Take The Matrix in one hand. In your second hand take Second Life. In your third hand take World of Warcraft.

Now mash them all together. Oh, and mix in some ALF.

This is the world of Ready Player One.

It’s 2044, and Earth has become practically inhospitable, but people don’t seem to mind because they all live in OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory-Immersive Simulation), a free-to-play massively multiplayer online simulation game created by James Halliday. James Halliday suddenly dies, but has left a will stating that whomever can find his Easter Egg in OASIS will inherit his wealth ($240 billion) and control of OASIS.

The book’s main character is Wade Watts, known as Parzival in the game. He is one of many egg hunters, or “gunters” dedicated to finding the egg. James Halliday was obsessed with the 1980’s, so OASIS is full of 80’s pop references, and the gunters spend their time pouring over everything from the 80’s, from arcade games to movies to television to music and more. The more 80’s trivia you know, the more impressive you are. Parzivial is a low level gunter (in OASIS, you can travel anywhere, for a price, and most gunters, when they’re not studying the 80’s they’re leveling up their avatars through quests), but one obsessed with Halliday and the 80’s. He and his only friend Aech (pronounced “H”) spend all their free time playing arcade games and watching movies together, in hopes of finding clues to the location of Halliday’s egg.

Racing against the gunters is the corporation IOI (Innovative Online Industries), who want to monetize OASIS, charging for access, and for advertising space (on any and everything). The gunters are not only trying to locate the egg for wealth, but to continue the vision of Halliday, and despise anyone that works for IOI.

Now for my review

First, I will say that this book was fun to read. Entertaining and pretty quickly paced, I read this in a short amount of time. I do recommend it to anyone that 1) loves the 80’s, 2) loves virtual worlds, or 3) loves puzzles. Not that there’s really any puzzle solving for the reader. There’s no way to read a clue and actually figure something out before someone in the book does. But, it’s still fun to watch the characters explore. The action can be fun, as in a virtual world, any type of weapon can be created, from guns to magic spells and more.

A couple of times there’s some references that take me out of the story, like when someone mentions Wikipedia. I suppose that website might still be around in another 30 years, but I would have assumed something better would have come around. It just felt strange hearing a few terms that are used currently.

It’s not a very deep book. You can tell where things are going for the most part. There’s a few twists that are fun to find out, but for the most part it’s pretty heavy handed when it comes to things like “This will be Wade’s love interest.”

Overall, think of this book like an action movie. It’s fun to let yourself be drawn in and watch, but don’t expect too much in the way of a compelling story or wonderful acting.

Out of 17, I give this book an 11.

AdamPFarnsworth   Post Author wrote on 02/27/2014 at 10:30pm

To show the amount of 80's this book contains, here's every movie mentioned in the book :)

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 02/27/2014 at 10:42pm

Love this book, and highly recommend. Waves of nostalgia for children of the 80's, and the Willy Wonka/Matrix association is dead on. This book is pure tribute to what made that decade a great time to be a very nerdy kid ;).

gaidalcain85 wrote on 03/03/2014 at 03:37am

This is an amazing book, a must read for any gamer, especially for children of the 80's :D

AdamPFarnsworth   Post Author wrote on 04/02/2018 at 08:00pm

Quick movie review. It was ok. I saw it in IMAX 3D, so the visuals were a lot of fun, but the story was a little worse than the book (and the book story wasn't the greatest to begin with). It does really look great, but I probably won't bother seeing it again, unless it's free on demand or netflix and I'm bored.

A funny point that relates to my original post about the book. In the book, when they mention Wikipedia, it took me out of the story, and similarly, in the movie, someone mentions Twitch, and I had the same immersion-breaking thought "why is Twitch still around 30 years in the future?"

Oh, also T.J. Miller voices an avatar in this, and that totally took me out of the movie each time. Instead of buying his character, in my mind's eye, I could only see him in a voice booth, reading his lines. I think that was a poor voice acting choice.

AdamPFarnsworth   Post Author wrote on 04/02/2018 at 08:01pm

Using the new Cheerful Ghost game rating scale, I give the book a Rad and the movie a Meh unfortunately.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/02/2018 at 11:21pm

This movie seems up my alley, in fact someone at work asked me if I saw it. Strangely enough i've thought the trailers have looked like a movie i'm in no way interested in seeing. The trailers make this movie seem like NOSTALGIA THE MOVIE and i'm just not really in to that. I'm going to start reading reviews for it now, but it's not something i'm actively making my way to watch.

Curious why you thought it was meh? Uninteresting characters? Was it a generic story?

AdamPFarnsworth   Post Author wrote on 04/02/2018 at 11:45pm

The story is fairly generic: poor kid saves the world and finds love, but that was in the book, so I can give that a pass. Basically, the book has a lot more narration, and you understand the "why" more so than the movie. The movie doesn't seem to give you a good reason why the OASIS needs to be saved. Obviously, the big, bad corporation having control is obviously bad, but the book spends more time building the world and how the OASIS is "the world" to most people. Kids go to school in it, every works in it, there isn't much of a "real world" anymore. The main character lives in some futuristic slums, so it makes sense that he'd want to escape, but you don't get a sense of how the rest of the world looks/works. The movie looks amazing, but just isn't much more than a CGI reference extravaganza.

I'd call the movie REFERENCE THE MOVIE and the book NOSTALGIA THE BOOK. The book seems to care about the references more. Maybe it's easier as the nostalgia in the book is just from the 80's, and the author loves the 80's, whereas the movie has references from the 80's, 90's and 2000's, and they're just there.

Also, another gripe I have with the movie is the "B roll" type shots of people using VR. The main character has an omnidirectional treadmill, so he can run in any direction and not move in actual space, but so many times you see random shots of people running around the real world streets, with their headsets on, but fighting in OASIS. They should have been running into each other and buildings, but somehow they're just able to avoid everything. Also, there's some scenes where a lot of people die in OASIS (you can see some big battle scenes in the trailers), and you see people in the real world being kicked out of OASIS in the same pattern people died in OASIS. For instance, in a big battle scene, someone shoots a laser and kills a line of people. The movie then cuts to a line of people in the real world having to take their headsets off. But that's not how the OASIS works... they've been running around, battling, there's no relation to their real world presence and their presence in the game.

So, between a generic story and too many points that broke the movie magic for me, I can only give it a meh. It's beautiful, and fun at times, but the book is much better (and it has it's flaws already).

jdodson   Admin wrote on 04/04/2018 at 03:31am

Thanks Adam. That really helps me understand it better.

Travis   Admin wrote on 04/15/2018 at 02:36am

Katie and I just got back from it. She's read it, I haven't. She liked it more than I did but I'd still give it a Rad, though maybe not a high rad.

It was a daunting task to make the film, and you can tell Spielberg loved it (though he rates it one of his hardest films ever). The cast was fantastic except for, unfortunately, the lead. A lot of the narrative is told through voiceover and those segments just didn't land for me. The ending was incredibly saccharine and heavily changed from the book apparently. Katie explained the book's ending to me and it sounds much stronger.

I think the problems come from the compressed story, as is frequently the case with adaptations. They didn't have enough time to explore things as they needed to.

But it was a LOT of fun. I cared about the story even if it was the typical plucky band of heroes vs. the evil corporation plot. That plot comes back up so often because it works, I guess. I DO greatly wish that it hadn't relied so much on voiceover.

The action was fun and very well done and the animation felt accurate for the interface players use. Not perfect, not an uncanny valley, a lot of goofy stuff mixed with realistic stuff. The kind of hodge podge you'd expect from something with user-created content. It really sold itself as a futuristic VR game/world.

Ultimately Adam I think I agree with almost all your criticisms and have some that you didn't mention but it didn't pull it down as much for me. Mostly it made me want to read the book and to see an extended edition with an alternate ending.

If you want to join this conversation you need to sign in.
Sign Up / Log In