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Ready Player One Summary & Study Guide

Ernest Cline
This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ready Player One.
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Ready Player One Summary & Study Guide Description

Ready Player One Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Ready Player One is the first novel by writer Ernest Cline. This novel is about a young, poor teenager living in a future world where chaos reigns and most people forget their miserable existence by spending most of their time inside the virtual world of OASIS. This teenager, Wade, is one of millions of gunters, people hunting for the hidden Easter egg within the OASIS that was left by its creator, James Halliday, upon his death. The successful gunter will inherit Halliday's entire estate as well as controlling power over his company, Gregarious Simulation Systems. The task seems daunting, especially to a poor kid like Wade who has to access the OASIS on a cheap console issued by the school. However, sometimes intelligence is a much more powerful weapon than expensive equipment. Ready Player One is a fun and exciting adventure novel that not only takes the reader into a future world where anything is possible in the virtual worlds inside the OASIS, but also on a nostalgic trip back to the era of big hair, heavy metal bands, and Atari.

Wade Watts was just thirteen years old when the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, died. Upon his passing, Halliday released an invitation to everyone using his virtual universe program, OASIS, to search for his Easter Egg, a hidden program code within the OASIS. To find the egg, hunters must first find three keys and pass through the three gates these keys open. The invitation began a world wide obsession with finding the elusive keys, but after five years, no one has been successful. Wade has done extensive research on Halliday in his own search for the key, but like everyone else he has no clue as to where the first clue is pointing hunters.

Wade lives with his aunt in an overcrowded trailer in an equally overcrowded trailer park dubbed the stacks because of the way in which the trailers are stacked to make more room. Within the stacks are piles of antique cars that were piled out of the way when the trailer park first began to grow. Wade has a hideout under one of these stacks of cars where he often hides from his thieving aunt and other bullies and criminals. It is here that Wade hides his school issued OASIS console, where he attends a virtual high school within OASIS's programing and continues his private hunt for Halliday's Easter egg. It is also here that Wade finally decodes the first clue and finds the first key.

After clearing the first key and gate, Wade's avatar, Parzeval, in OASIS becomes world famous. Wade begins earning money with endorsement deals that use his avatar's appearance and name. Wade also gets all kinds of email, including emails from the global communications conglomerate, Innovative Online Industries, or IOI. IOI is also hunting for the Easter egg and they send Wade an email offering him a job. Wade decides to meet with the CEO of IOI just out of curiosity. The CEO, Sorrento, offers Wade a job with IOI helping to find the Easter Egg. When Wade refuses, Sorrento then offers him five million dollars to tell him where the first key and gate can be found. When Wade refuses that as well, Sorrento tells him that they know who Wade is in the real world and they will kill him if he refuses to help. Wade refuses still. A short time later, the trailer where Wade lives with his aunt is destroyed by a bomb, causing its stack and several others to fall to the ground.

Wade takes the money that he has made with endorsement deals to move to another city and hide under an assumed identity. For six months Wade works trying to decipher the clue that is meant to lead to the second key and gate. However, Wade is distracted by an affection for a fellow gunter, Art3mis. When Art3mis breaks off the relationship and then finds the second key, Wade renews his efforts. Unfortunately, IOI finds the second key at the same time as Wade, then the third before anyone else. Wade has fallen behind on the scoreboard and it looks increasingly like IOI is going to win. This would be a disaster, however, because IOI will change OASIS, removing its free access to all users. Wade then doubles his efforts to find the key.

With clues from IOI's actions and his extensive knowledge of Halliday's appreciation of 1980s pop culture, Wade finds the second gate and the third key. Wade also knows where the third gate is hidden, but IOI found it first and have blocked it off. For this reason, Wade allows himself to be made an indentured servant for IOI and he uses his access to their internal computer systems to hack into their records. Wade then escapes and uses this information to rally the other gunters against IOI and find a way to break through IOI's defenses. A huge battle takes place ending with IOI setting off a bomb that kills every avatar within the sector where the third gate is located. However, Wade has in his possession a coin that gives him a second life. Wade is alone at the gate and is able to access it before anyone else. Despite the fact that IOI is right behind him, Wade successfully completes the third gate and finds Halliday's Easter egg.

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