• Rachel Penate

READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

TITLE/ AUTHOR: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

PUBLISHER: Crown Publishers (2011)

GENRE: Futuristic Fiction with a sentimental take on the 1980's, specifically video game culture.

★★★★☆ (4.5)

SUMMARY: "IN THE YEAR 2044, reality is an ugly place.The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape." (Adapted from Goodreads)

REVIEW: "A Love Note to the 80's"

I'm a proud member of the "1990's childhood club." I danced to the Spice Girls, watched Disney's The Little Mermaid on repeat, and owned an impressive collection of gel pens. But, reading Ernest Cline's Ready Player One almost convinced me that I have a sentimentality for a decade that began 10 years before I was even conceived. Ready Player One is Ernest Cline's love note to the 1980's. And, I'm grateful he decided to share that love note with the world.

Ready Player One takes place in 2044, in a run-down America — torn apart from war and famine. After the death of James Halliday, the nation's most famous video game programmer, Wade Watts devotes his entire life to finding Halliday's hidden Easter Egg in his virtual world — the "Oasis;" an Easter Egg containing the entirety of Halliday's multi-billion-dollar fortune. The book is fast-paced and wildly entertaining but it is gracefully rooted more deeply than its cultural references. Ernest Cline has masterfully composed a "rags-to-riches" story that exemplifies the value in pursing something greater than you could have ever imagined for yourself, despite the odds.

Although Ready Player One follows a futuristic culture rooted in virtual reality, I found every moment fascinating. As though I was learning about a new culture for the first time, Cline writes in such a way that his reader is welcomed into this world as a visitor — gently introduced to the environment, history, and context for the society in which Ready Player One's characters live. I did not understand or relate to every video game reference mentioned, but I did relate to the emotions that exist when you fight for something you believe in — having to work hard to convince the world you are worthy of the accomplishments you set your mind to. And, all the while, nodding in agreement to the value placed upon friendship, and its worthwhile pursuit, despite the ever undulating course of building and cultivating relationships.

Ready Player One is one of my favorite books of 2018. I highly recommend taking a trip into the world of the Oasis and cheering along Wade as he pursues his ultimate goal: Being the best video gamer in the world.


  • Liked — A great read for anyone interested in a quick-paced "race to the finish.

  • Disliked — Heavily doused with references to 1980's culture and gamer lingo.

Link to Buy the Book

Other Reviews: New York Times, Goodreads, Focus on the Family

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