Author: Ernest Cline
Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Runtime: 15h, 46m
Have you seen the movie? Cool. Ignore it for now. Time to discuss the source material 🙂
Wade Watts is a poor kid living in the stacks, a trailer-park district where mobile homes are stacked atop each other. To ignore the dour mood of the stacks, the generally abysmal conditions of earth and life in general Wade lives in the Oasis – a global VR simulator that hosts everything from schools to business districts to your general MMO gameplay. Like in real life, Wade’s character Parzival, is a 3rd level character with no special equipment, no magic items and can’t dungeon crawl through any instances without the help of his best friend Aech(pronounced “h”), a PvP gamer of some renown, let alone pay the teleport fare to get there from Ludis, Parzival’s school-world. Both of them are Gunters, hunters of Halladay’s fabled ‘Easter Egg’ to whomever finds it, wins ownership of the Oasis and the majority stake in Gregarous Systems Inc., the company who runs the Oasis. Three keys, lead to three gates, lead to the Easter Egg.
Wade is extremely lucky when he finds the first key, only beaten by Art3mis, a player Wade has a cybercrush on. After besting an AI in a game of Joust, Wade moves forward in his quest to find the copper gate and the other keys. He comes to meet his rival Gunters who become known as the ‘High 5’: Aech (naturally), Art3mis, and Daito and Shoto, a duo from Japan. The High 5 are hunted by Nolan Sorrento, head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (IOI) and their Gunter-squad, the Sixers. Wade’s adventure takes him from the Oasis to the real world, to IOI headquarters in Cleveland to Oregon where not only does he become a celebrity and a star, but the friends he has made become friends in the real world too. The hunt for the egg takes a major climax with an all-out Mecha battle between the High-5 and IOI with Wade at the helm for the last shot to get the egg before Sorrento and his goonies can.
The Trials (listed here because I think they were pretty awesome):
Copper Key – 1v1 session of Joust (Arcade).
Copper Gate – (Atari 2600) Dungeons of Daggorath, opens to VR line karaoke of ‘War Games’.
A SIDE QUEST?! – The perfect game of Pac-Man, (nets Wade a quarter, which is an extra life in the Oasis).
Jade Key – Text Adventure game of Zork.
Jade Gate – A Voight-Kampff machine from Blade Runner, opens to First Person Perspective of Black Tiger.
Crystal Key – A guitar found on the planet Syrinx, in reference to a song by the band Rush.
Crystal Gate – Achieve a higher score than 728,329 in Tempest, VR line karaoke of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.
I loved the book. It was cheeky, funny and just enough geek without going over the top with it. I loved the characters and had anticipation for when you finally meet them for the first time in the real world. The only thing I did really find a bit winding is the depiction of Earth. If there was anything the author wanted you to know, it was how much the planet is messed up. Politics, climate change, nobody getting along and a resource war over oil and everything in-between. I get it. The world is bleak and miserable.
I was weary when I saw “Whil” Wheaton as the narrator. No offense to Whil, but I was never enamored with his voice, not in the way you might think a voice narrator to be. I was however pleasantly surprised! Whil does a great job with characters of all shapes and sizes. Now I couldn’t think of a better person to narrate these characters.
A word of caution for any potential readers – this book is very niche. It is heavily layered with pop culture references that, having been born in the 80s even I needed to look up what he was talking about. However if you are a fan of retro and don’t mind taking a quick peek at Wikipedia to address confusion? This is a great read for you too.
Now bring the movie back in.
The movie will spoil nothing for you, as it cut out most of what made the book awesome. If you want to dive back into the world of Ready Player One for a fresh take? I would definately recommend a listen.
Story: 4.5 of 5.
For great pacing, well-thought characters, dynamic character relationships. Niche content.
Narrator: 5 of 5
Well-done character voices, suspenseful reading and just the right amount of nerd to voice a nerd.