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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Benjamin Parzybok: IMG A Brief History of Video Games Played by Mayors, Presidents, and Emperors

Brandon Bartlett, the fictional mayor of Portland in my novel Sherwood Nation, is addicted to playing video games. In a city he's all but lost... Continue »
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Ready Player One


Ready Player One Cover

ISBN13: 9780307887443
ISBN10: 0307887448
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Average customer rating based on 37 comments:

J Haskin, September 11, 2014 (view all comments by J Haskin)
Be warned: this is the kind of book that will make you resent having to do things like "work," "eat," or "sleep." I am halfway through the book so far, but it only took me a chapter or two before I decided on at least three people in my life who will be getting copies of it for their birthdays or Christmas.

The writing is engaging, intelligent, and highly readable, and the world of the book is an all too plausible - and therefore scary - extension of the current world. The main character is someone with whom you can readily identify (even if you aren't a geek-culture-oriented teenage boy), and the book in general is one in which you find yourself immersed without really even noticing it. (Which, in itself, provides food for thought on the "losing oneself in virtual reality" theme of the book.)

If this book continues as it has begun, it will end up on my list of favorite books - something that rarely happens!

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trynewideas, December 29, 2013 (view all comments by trynewideas)
The first 100 pages of this book are lovely, filled with good worldbuilding and nice pacing. But the more it tries to ape Snow Crash, the more it plays out like a poorly-cut mashup video of 80s cartoons--it reads more like an early nineties cyberpunk novel that's been rewritten by the SEO manager of an 8-bit game console emulator site, more worried about hitting keyword quotas than telling the story.

Then there's the thin, broad characterizations, with two Japanese characters portrayed as borderline racist stereotypes and a quiet but persistent homophobic/transphobic undercurrent. There's a weak romance sideplot that sits squarely in fedora-wearing Nice Guy idiocy: the protagonist is rewarded despite blatantly stalking and harassing a woman who is trying to avoid him. Pop culture references hit maybe once every ten times they're smashed into the reader's face and become a page-skipping burden less than halfway through the book. (At least skipping them makes this a fast, if tiring, read.)

The Wonka-ish nature of the plot is forgivable, but this could have been a much, much tighter book. It feels like it was edited for the factual accuracy of its references rather than to determine if most of them were remotely necessary to the story or characters.
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
Gracie, December 7, 2013 (view all comments by Gracie)
This book is as addictive and fun as the video games it nostalgically champions. Underdog hero Wade, aka Parzival, is living in an all-too-realistic dystopian future: the planet's a wreck and escapism in the virtual OASIS is infinitely preferable. The OASIS is, in fact, where Wade spends most of his time and where he considers his real life to be.

The creator of the OASIS, philanthropic soul, lover of all things 1980s, and Wade's hero, James Halliday, also preferred the virtual world. So much so, that when he died, he left no heirs but a contest. Whoever wins Halliday's contest will inherit his great fortune and control of the OASIS.

There is, obviously, widespread interest in the contest. Whether it's idealistic individuals, cooperative clan groups, or mega corporations out for profit, the game is on. Wade must do battle with friend and enemy alike, trying to decipher clues, pass tests, and even just to stay alive. And it's along the way that he'll discover who he really is, what he wants, and change the world he knows.

Ernest Cline writes this story with wit and depth, using pop culture references and gaming strategies to illuminate the human condition and the mise en abyme of the game within a game works beautifully. Loved this book.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
chipkerchner, March 24, 2013 (view all comments by chipkerchner)
If you grew up in the 80s and loved the pop-culture of the time (TV, movies, books, video games), this definitely a must read. I couldn't put it down after a bit of slow start of the book. I felt that the contest puzzles built up a nice climatically ending to the story and the characters were fun and identifiable. Definitely a modern day "Willy Wonka" type of story meets a coming of age in a dystopian future. I would love to see the movie, if and when it comes out, and hope to see another great book by Ernest Cline.
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(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
lukas, February 27, 2013 (view all comments by lukas)
Like author Ernest Cline, who also wrote the screenplay to "Fanboys," I grew up in the 80s and have an affinity for the pop culture from that decade. And while I never self-identified as a geek, I read comics, played arcade games, watched sci-fi and was awkward around girls. I'm pleased to see that geek culture has become mainstream, but Cline's book is an example of the excesses and weaknesses of writing that is based almost solely on 80s pop detritus and the nostalgia of a generation. "Ready Player One" is basically "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" set inside "The Matrix." It's fun enough to read, but the proliferation of pop culture references (everything from Devo to WarGames to Joust) quickly becomes tiresome and serves little purpose other than for Cline to bond with the geek-o-sphere. Again, it's fun, but empty.
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(5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Cline, Ernest
Broadway Books
Science / General
Science Fiction and Fantasy-A to Z
Science / Adventure
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
7.99 x 5.17 x 0.81 in 0.64 lb

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Ready Player One New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.00 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Broadway Books - English 9780307887443 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I had many books on my to-read list, but this one jumped straight to the top as soon as I got my hands on a copy. It has everything I love about video games and cartoons and anime from the '80s. The pacing of the book is great, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. Anyone who can make a story based around the Atari game Adventure is my hero.

"Staff Pick" by ,

I had a hard time choosing a number one pick for my Top 5s of 2011, but this book won out because it was fun and nostalgic and possibly the most joyfully entertaining book I read all year. A quest story set mostly in a virtual world, it's a geeky celebration of all things '80s — a decade when video arcades and John Hughes movies reigned supreme. Is it the best book I read? Probably not. Is it the book that made me happiest while I was reading it and that I most want to force on friends and strangers alike? Absolutely.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Set in the year 2044, Ready Player One tells the story of a Steve Jobs-like character, his death, and the game that's played in a virtual world he created. The winner gains control of his company, and players range from big corporations with money, loner kids, and teams from across the world. It's a fun book filled with characters you love to cheer for and lots of '80s trivia.

"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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. A-"
"Review" by , "A most excellent ride...the conceit is a smart one, and we happily root for [the heroes] on their quest...fully satisfying."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
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