2012

byErnest Cline

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In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
   But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

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From the Publisher

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades p...

ERNEST CLINE has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone.  His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.9 inPublished:June 5, 2012Publisher:Crown/ArchetypeLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307887448

ISBN - 13:9780307887443

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Review From Aphonic Sarah I have heard about this book for a LONG time, and I was so excited to pick it up for my Book Clubs November book! However, I started it, and I finished it before November. It made my inner geek squeal with excitement, with it's many references to SO many video games, movies, music. Everything from Star Wars, Star Trek, Monty Python, Footloose, Howard the Duck, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club. The list is endless. This book is so full of geek, that my heart burst from happiness. I loved it SO much, and I know its one I am going to be reading over and over again in the upcoming months. It is one of the first books in a long time, that has made me want to dive into it, and be inside it. I want to be a gunter, can we please make this possible? This amazing dystopian takes place in 2044, in a world where everything has gone to hell, and the people in the world live in virtual reality more than they do life. OASIS - A free-to-play video game, was created by a man named James Halliday. It is a virtual reality game where the entire world lives, on a daily basis. Everything from shopping, and schooling happen in the game, making it an easy way to escape the world which is ruined around them. Any world you can think of is reachable in game, including Azeroth from World of Warcraft, and buildings such as the Tyrell building from the Blade Runner movie. After passing away, Halliday puts an Easter egg in game, and tells the world to go hunting for it. The first person to find it - would win his entire net worth. And control of the OASIS. 'Gunters' ( egg hunters ) are people who spend every day of their lives, hunting for the egg that lies hidden in the game. Among them, is an 18 year old orphan named Wade, Who goes by the name Parzival in the OASIS. The hunt had been going for five years straight, with no one finding the first key, making the hunt slow down with each passing year of no success. When Wade finds the first of three keys needed to unlock the egg, the hunt for the egg becomes rekindled, and everyone who wanted it before, wants it now more than ever. One corporation in particular, IOI (Innovative Online Industries), is trying to get their hands on the egg. If they succeed, the world and game will be changed, and not for the better. Now, with the help of his friends Art3mis, Aech, Daito and Shoto, Wade must try and prevent the egg from getting into the hands of the wrong people. Using the hints left behind by Halliday, Wade and his friends fight to solve the puzzle, having one amazing adventure along the way, in an amazing geek-filled world. Just writing this review, makes me want to run and reread this book, right now. I loved it. The connections made in this, between so many Fandoms, is absolutely amazing. I recommend it to anyone who loves the 80's, video games, and anything else geeky you can think of!
Date published: 2016-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from On of the best books I have ever read! Wow. Just wow. I enjoyed every last bit of this book. The references, the detail, the unique and creative storyline. This should be on everyone's must read list. I had been meaning to read this for a long time and I finally had the opportunity when one of my best friends had an extra copy that she let me borrow. My only regret is that I didn't read this sooner. Ready Player One is completely original and unique. I haven't read anything like this and I think it was the perfect story to introduce me to the science fiction genre. I have always wanted to get into science fiction and fantasy and I was never really sure where to start. I've read other stories within this genre and none have ever really grabbed me. Ready Player One has definitely changed that. I think that the blurb on the front cover of this book describes it perfectly. "Willy Wonka meets The Matrix." The idea of a worldwide hunt for the billions of dollars inside a simulated world called OASIS, left behind by the man who created it, is just such a unique and interesting concept. The thought that went into this novel is unreal. Everything was thoroughly crafted and detailed. There were no holes left in the story and I didn't question a single moment. This was an insanely fast paced read and absolutely nothing dragged on. The references within this book are fantastic. Although I wasn't alive during the 80's, I grew up with parents who experienced the amazing decade while they were in their 20s. I grew up listening to the music and watching the movies that were popular during that decade. I feel very proud to say that I understood quite a lot of the movie and music references. I was very pleased with myself when I recognized Sorrento's employee ID number to be the same as Alex DeLarge's inmate number from A Clockwork Orange which felt like more of an easter egg than an actual movie reference. Some of my other favourite references were those that mentioned The Breakfast Club, Back To The Future, Billy Idol & Rush. Although I recognized many of the movie and music references, I will admit I was a little lost when it came to the video game references. I've never been a big gamer, but it was cool to learn about the games that were popular at the time. As if the story wasn't amazing enough, the characters and the thought that went into each one added a whole new dimension to it. Our main protagonist Wade a.k.a. Parzival a.k.a. Z was extremely relatable as young teenager living in a futuristic world where much of the population is poor. I found myself rooting for him throughout the entire novel as he was such a humble person that would definitely use the money and fame to do good for the broken planet Earth. Of course, there are others who are competing for the money and fame. We have other young and bright kids like Aech, Art3mis, Shoto & Daito. Aech is Parzival's best friend within OASIS. Not much is revealed about Aech outside of OASIS and his true identity is carefully kept a secret. Atr3mis is female avatar that Parzival meets on his hunt for the prize. They instantly have a connection, but both Parzival and Art3mis are hesitant about simulated relationships especially during a hunt that requires their full attention and concentration. Shoto and Daito are two brothers that we also meet on this epic journey. Throughout the story, you find yourself hoping that one of these kids, whether it be Parzival or his fellow competitors, will be the ultimate victor. Unfortunately, there are other competitors known as Sixers who are part of a large organization that is trying to win the prize by cheating. This story contains just the right amount of characters to keep the hunt a fun, exciting and nail biting adventure. This book is something I believe everyone should read in their lifetime. I believe it is an accurate representation of what could be our future. Maybe not in terms of a huge online simulated world, but in the way that we all spend the majority of our time staring into a screen. I don't how many more times I can say how unique and compelling this story was, but I can honestly say that I could not put it down and that is a definite first for me and the science fiction genre.
Date published: 2015-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Score Achieved!!! This book is now placed alongside some of my favorite books of all time like Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, etc. I now classify as Artifacts, and when reading the book you'll know what the properties of an Artifact is - ;-). I don't ordinarily do second reads, but THIS book will definitely get it! The detail that the author went through to meticulously note classic games, music and movies within the books reference was pretty impressive. I couldn't help but feel excited and drawn in with the main characters progress and final EPIC BATTLE!!! If you enjoy classic games, music and movies, you owe it to yourself to read this book.
Date published: 2015-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great story! One of the best books I've read in a while. I had low expectations but this book seriously surpassed them. Highly recommend this one.
Date published: 2015-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easily one of my new favorites! My brother has been trying to get me to read this book and I had no interest. Then one of the awesome ladies at Coles handed it to me saying it was a must read. Skeptical that I would like it I started reading and finished it in two evenings! I could not put it down! This book is so well written you feel as if you are right there with the main characters! Definitely worth the read!
Date published: 2015-09-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty Hyped but Worth The Read I received a copy of this book in my LootCrate and was really excited because: 1. I got my LootCrate and 2. Geeky books! And when I started reading, I was only semi-impressed. I found the first bit flat and boring but once it picked up speed I really enjoyed it. I also thought there was a bit of a lag in between the climax and the final conflict. I liked the 80s reference as I am a huge fan of 80s pop culture, but at the same time it tended to be too much some times. It was as if Cline wanted to show off just how much he knew about 80s culture rather than use these as an actual plot point. But it still was a lot of fun. I liked the actual "game play" and the insights into the world outside. I thought there was a lot of good world building for both inside the game and why the game could even exist. I liked the idea that gamers could rule the world but at the same time there were consequences of this as well. There was a side character that was LGBTQ+ diverse but I am not sure it was enough for me in terms of diversity. Overall: 4/5 stars for this one. If you read and liked The Eye of Minds by James Dashner, you will also like this one.
Date published: 2015-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite Book I absolutely loved this book. Romance, action, dystopian, sci-fi, conspiracy... Blew my mind!!
Date published: 2015-05-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Over hyped book I won't bother condensing the story as you can read the synopsis or another review below that covers it. There have been good things said about this book but I was so disappointed with it. A big draw is that is has... stuff mentioned from the 80s. Which is fine if the story incorporated that time better than simply dropping names. Constantly. I was beyond annoyed at the repeated mention of 80s video games. Music is touched on a tiny bit but it is pretty much just naming off games. Very 80s... The story itself is rudimentary, and the writing is beyond bad. I really don't know how this book has such good reviews. I assume it was people reading it who saw names like JOUST and PAC MAN and feel some kind of connection with those names. If that is the case you would be better off writing those names on a sheet of paper and just reading that. You could skip this book altogether. "The energy blade cut into its metal skin as if it were tofu.." I winced when I was reading some parts of this book it is that bad. Young readers might enjoy this book more than I did. But then I think that defeats the 80s name dropping purpose of the book.
Date published: 2015-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cant put it down! Got this book only today and am already almost finished its an amazing book that keeps you immersed in the fantasy of it all.
Date published: 2015-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Thrilling Scify/Dystopian Novel "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline a science fiction/dystopian tale with a large dollop of intrigue is one of the best novels that I've read in 2015. It begins in the chaos of 2044 where Wade Watts spends every wakening moment in the virtual world of OASIS. In a network developed by James Halliday, a deceased videogame designer more at home inside his surreal landscape than in reality, Wade like other lone players -gunters- hunt a dream, an Easter egg worth millions hidden in a complex web of computer-generated puzzles. When he solves the riddle of the "First Gate" Wade is propelled into stardom to find hundreds joining the quest, and hunted by the IOI a ruthless global communications conglomerate and mega Internet service provider who wants him dead. After a murder shatters any stability in Wade's life, he begins a chase for the prize that means formulating a dangerous plan, pooling his resources, and discovering friends and love beyond his virtual existence. Ernest Cline sets the stage for this mesmerizing tale on an earth devastated by climate change, an energy crisis, poverty, hunger and wars. In a world of social and cultural upheaval people spend their days in the OASIS, a cheap, safe and legal stimulation system designed by James Halliday. Although it's claimed to be non-addictive people like Wade escape their troubles, heartache and anxiety within the virtual landscape, existing alone and isolated from reality. As this unique and imaginative plot opens the reader is swept away to the world of Wade Watts (aka Parsival) who goes to school on the planet Lupus in the OASIS environment, dreaming about Halliday's prize as he obsessively studies everything he can about the 80's and a pop culture that the designer loved and used as the basis for his puzzle design. With high-powered action as Wade and his friends race through a gauntlet of adventures before the "Sixers" employees of Innovative Online Industries (IOI) can destroy their avatars the author builds suspense and intensity. Even though the mood of the plot often swings between the excitement and competitive fervour of the quest, the violence of an online war and the hopelessness of a thwarted romance, the elements of friendship, unconditional acceptance and love permeate the pages of this captivating story. In this page turner the author has created complex, realistic and unforgettable characters like Wade Watts who lives with a malnourished, harpy after the death of his parents. Fleeing the abuse of her boyfriend he hides in the "stacks" losing himself in his obsession with James Halliday and a hunt for the "ultimate prize". Wade's a shy, aloof eighteen year old; a highly intelligent, clever geek and formidable gamer who discovers love and friendship can extend into the real world. Art3mis a skilled competitor masks her insecurity and lack of self-esteem in the real world behind the cocky adeptness and resourcefulness of her avatar. As her relationship with Parsival grows stronger, her uncertainty amplifies preferring to meet him in competition rather than on a more personal level. Of the other characters that add their brand of passion, energy and drama to the story; Aech Parsival's best friend is enigmatic and elusive; Shoto the young Japanese avatar, inventive and loyal; Ogden Morrow a shrewd and insightful businessman; and James Halliday,the socially inept,reclusive but eccentric genius. But it's the cold hearted, calculating, power-hunger of Nolan Sorrento and the IOI that lend a chill to the story. I loved "Ready Player One" which came highly recommended by friends. An apocalyptic story with a twist and characters who are damaged but brilliant, I will not only suggest it to others but will look for other novels by Ernest Cline.
Date published: 2015-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For teens and till 90+.Excellent book. You cannot stop reading until you finished For teens+.Excellent book. You cannot stop reading until you finished. Interesting idea. A mix of reality and video game world.
Date published: 2015-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from this is Atari and Acid wash jeans good Keeps you going, and going I couldn't put it down, A unique story and wonderfully written
Date published: 2014-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The 80's called and want you to buy this book! If you like the 80's, video games, movies or in anyway are a geek YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK! Great book! I could not put it down. Please for the sake of humanity you have to read it.
Date published: 2014-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite I read this book about a month ago. I enjoyed it so much that I just had to buy it. I absolutely loved that the book revolved around the virtual world and 80's pop culture. I also liked the authors writing style. I've told friends about the book who all agree it is on their list of favourites as well.
Date published: 2014-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect for gamers & children of the 80`s The Good Stuff The first page had me hooked in and I knew this book was going to be absolutely a perfect fit for me As a child of the 80's - the references were bang on and made me laugh and reminiscence about a time when there was no stress and my biggest worry was how I could make Mike Tinker love me (he never did the poor guy, but than again I would have bored the heck out of him - but I still would have liked to kiss him just once) The story is perfect for geeks who lived through the 80's and quite frankly even for gamers who weren't even born then USA today nailed it with the description "Willy Wonka meets The Matrix" Rush's 2112 is a key plot point - Rush was also very much part of my life during the 80's. My brother was a HUGE Rush fan and often forced me to listen to them. Ended up learning to love them and have become a huge fan myself Quotes from Ghostbusters & Airplane used in everyday conversation Recommended reading for those trying to find the keys included Scalzi, Adams, Gaiman, King and Bradbury - how can you not love this book even if you are only a fan of one of the authors listed (and I am a fan of all of those gifted writers -- yes King is a gifted author - he just needs an editor that will reign him in) Fast paced and funny with a lot of twists and turns that will keep you guessing Likeable characters, I dare you not to love Wade and Aech I couldn't imagine Og as played by anybody other than Jeff Bridges I will be selling this one at work -- well as long as I know the customer would appreciate it. There is nothing more satisfying than putting the right book in the right hands Halliday had excellent taste in books, movies and tv shows - almost all mentioned were some of my favorites of all time (and yes I too loved Ladyhawke) Sector Eleven was called the Whedonverse - yes I did squee when I read that (also mentions the ship is a cross between a Firefly class ship and was named Kaylee) After Jenn told me about the audio edition being read by Wil Wheaton, I downloaded it the next day The Not So Good Stuff As a mom I was a little disturbed by the lack of connection between people and the fact that they are ok with living with very little human touch. I understand that in the world the characters lived in, this was safe. But I was disturbed with how our world is now, that this kind of future could come into being. I love my social media, but I would much rather be sitting down in a room with people I care about communicating with them without technology. And definitely some wine - you cannot appreciate that online Some of the computer game references totally lost on me - but hey I am not a true nerd ; ) Favorite Quotes/Passages "The once-great country into which I'd been born now resembled its former self in name only. It didn't matter who was in charge. Those people were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and everyone knew it." "It was also time to elect the President and VP of the OASIS User Council, but it was a no brainer. Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Will Wheton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick butt (edited because of language) job of protecting user rights for over a decade." "When I reached the bar, I ordered a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster from the female Klingon bartender and downed half of it."
Date published: 2013-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Most Entertaining Book I've read in Years! A MUST READ WOW, where do I begin with this book. Action, humour, romance, drama and great, great story. Though this is a Science fiction book, I really think it could appeal to so many different people. Any one who loves the '80s will love this book automatically. Where William Gibson revolutionized science fiction with the Cyber-Punk of Neuromancer, Ernest Cline has taken it one step further with this 'Virtual Reality' adventure. It's essentially a futuristic scavenger hunt but the story is smart, with good twists and a pace that's fun and keeps you wanting to read on. I can't say enough about how good this book is compared to other books I've read this year. You simply have to read it to know how good it is! 5 STARS for sure
Date published: 2013-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I was in a Chapters store a few weeks ago where they have a shelf of employees' favourites, including a review by the employee on their favourite book. The review for Ready Player One stood out and as I was reading the back cover, an employee came up and said how great the book was and that he'd written the review for it. He said it was the only time he's ever finished a book and immediately turned it over to start again. After reading RPO, I can say that I was very tempted to do the same thing! What a great read! It started off a bit slow (for the first 30-50 pages) and I wasn't sure I was going to love it, but it suddenly picked up a lot. It was fast-paced with lots of great 80s references. Ready Player One is set in 2045, a time when people spend the majority of their days in a very realistic computer game called the OASIS. When the creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves a hint to a quest to find an egg. The first person to find the egg wins $640 billion, his entire empire. RPO follows Wade (or Parzival, as his avatar is known) on his quest to find the egg. Some parts are funny, some parts are sad and some are suspenseful. If you're a fan of dystopian novels as I am (or even if you aren't), I really recommend this book! It's a great, fun read. I can't wait for Ernest Cline to put out another book!
Date published: 2012-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great fun! Movie buffs, video game aficionados and anyone nostalgic for the 80s will get a kick out of Ernest Cline's debut novel Ready Player One. Its 2044 and the world has turned into a terribly depressing place, the recession never ended and the energy crisis has all but depleted Earth's resources. To escape, almost the entire population "plugs in" to a fully immersible virtual reality called the OASIS. The world shops, goes to school and interacts with each other through avatars amidst thousands of planets.When the story opens the OASIS's inventor has just died and has offered up his multi-billion dollar inheritance and a controlling share of the game to the first gamer who can find the Easter Egg hidden within the vast universe with the help of three clues. The only problem is the inventor was an 80s pop culture buff and all his clues revolve around the 80s. Critics have described Ready Player One as a "nerdgasm" and "crypto nerd fantastia" and many have listed it on their respective Best Books of 2011 lists. Styled like a traditional quest adventure story with chases, escapes, murder, intrigue and a DeLorean spaceship, there is plenty to keep you addicted to the plot. Reminiscent of the Matrix with a dash of King Arthur, this fast-paced ride is pure fun
Date published: 2012-07-01

Extra Content

Read from the Book

0001I was jolted awake by the sound of gunfire in one of the neighboring stacks. The shots were followed by a few minutes of muffled shouting and screaming, then silence.Gunfire wasn’t uncommon in the stacks, but it still shook me up. I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep, so I decided to kill the remaining hours until dawn by brushing up on a few coin-op classics. Galaga, Defender, Asteroids. These games were outdated digital dinosaurs that had become museum pieces long before I was born. But I was a gunter, so I didn’t think of them as quaint low-res antiques. To me, they were hallowed artifacts. Pillars of the pantheon. When I played the classics, I did so with a determined sort of reverence.I was curled up in an old sleeping bag in the corner of the trailer’s tiny laundry room, wedged into the gap between the wall and the dryer. I wasn’t welcome in my aunt’s room across the hall, which was fine by me. I preferred to crash in the laundry room anyway. It was warm, it afforded me a limited amount of privacy, and the wireless reception wasn’t too bad. And, as an added bonus, the room smelled like liquid detergent and fabric softener. The rest of the trailer reeked of cat piss and abject poverty.Most of the time I slept in my hideout. But the temperature had dropped below zero the past few nights, and as much as I hated staying at my aunt’s place, it still beat freezing to death.A total of fifteen people lived in my aunt’s trailer. She slept in the smallest of its three bedrooms. The Depperts lived in the bedroom adjacent to her, and the Millers occupied the large master bedroom at the end of the hall. There were six of them, and they paid the largest share of the rent. Our trailer wasn’t as crowded as some of the other units in the stacks. It was a double-wide. Plenty of room for everybody.I pulled out my laptop and powered it on. It was a bulky, heavy beast, almost ten years old. I’d found it in a Dumpster behind the abandoned strip mall across the highway. I’d been able to coax it back to life by replacing its system memory and reloading the stone-age operating system. The processor was slower than a sloth by current standards, but it was fine for my needs. The laptop served as my portable research library, video arcade, and home theater system. Its hard drive was filled with old books, movies, TV show episodes, song files, and nearly every videogame made in the twentieth century.I booted up my emulator and selected Robotron: 2084, one of my all-time favorite games. I’d always loved its frenetic pace and brutal simplicity. Robotron was all about instinct and reflexes. Playing old videogames never failed to clear my mind and set me at ease. If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game’s two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It’s just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.I spent a few hours blasting through wave after wave of Brains, Spheroids, Quarks, and Hulks in my unending battle to Save the Last Human Family! But eventually my fingers started to cramp up and I began to lose my rhythm. When that happened at this level, things deteriorated quickly. I burned through all of my extra lives in a matter of minutes, and my two least-favorite words appeared on the screen: game over.I shut down the emulator and began to browse through my video files. Over the past five years, I’d downloaded every single movie, TV show, and cartoon mentioned in Anorak’s Almanac. I still hadn’t watched all of them yet, of course. That would probably take decades.I selected an episode of Family Ties, an ’80s sitcom about a middle-class family living in central Ohio. I’d downloaded the show because it had been one of Halliday’s favorites, and I figured there was a chance that some clue related to the Hunt might be hidden in one of the episodes. I’d become addicted to the show immediately, and had now watched all 180 episodes, multiple times. I never seemed to get tired of them.Sitting alone in the dark, watching the show on my laptop, I always found myself imagining that I lived in that warm, well-lit house, and that those smiling, understanding people were my family. That there was nothing so wrong in the world that we couldn’t sort it out by the end of a single half-hour episode (or maybe a two-parter, if it was something really serious).My own home life had never even remotely resembled the one depicted in Family Ties, which was probably why I loved the show so much. I was the only child of two teenagers, both refugees who’d met in the stacks where I’d grown up. I don’t remember my father. When I was just a few months old, he was shot dead while looting a grocery store during a power blackout. The only thing I really knew about him was that he loved comic books. I’d found several old flash drives in a box of his things, containing complete runs of The Amazing Spider-Man, The X-Men, and Green Lantern. My mom once told me that my dad had given me an alliterative name, Wade Watts, because he thought it sounded like the secret identity of a superhero. Like Peter Parker or Clark Kent. Knowing that made me think he was must have been a cool guy, despite how he’d died.My mother, Loretta, had raised me on her own. We’d lived in a small RV in another part of the stacks. She had two full-time OASIS jobs, one as a telemarketer, the other as an escort in an online brothel. She used to make me wear earplugs at night so I wouldn’t hear her in the next room, talking dirty to tricks in other time zones. But the earplugs didn’t work very well, so I would watch old movies instead, with the volume turned way up.I was introduced to the OASIS at an early age, because my mother used it as a virtual babysitter. As soon as I was old enough to wear a visor and a pair of haptic gloves, my mom helped me create my first OASIS avatar. Then she stuck me in a corner and went back to work, leaving me to explore an entirely new world, very different from the one I’d known up until then.From that moment on, I was more or less raised by the OASIS’s interactive educational programs, which any kid could access for free. I spent a big chunk of my childhood hanging out in a virtual-reality simulation of Sesame Street, singing songs with friendly Muppets and playing interactive games that taught me how to walk, talk, add, subtract, read, write, and share. Once I’d mastered those skills, it didn’t take me long to discover that the OASIS was also the world’s biggest public library, where even a penniless kid like me had access to every book ever written, every song ever recorded, and every movie, television show, videogame, and piece of artwork ever created. The collected knowledge, art, and amusements of all human civilization were there, waiting for me. But gaining access to all of that information turned out to be something of a mixed blessing. Because that was when I found out the truth....I don’t know, maybe your experience differed from mine. For me, growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth. Existentially speaking.The worst thing about being a kid was that no one told me the truth about my situation. In fact, they did the exact opposite. And, of course, I believed them, because I was just a kid and I didn’t know any better. I mean, Christ, my brain hadn’t even grown to full size yet, so how could I be expected to know when the adults were bullshitting me?So I swallowed all of the dark ages nonsense they fed me. Some time passed. I grew up a little, and I gradually began to figure out that pretty much everyone had been lying to me about pretty much everything since the moment I emerged from my mother’s womb.This was an alarming revelation.It gave me trust issues later in life.I started to figure out the ugly truth as soon as I began to explore the free OASIS libraries. The facts were right there waiting for me, hidden in old books written by people who weren’t afraid to be honest. Artists and scientists and philosophers and poets, many of them long dead. As I read the words they’d left behind, I finally began to get a grip on the situation. My situation. Our situation. What most people referred to as “the human condition.”It was not good news.I wish someone had just told me the truth right up front, as soon as I was old enough to understand it. I wish someone had just said:“Here’s the deal, Wade. You’re something called a ‘human being.’ That’s a really smart kind of animal. Like every other animal on this planet, we’re descended from a single-celled organism that lived millions of years ago. This happened by a process called evolution, and you’ll learn more about it later. But trust me, that’s really how we all got here. There’s proof of it everywhere, buried in the rocks. That story you heard? About how we were all created by a super-powerful dude named God who lives up in the sky? Total bullshit. The whole God thing is actually an ancient fairy tale that people have been telling to one another for thousands of years. We made it all up. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.“Oh, and by the way . . .​ there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. Also bullshit. Sorry, kid. Deal with it.“You’re probably wondering what happened before you got here. An awful lot of stuff, actually. Once we evolved into humans, things got pretty interesting. We figured out how to grow food and domesticate animals so we didn’t have to spend all of our time hunting. Our tribes got much bigger, and we spread across the entire planet like an unstoppable virus. Then, after fighting a bunch of wars with each other over land, resources, and our made-up gods, we eventually got all of our tribes organized into a ‘global civilization.’ But, honestly, it wasn’t all that organized, or civilized, and we continued to fight a lot of wars with each other. But we also figured out how to do science, which helped us develop technology. For a bunch of hairless apes, we’ve actually managed to invent some pretty incredible things. Computers. Medicine. Lasers. Microwave ovens. Artificial hearts. Atomic bombs. We even sent a few guys to the moon and brought them back. We also created a global communications network that lets us all talk to each other, all around the world, all the time. Pretty impressive, right?“But that’s where the bad news comes in. Our global civilization came at a huge cost. We needed a whole bunch of energy to build it, and we got that energy by burning fossil fuels, which came from dead plants and animals buried deep in the ground. We used up most of this fuel before you got here, and now it’s pretty much all gone. This means that we no longer have enough energy to keep our civilization running like it was before. So we’ve had to cut back. Big-time. We call this the Global Energy Crisis, and it’s been going on for a while now.“Also, it turns out that burning all of those fossil fuels had some nasty side effects, like raising the temperature of our planet and screwing up the environment. So now the polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and the weather is all messed up. Plants and animals are dying off in record numbers, and lots of people are starving and homeless. And we’re still fighting wars with each other, mostly over the few resources we have left.“Basically, kid, what this all means is that life is a lot tougher than it used to be, in the Good Old Days, back before you were born. Things used to be awesome, but now they’re kinda terrifying. To be honest, the future doesn’t look too bright. You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out. Human civilization is in ‘decline.’ Some people even say it’s ‘collapsing.’“You’re probably wondering what’s going to happen to you. That’s easy. The same thing is going to happen to you that has happened to every other human being who has ever lived. You’re going to die. We all die. That’s just how it is.“What happens when you die? Well, we’re not completely sure. But the evidence seems to suggest that nothing happens. You’re just dead, your brain stops working, and then you’re not around to ask annoying questions anymore. Those stories you heard? About going to a wonderful place called ‘heaven’ where there is no more pain or death and you live forever in a state of perpetual happiness? Also total bullshit. Just like all that God stuff. There’s no evidence of a heaven and there never was. We made that up too. Wishful thinking. So now you have to live the rest of your life knowing you’re going to die someday and disappear forever.“Sorry.”...OK, on second thought, maybe honesty isn’t the best policy after all. Maybe it isn’t a good idea to tell a newly arrived human being that he’s been born into a world of chaos, pain, and poverty just in time to watch everything fall to pieces. I discovered all of that gradually over several years, and it still made me feel like jumping off a bridge.Luckily, I had access to the OASIS, which was like having an escape hatch into a better reality. The OASIS kept me sane. It was my playground and my preschool, a magical place where anything was possible.The OASIS is the setting of all my happiest childhood memories. When my mom didn’t have to work, we would log in at the same time and play games or go on interactive storybook adventures together. She used to have to force me to log out every night, because I never wanted to return to the real world. Because the real world sucked.I never blamed my mom for the way things were. She was a victim of fate and cruel circumstance, like everyone else. Her generation had it the hardest. She’d been born into a world of plenty, then had to watch it all slowly vanish. More than anything, I remember feeling sorry for her. She was depressed all the time, and taking drugs seemed to be the only thing she truly enjoyed. Of course, they were what eventually killed her. When I was eleven years old, she shot a bad batch of something into her arm and died on our ratty fold-out sofa bed while listening to music on an old mp3 player I’d repaired and given to her the previous Christmas.

Bookclub Guide

US1. The OASIS becomes a part of daily life for users around the globe. What virtual realms (Google, Facebook, iCloud) do you depend on? What is at stake in the war against IOI, the internet service provider that wants to overturn Halliday’s affordable, open-source approach? Is it dangerous to mix profit and dependence on technology? 2. Explore the question of identity raised in the novel. What do the characters’ avatars tell us about their desires and their insecurities? In reality, does our physical appearance give false clues about who we really are? How does Parzival, transformed into a celebrity gunter, become Wade’s true self? 3. With a narrator who vividly captures the human experience, Ready Player One delivers a world that is easy for us to imagine. In the novel, what was at the root of the grim downturn for Earth’s inhabitants? Could your community start looking like the stacks by the year 2044? 4. How does love affect Wade’s rational mind? Would you have given Art3mis the tip about playing on the left side to defeat the lich (page 99, chapter ten)? Did you predict that she would turn out to be a friend or a foe?5. How does public school in the OASIS compare to your experience in school? Has author Ernest Cline created a solution to classroom overcrowding, student apathy, and school violence?6. In his Columbus bunker, Wade puts on so many pounds that he can no longer fit comfortably in his haptic chair. How would you fare in his weight-loss program, described in chapter nineteen, featuring a simulation gym, coaching from Max, and a lockout system that restricts his diet and forces him to exercise? 7. Wade’s OASIS pass phrase is revealed on page 199, at the end of chapter nineteen: “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.” What does this philosophy mean to him at that point in his life? 8. How is the novel shaped by the 1980s backdrop, featuring John Hughes films, suburban shows like Family Ties, a techno-beat soundtrack, and of course, a slew of early video games? Did Halliday grow up in a utopia? 9. Discuss Bryce Lynch’s financial situation, rigged so that Wade could infiltrate IOI. When does Wade become willing to “die trying”? How did you react to the image of debtors being forced into indentured servitude?10. Wade doesn’t depend on religion to make moral decisions or overcome life-threatening challenges. What does the novel say about humanity’s relationship to religion? What sort of god is Halliday, creator of the OASIS universe?11. Despite their introverted nature, the book’s characters thrive on friendship. Discuss the level of trust enjoyed by Halliday and Og, and among Wade, Aech, Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto. How is true power achieved in Ready Player One?12. In the closing scenes, Halliday’s reward proves to be greater than mere wealth. What is Halliday’s ultimate prize? How did the rules of Halliday’s game help him determine the type of player who would likely win? 13. In his quest for the three keys, Wade is required to inhabit many imaginary worlds, including movies, video games, and a simulation of Halliday’s childhood home. Which of these virtual realities appealed to you the most? What sort of virtual reality is provided by a novel?

Editorial Reviews

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“The science-fiction writer John Scalzi has aptly referred to READY PLAYER ONE as a 'nerdgasm' [and] there can be no better one-word description of this ardent fantasy artifact about fantasy culture…But Mr. Cline is able to incorporate his favorite toys and games into a perfectly accessible narrative.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times “Triggers memories and emotions embedded in the psyche of a generation...[Cline crafts] a fresh and imaginative world from our old toy box, and finds significance in there among the collectibles.” —Entertainment Weekly“A most excellent ride…the conceit is a smart one, and we happily root for [the heroes] on their quest…fully satisfying.” —Boston Globe“Enchanting…Willy Wonka meets the Matrix. This novel undoubtedly qualifies Cline as the hottest geek on the planet right now. [But] you don't have to be a geek to get it.” —USA Today  “An addictive read...part intergalactic scavenger hunt, part romance and all heart.” —CNN.com“An action-packed, highly entertaining, nostalgic thrill ride through the past combined with the danger and excitement of a not-too-distant future. It marries the fantastical world of Harry Potter with a touch of Orson Scott Card—where fantasy is reality, geeks are cool, and the possibilities are endless.” —New York Journal of Books“Ridiculously fun and large-hearted, and you don't have to remember the Reagan administration to love it…[Cline] takes a far-out premise and engages the reader instantly…You'll wish you could make it go on and on.” —NPR.org“A delirious, crypto-nerd fantasia...Crammed with ’80s nostalgia and sugar-high prose, it's ridiculous and addictive and full of toy surprises.” —Village Voice“A smart, funny thriller that both celebrates and critiques online culture...Layered with inside jokes and sly references.” —San Francisco Chronicle“A fun, funny and fabulously entertaining first novel…This novel's large dose of 1980s trivia is a delight…[but] even readers who need Google to identify Commodore 64 or Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde, will enjoy this memorabilian feast.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer“The grown-up's 'Harry Potter’…the mystery and fantasy in this novel weaves itself in the most delightful way, and the details that make up Mr. Cline's world are simply astounding. READY PLAYER ONE has it all.” —Huffington Post“If you identify yourself as a nerd, geek, gamer, 1980s history buff, a fan of science, fantasy, or dystopian fiction, otaku, 1980s movie fan, romantic, someone who grew up in the 1980s, or a human with emotions—you will enjoy Ready Player One. If you identify with two or more of the above, it’s a guaranteed new favorite novel.” —Sacramento News & Review“A modern-day fairy tale...so self-assured and enthralling that it’s hard to believe this is his first novel.” —Long Island Press“Incredibly entertaining…Drawing on everything from "Back to the Future" to Roald Dahl to Neal Stephenson's groundbreaking "Snow Crash," Cline has made READY PLAYER ONE a geek fantasia, '80s culture memoir and commentary on the future of online behavior all at once.” —Austin American-Statesman “An exhilerating, unpredictable trip...Part Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and part The Da Vinci Code with a healthy dose of Tron.” —Asbury Park Press“READY PLAYER ONE is the ultimate lottery ticket.” —New York Daily News“[Picture] the adventure comedy of Mike Judge’s Idiocracy meets South Park’s Imaginationland with a dash of Willy Wonka, except all of the cynicism has been replaced by sheer geeky love. Grade: A.” —AVClub.com“A preposterously great read and a richly imagined science-fiction world that uses the very idea of nostalgia as a thematic jumping-off point...One of the true geek events of the year.” —HitFix.com“This non-gamer loved every page of READY PLAYER ONE.” —Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series“A treasure for anyone already nostalgic for the late 20th century. . . But it’s also a great read for anyone who likes a good book.” —Wired.com “A gunshot of fun with a wicked sense of timing and a cast of characters that you're pumping your fist in the air with whenever they succeed. I haven't been this much on the edge of my seat for an ending in years.” —Chicago Reader“A rollicking, surprise-laden, potboiling, thrilling adventure story…. I loved every sentence of this book.” —Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing"A 'frakking' good read [featuring] incredible creative detail…I grinned at the sheer audacity of Cline's imagination.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel“[A] fantastic page-turner….READY PLAYER ONE may be science fiction, but it's also written for people who have never picked up an SF novel in their lives…” —Annalee Newitz, io9.com “Intriguing and thrilling. Gamers and fans of '80s pop culture will find many familiar references throughout the story...Definitely an enjoyable read and one that can be appreciated by fans of many different genres.” —Examiner.com“Gorgeously geeky, superbly entertaining, this really is a spectacularly successful debut.” —Daily Mail (UK)“Fascinating and imaginative…It's non-stop action when gamers must navigate clever puzzles and outwit determined enemies in a virtual world in order to save a real one. Readers are in for a wild ride.” —Terry Brooks, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shannara series“I was blown away by this book…A book of ideas, a potboiler, a game-within-a-novel, a serious science-fiction epic, a comic pop culture mash-up–call this novel what you will, but READY PLAYER ONE will defy every label you try to put on it. Here, finally, is this generation’s Neuromancer.” —Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Dominance“I really, really loved READY PLAYER ONE…Cline expertly mines a copious vein of 1980s pop culture, catapulting the reader on a light-speed adventure in an advanced but backward-looking future.” —Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse “A nerdgasm…imagine Dungeons and Dragons and an 80s video arcade made hot, sweet love, and their child was raised in Azeroth.” —John Scalzi, New York Times bestselling author of Old Man’s War“Completely fricking awesome...This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body.  I felt like it was written just for me.” —Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wise Man’s Fear  “An exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyber-quest. Cline’s imaginative and rollicking coming-of-age geek saga has a smash-hit vibe.” —Booklist (starred review) “This adrenaline shot of uncut geekdom, a quest through a virtual world, is loaded with enough 1980s nostalgia to please even the most devoted John Hughes fans… sweet, self-deprecating Wade, whose universe is an odd mix of the real past and the virtual present, is the perfect lovable/unlikely hero.” —Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)