Hi everyone! This is Julia of The Broke and the Bookish, formerly blogging on my own at The Competitive Bibliomaniac.
I read mostly historical romance, but can often be found reviewing paranormal romance, young adult books (mostly distopian/fantasy), fantasy/sci-fi, classics, and the occasional non-fiction book about languages.
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I really liked this book and the production of it. So much so that once I was fully engaged I would turn it on and listen as I got ready for work. I'd listen until I had to turn it off then play it as soon as I could. I'd fall asleep every night lying in bed listening to the book.
Ready Player One is the story of Wade Watts, an 18 year old senior who lives in a sort of dystopian america. It's 2044. The world ran out of fossil fuels and the unemployed and homeless roam, starving. The only happiness in anyone's life is a virtual reality video game called The Oasis.
Wade is known in the Oasis as Parzival (at least that is how I think it is spelled... I've never seen it written). He pretty much lives in the Oasis, even going to school there. But his primary goal and that of so many others is to participate in a contest.
The contest was started by James Halliday, the creator of the Oasis on his death with a video challenging the world to find three keys and pass through three gates all hidden in the Oasis. The winner would have his fortune and pretty much be his heir.
The story is centered around this contest as well as his relationships with his friends who he has only interacted with online. Aech (like the letter H) and Art3mis (again I am going to have to check these spelling).
My favorite part of the whole book was the contest and how it related to 1980s geek culture. I loved all the references to old video games and movies. Cline's creative ingenuity of the worlds both in and out of the Oasis are staggering. Like, who wouldn't want to take the place of their favorite movie character and act out the movie? That would be the best virtual reality game ever.
I also loved the spotlight Ohio has in this world as the technological mecca.
The themes in this book are pretty heavy actually, the primary one being the role technology plays in our life. I mean in this world, Wade and pretty much the rest of the world live in a virtual place where so many things are possible. In fact, the real world adapts to make the fake world easier to access. It's a chilling thought. Completely replacing reality, touch, face to face interaction with a fake version of it.
Don't get me wrong, Virtual reality is cool and I could totally see myself doing the same things as these characters. That's why this book was so good. It felt like everything in it could happen.
That said I had a few issues with the length of time in the middle not focusing on the contest and instead on a boring romance subplot. And I also thought in the beginning that Wade was a little too smart for me to believe, but as the book went on and I thought about the level of commitment these people have to the contest, I believed it more.
I am being purposefully vague here because this book is awesome and I don't want to spoil it. If you are even remotely intrigued by this concept, please check it out!
One final word on the audiobook. Wil Wheaton was the best narrator I could have hoped for in a story like this. His inflection and commitment to the story had me believing his was Wade. There could not have been a better narrator for this book. Though sometimes, hearing some of the dialogue or certain phrases did make me laugh out loud. I think overall though I enjoyed this being an audiobook because it forced me to slow down and actually listen to it. If I would have had this book in written form, I would have devoured it in a day.
So yeah, read this. Or listen to it. It it totally worth it.
Review originally posted on GR in Feb. 2013