Ready Player One / Ernest Cline

December 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

ReadyPlayerOne-audioBibliographic info
Ready Player One by Earnest Cline
Performed by Wil Wheaton
ISBN: 9780307913142
Random House Audio
Crown Publishers (2011)

Audiobook/Science Fiction, Crossover

Reading Level/Interest Age

Reader’s Annotation
In 2044, 17 year-old Wade Watts is just one of the many gamers whose waking hours are consumed by searching simulated reality platform OASIS for clues to the ultimate Easter Egg, hidden deep inside by late creator James Halliday. Then one day Wade discovers the first of three keys to the grand prize  and suddenly the game is on like never before.

Plot Summary
In 2044, everyone is dependent on the free multiplayer virtual reality platform known as OASIS, but for Wade Watts it’s more than a reliable resource. Overweight and stuck in the stacked trailer park of the future, Wade’s existence is defined by OASIS and the hunt for the ultimate Easter Egg that was hidden inside by late creator James Halliday. Only revealed by the successful retrieval of three keys, the grand prize ensures the winner fame, fortune and a commanding share of Halliday’s company. In pursuit of this elusive dream, Wade dedicates his waking hours to exhaustively studying the puzzles, video games and 80s pop culture Halliday loved. And for better or worse, he’s not alone. Thousands of  other so-called Gunters, including Wade’s best friend Aech and his crush Art3mis who are known only as avatars, are similarly obsesses as are the fleets of cheating corporate drones driven solely by greed. While years of hunting have made the Gunters a relatively peaceful community and the drones a common if laughable enemy, when Wade discovers the first key the game is on like never before and all bets are off.

Critical Evaluation

Fun, fast-paced and centered on a likable teenage underdog, Ready Player One was quickly embraced by the YA community for its crossover potential. Even before winning YALSA’s Alex Award for adult books with special young adult appeal in 2012, its high profile on many best of lists and ringing endorsement from School Library Journal (2011) put Cline’s debut on plenty of librarians’ radar and recommended reading lists. It’s not hard to see why. For gamers and sci fi fans of any age, Cline’s worldbuilding, rapid-fire references and knowing nods to the subtler facets of gamer culture make for a winning combination of a  love letter. These listeners will also have a special appreciation for the audiobook version read by sci fi/gaming icon Wil Wheaton, the 8-bit game that was released with the book and the fact that the print novel had an Easter Egg of its own (Boing Boing, 2012). Anyone, however, with a thirst for adventure will likely be able to get behind the high-stakes quest and low key romance that drive Wade’s narrative in Ready Player One. Fans can also look forward to the upcoming film.

About the Author
“Ernest Cline has worked as a short-order cook, fish gutter, plasma donor, elitist video store clerk, and tech support drone. His primary occupation, however, has always been geeking out, and he eventually threw aside those other promising career paths to express his love of pop culture fulltime as a spoken word artist and screenwriter. His 2009 film Fanboys, much to his surprise, became a cult phenomenon. These days Ernie lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, their daughter, and a large collection of classic video games. READY PLAYER ONE is his first novel.” (Goodreads, 2012)

Curriculum Ties
English, computer programming.

Book-talking Ideas

  • As Wade, describe how your life changed from the discovery of the first key. End with the pressure and attention placed on you in your dogged pursuit of the next key.
  • Set the scene of the near-future dystopian future and contrast the bleakness with the splendor of OASIS and the dream of Halliday Easter Egg.

Challenge Issues

Why was this included?
Ready Player One masterfully toes the line between appealing to gamers and non-gamers, pop culture geeks and non-pop culture geeks and adults and young adults. I felt it was a great pick for a crossover genre book.


Frauenfelder, M. (2012). Gweek 054: Win a DeLorean! Boing Boing. Retrieved from

Goodreads. (2012) Ernest Cline. Retrieved from

Kelly, K. (2012). From the G4 Bookshelf: Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. Retrieved from

Bonus features

Ernest Cline’s website

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