Friday, November 4, 2011

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline (Audio)

I'm probably repeating things you have already heard if I tell you that this should have been the last book I would have fallen in love with.  Classified as sci-fi dystopian about a video game?  Really?  But hey, EW put it on its Must List.  People who were not even children of the '80's, people who were not even gamers, LOVED this book. 

And as always with me, the final straw.  A narrator for the audio that is hard to resist - Wil Wheaton.  Come to mama.  I was told by those in the know that the audio was the way to go. 

That is nice rhyme. 

This puppy rocked my ever-lovin' geeky 1980's mall hair heart.

Synopsis: It is 2044, and the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, as it is wont to do in dystopia.  There has been an economic implosion and an energy crisis that has left most Americans struggling, if not for OASIS, a massive online world where people can socialize, attend school, and earn a living, without ever leaving their living room. 

OASIS was the brainchild of two eccentric and antisocial entrepreneurs, one of whom has recently died of cancer.  An apostle of all things '80's, James Halliday has left his legacy of a gazillion dollars to the one person who can follow a series of clues and challenges within OASIS, testing their knowledge of '80's pop culture, and win the "game". 

Enter Wade Watts, an over-weight, acne-pocked, orphaned teenager who prefers to spend all of his time in OASIS, where he is the savvy and buff "Parzival".  He has dedicated his life to studying James Halliday and is an adept gamer, so why not give this challenge a go?  It sure would be nice to have food to eat and a place to live that didn't involve his abusive aunt and her various boyfriends. 

The only trouble is that everyone else wants to win too, and the race is on.  Not all the participants are reclusive teenagers.  Some are ruthless members of a conglomerate that owns half the world already, and will stop at nothing, even murder, to win.

My thoughts:  Ernest Cline, I AM YOUR TARGET READER!  I graduated from high school in 1984.  I spent weekends with my sister and BFF in the arcades playing Pac Man, Tempest, Dig Dug, Burger Time, Q-Bert, and Gallaga.  Hell, my husband and I still have an old Nintendo.  I listened to Rush (especially 2112), with my impressionable mind being blown away with this whole story-on-an-album idea.  I loved the classic movies like War Games, Back to the Future and Ferris Bueller.  Additionally, I am now the mother of a gamer son, who amazes me on a daily basis when he tells me about the things he does in his games...his gates, easter eggs, and missions. 

So the fact that all of this '80's culture that I lived through (and the geekdom that occurs upstairs in my household now) is this book's anchor?  Almost an out-of-body experience for me.  I was giddy.

But you really don't even have to know the '80's intimately, you don't have to be into gaming, or be a teenager, or even LIKE Sci-fi.  We have a likable, underdog protagonist, a treasure hunt, lots of action, a mentor that is half Steve Jobs and half Willy Wonka, and a world that is really...not too far from what we have now.   

This was an example of a brilliant mind that knows no boundaries, turned loose on the page.  Ernest Cline let it rip and we are the beneficiaries.  Thank you Ernest Cline, you will be a the top of my love list for 2012.

A word about the audio production:  Audio book producers, take note please.  This is an example of PERFECTLY CASTING A BOOK.  If I looked the whole world over, there would not be a more suitable person to narrate this book than Wil Wheaton. Wheaton embodied Wade - his youthfulness, his enthusiasm, his self-deprecation.  I've noticed that he has narrated other books, and I'm going to make it my mission to seek him out.

5 out of 5 stars            

       

19 comments:

Nymeth said...

I really want to read this one! I was too young for most of the 80's to remember early gaming well, BUT I did have an older brother who exposed me to things at an early age. So I think I'd get a kick out of the references, even if I missed a few. But it sounds like there's LOTS to a book beyond that anyway!

Beth F said...

I barely skimmed your review because I want to read this and I don't want to be too influenced by your opinion. But I did read the audio part. Hummm now I'm thinking audio is the way to go.

bermudaonion said...

I read this is print because my video gaming son wanted me to send it to him to read. I couldn't believe how much I loved it even though I was an old married woman in the 80's. The audio sounds fabulous.

Julie P. said...

I've been waiting for your review. It does not disappoint!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I really want to read this too. I'm now number 97 or something in the library queue.

Zibilee said...

I am listening to this one right now, and do agree that Wheaton is perfect, PERFECT for this narration. I am liking the parts where the reader is subsumed in the game over the parts about the real world, so some parts grab my attention in a more powerful fashion than others, but I can't wait to get into it further. It's a little slow going because the hubby and I are listening each night, which means it's going a chapter at a time. Fantastic review today, my friend!

reviewsbylola said...

Yay! Another glowing review! I have this one on my wish list. Like you, I was skeptical about it at first but now I am convinced I will love it.

Alyce said...

This is definitely one of my top reads of the year! It was such a fun book in so many ways. :)

Carrie K. said...

I just loaded this onto my MP3 player - so I am so excited after reading your review!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Ok, I guess I need to read this one. I've been resisting it for awhile, though I'm not sure why. It sounds like a really fun read!

caite said...

I graduated from high school..before 1984.
Maybe I am too old for this one since I was always bad at PacMan.

Ti said...

I was his target reader too but it did not work for me at all. I think I should have listened to the audio.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Yay!!! I'm so glad that you liked it so much. I just finished this a few days ago. Totally brilliant!

Jenny said...

Despite all the glowing reviews I've seen for this, I am having a REALLY hard time imagining that I would like this book. But everyone says so and says how great it is so I'm also SUPER curious, LOL. I am SO not a video game person, but of the video games I do like, it's mainly the older, simpler games, like the original Mario. I might try to convince Jason to read it though because he seems like a target reader as well!

Trisha said...

This may be the one I finally listen to. I love the idea of Wil Wheaton narrating, and I definitely love the premise of the book.

Jenners said...

I KNEW you would love this!!! The more people we can get to read this book, the better. It was such a kick!

farmlanebooks said...

I have heard so many wonderful things about this book! I worry that I'm a little too young for it (as I was only born in 1978) but I do remember a bit about the 80s so I suppose that is enough. I'm not going to rush out and get this one, but I'll ensure I read it at some point...or perhaps get the audio now you've raved about that too.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Wow - that whole dystopian thing was a big black curtain coming down over any possibility of me reading it. BUT - your review - double wow! That was MY life - big mall hair, Pac Mac (we hung out at an arcade called "Fun and Games" ... do you think I'd let me kids go to a place like that these days? No!). I think I'd like this ... I might even love this ... will get in queue for the audio.

SuziQoregon said...

I'm about halfway through listening to this one right now and absolutely loving it for all the reasons you mention. I'm definitely putting it in The Hubster's audiobook queue.