Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton
Published in audio by Random House Audio, published in print by Crown, both imprints of Random House
In 2044 people are going hungry and electricity is unreliable at best. To serve as a distraction from the constant misery, most people barely even live in the real world any more anyway. Instead, they are plugged almost constantly into the virtual reality called the OASIS. For Wade Watts, the OASIS is basically the only thing he has going. In the real world he is an orphan living with his mildly abusive aunt who steals all his food vouchers. After the death of the OASIS’s creator James Halliday, Wade finally seems a glimpse of hope for his future in the Easter Egg Halliday left for whichever game can solve his puzzles. Somehow, Wade is the first among the millions of Gunters (Egg Hunters) to solve the first riddle and locate the first key, but he can’t rest on his laurels, because the Sixers are right behind him. The Sixers will stop at nothing to find the Egg, and if they do the idyll of the OASIS will be lost forever.
Thoughts on the story:
If you lived through the 80s, were born in the 80s, or have ever watched VH1’s I Love the 80s you are probably going to want to read this book. It is a bit heavy on video games, but the cultural references are accessible to anyone who has ever seen a John Hughes movie, and explained well enough that readers will get the gist of anything they weren’t already aware of, without being annoyed by excessive exposition on things they are well aware of.
Cultural references are all well and good, but what is really important to know about Ready Player One is that it is a really good story. Wade is a wonderful protagonist, extremely kind-hearted, but also flawed and driven. His surrounding cast of characters is diverse and easy to relate to, but epic quest on which they find themselves is the real star of the book. Halliday’s Easter Egg quest is fun, suspenseful, and just complicated enough to really capture the imagination.
Thoughts on the audio production:
Wil Wheaton did a magnificent job narrating Ready Player One. Really just phenomenal. His young American characters didn’t have a huge differentiation in voice, but it was never a problem to tell who was speaking, and he did include accents for some other characters. The best part about Wheaton’s narration was his unending enthusiasm, which made an already fun book an absolutely joy to listen to.
Ready Player One is really great, and I’m sure it would be marvelous in print, but Wil Wheaton’s narration lends it that extra oomph, so get ahold of it in audio if you can!
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