I reviewed Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One in September when it came out in hardcover. It’s now out in paperback, and so I’m reprinting my review in exchange for a giveaway for one of you. And check out this very awesome new cover gif (aside from the cool effect I got to share with you, I like this cover a lot better than the hardcover).
I was drawn to it, because it was described as a sort of quirky genre-busting novel, which are among my favorite to read — when they work.
I’m not sure how genre-busting it is, but this book did work for me. Immediately, this novel felt like the popular dystopian genre that is so prevalent in YA literature right now, one that many adults are appropriating for their own as well. In addition to that, though it’s set in 2045, 80’s culture has made a comeback, so there are lots of references to all-things 80’s such as John Hughes movies, Family Ties, Matthew Broderick, spiked hair, and acid-washed jeans. Every time one of those references popped up, I smiled.
In addition to that kind of popular culture, 80’s computer and video games are critical to the plot. From one of the first computer game ever, Adventure, to the arcade game that everyone loved, Pac-Man, it’s all here.
When billionaire James Halliday, founder of the virtual reality OASIS died, he announced a contest (via pre-recorded video) stating that he was leaving his fortune to the first person to find the Easter Egg (a hidden item coded into games and software). “Gunters” such as 18-year-old Wade Watts, known by his avatar’s name Parzival, have stocked up on knowledge of all things Halliday, mostly 80’s culture and computers, hoping that it will help them figure out where the Easter Egg is hiding.
For a year, nothing happens. No one finds anything, but then the first gate is uncovered by Wade and another gunter, and the race is on. Parzival is one of them, and the other is Art3mis, a gunter who Parzival has a virtual crush on. Lines are blurred between online interactions and reality. Most teens like Wade live their entire lives inside OASIS. Games are played, and many people even opt to enroll in the OASIS-based school. Due to the immersive nature of it, you aren’t just looking at a screen. You are in the game/school, appearing as your avatar.
I’m floundering on the plot summary, so take this from the PR info I received:
Ready Player One opens in the year 2044. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes a grim, poverty-stricken reality by spending his waking hours jacked into a sprawling online utopia known as the OASIS, where you can be anything you want to be, and where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, he is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket: somewhere within this alternate reality lies hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
This is an adult book, but I see it crossing over to YA readers (especially young men), because of its 18-year-old protagonist and the popular themes. In fact, with the title that nods to a video game and the bright colors, my own 13-year-old daughter picked it more than once wondering if it was for her. It’s definitely not a middle-school read, due to some mature themes and language, but honestly the upper end of YA frequently explores those kinds of themes, so it’s right in line with what high schoolers who like to read generally select for themselves.
In honor of the paperback release — today June 5 — I have a copy to give away to one of you. Please leave a comment if you’d like to win, and we’ll announce the winner in our June 20 giveaway column. The giveaway is closed.
If you live in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, the West Coast along with a few other random stops, you can see Ernest Cline on his author tour.
We have a TON of giveaways this summer! Don’t miss our current giveaways. Subscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter or on Facebook.
Jennifer Donovan admits to having Pac-Man fever, wearing acid-washed jeans, and having a little crush on Alex P. Keaton. She blogs at Snapshot.
I’m with you on the Alex P. Keaton crush. Have you seen that Michael J. Fox is on The Good Wife now?
Missional Mama says
I would like to win.
Thanks for this fascinating giveaway.
Barb: 1SentenceDiary says
This sounds like a good one for my son. He’s looking for some summer reading. (Well, in reality, I’m looking for some summer reading for him!)
Make sure to mention to your readers that Ernie has launched a contest to give away a Delorean this summer. The contest is based on the story-line of Ready Player One (complete a set of challenges) and is set up so that you have to complete the challenges in sequence in order to play. More info on the Ready Player One site or Ernie’s blog. Best of luck to all!
This book sounds really good.
June–You won! Please respond to this email with your shipping address.
This sounds like a really good book.
Pam ( says
Ah, I ADORED this. Pretty cute, isn’t it?
Beth C says
Love to read this! Thanks!
Ari J. says
A book about computer games? Sounds good!
Mary Preston says
READY PLAYER ONE does look very interesting.
Angela E. says
Would like to read.
Jessica T says
Hmmmm! Looks interesting!
Marilu Pigliapoco says
This sounds like a great book that I can share with my 16-year-old son.
Love Love Love this book. I am reading it now. I am not a gamer, or one for genre fiction,but man, best adventure I’ve read in a while. . .
Our young teen would read this.
Perfect for the young reader in our house.
I think my brother would love this!
I would love to read this, find the Easter Egg, complete all the levels and WIN THE DELOREAN! 🙂
Anita Yancey says
This book is very interesting and has an unusual cover. I would love to read it. Thanks for having this giveaway.
Lori D. says
What a good book to read.
Hailey L. says
Sounds very interesting!!
Will read for sure.
Sounds promising, will give it a shot.
Would enjoy reading this one.
Air Evac says
Recommended to me by someone who likes a good Sci-Fi, and it didn’t disappoint! One of those books that you can rip through, but I think it’s a nicely crafted standalone for anyone with an interest in gaming/RPGs/classic videogames, in particular!