Narrator: Wil Wheaton
Published by Random House Audio on August 16th, 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 15 hrs and 46 mins
It's the year 2044, and 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 sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
At the beginning of the year, I made it one of my resolutions for 2014 to give audiobooks a shot. After discovering that Ready Player One – which I’d already heard plenty of GREAT things about – was narrated by Wil Freaking Wheaton, I decided this would be a great place for me to start. And it was. Great story + great performance = hours of great entertainment.
Ready Player One has been raved about, and for good reason. This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys gaming and 80’s pop culture. Basically, it tells the story of Wade Watts, a teenage boy, who participates in a scavenger hunt set up by the late creator of OASIS – a virtual reality game, which became so popular that most people live and breathe in that world instead of the real one. The billionaire creator, Halliday, died, but in his will he stated that he hid “Easter eggs” in the game, and the person who can solve his puzzles will inherit everything. People have been hunting down the Easter eggs for years – to no avail – making a study of the creator’s life and his obsessions, which mostly focus on ’80s pop culture. There’s just so much geeky fun here – for gamers and lovers of the ’80s.
The geekery is what made Wil Wheaton’s performance absolutely perfect. Anyone who knows of him will know of his great geeky personality, and as such, his voice fit Wade absolutely perfectly. But not only that – he has a great range of vocal inflection that makes the story super entertaining. He made the audiobook completely addictive to listen to, and I’m sad that he hasn’t done more of these, because I WANT THEM.
But anyway, the world building here is completely amazing. I am such a fan of virtual reality type stories, but none have done it as well as Ready Player One. It’s really everything you’d imagine virtual reality to be – and the way there’s magic and technology in those worlds, leveling up and battling akin to an MMORPG, different planets based on different themes (i.e. Star Wars, Star Trek, Dungeons and Dragons) – it’s immerse, engaging, and presented in glorious detail. But the book also perfectly captures the societal aspect of having such virtual reality software: the real world has basically become completely run down, people choose OASIS over reality, schools are now attended online, people don’t even really have to leave their houses anymore, and corporations are getting vicious over the hunt for the Easter eggs. The concept is really thorough, detailed, and well thought out – I absolutely loved it.
I dunno about you guys, but I’m a super fan of scavenger hunt type stories, so from page one, I was totally engaged. The story was excellent, and I loved following Wade as he pieced together clues, while also strategizing on how best to move forward with potential allies. The story even takes some turns to the dramatic, as they face the IOI corporation, who with their underhanded tactics pose a serious threat to them in real life. The latter half of the story suddenly became thrillingly action-packed, and I was on the edge of my seat. The only downside, really, to this story was that I feel like so much detail was put into the world and the story that the characters themselves were not as interesting.