In the year 2044, the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a virtual utopia that contains the ultimate lottery ticket concealed in puzzles. Once Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle, the only way for him to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win.
If you grew up in the 1980s and resided anywhere on the nerd-geek spectrum, all it takes is the right Rush or Genesis song to bring you back to the video arcade...Those arcade games, and those fond memories, are the subject of Ernest Cline's unapologetically nerdy debut novel … Ready Player One is ridiculously fun and large-hearted, and you don't have to remember the Reagan administration to love it … I never thought I could be on the edge of my seat while reading about a session of the arcade game Joust, but the author's energetic, deeply felt narrative makes it almost impossible to stop turning the pages. Cline is that rare writer who can translate his own dorky enthusiasms into prose that's both hilarious and compassionate.
Few novels set up an engaging plot as fast as this one. In the first three pages, Cline cleverly lures readers into the crux of the story … In its charmingly odd manner, this is Willy Wonka meets The Matrix. Wade Watts, a nerdy computer-wiz high-schooler living in Oklahoma City's ‘stacks’ (ghettos), is the story's narrator and unlikely hero determined to win Halliday's contest...As the contest's front-runner, he gains instant global respect, new friends and deadly enemies … OASIS brims with '80s references, icons, trivia and nostalgia — Pac-man, WarGames, Zork, Duran Duran, AC/DC, Rush, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Dungeons & Dragons, anime. So does the entire novel, which in its quirky way is fun.
With its Pac-Man-style cover graphics and vintage Atari mind-set Ready Player One certainly looks like a genre item. But Mr. Cline is able to incorporate his favorite toys and games into a perfectly accessible narrative … Real life on an impoverished, resource-depleted Earth has grown increasingly grim. So the characters in Ready Player One spend their time as avatars bewitched by online role playing. They live as shut-ins and don’t know one another in the flesh … The breadth and cleverness of Mr. Cline’s imagination gets this daydream pretty far. But there comes a point when it’s clear that Wade lacks at least one dimension, and that gaming has overwhelmed everything else about this book.