Friday, January 25, 2019

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One was selected as one of the 100 Great American Reads last year by voters on PBS last fall.  With the movie out last year as well, I was curious about this book.  To move it up my reading list, I chose it as the book my husband and I would read for couples’ book club. Rogue Book Club (AKA FLICKS Book and Movie Club) tried something new this month.  We invited the husbands and had a dinner together.  Couples were supposed to read a book together and discuss the book.  Ben and I were the only couple that discussed our book, so I’m not sure if this really worked . . . but as a social gathering it worked great.

Ben and I are both fans of post-apocalyptic /dystopian fiction so Ready Player One appealed to both of us. This book was also written with both us in mind as we are nerds that grew up in the 1980’s.  I loved the numerous 1980’s cultural references as did my husband.  I was not a videogame player, so he caught more of those references than I did.  We watched the movie last summer with our family and we all enjoyed it.  The book is very different from the movie, but I thought the differences worked well.  The book spends much more time building the world up.  The book is action packed, but the action would not have transferred well to the big screen as most of it involved playing arcade or computer video games so I’m glad they made changes for the movie.

Wade Watts is a teenager is a post-apocalyptic Kansas City.  The world is a dire place to live after an energy crisis, nuclear warfare, and environmental disasters.  Most people zone out and live in the virtual “OASIS.”  Watts spends most of his time there including attending school.  What he really enjoys and obsesses over is trying to solve the riddle of the creator of the Oasis’ final challenge.  Whoever can master the challenge will automatically be the heir of James Halliday’s estate.  Will Wade be able to solve the challenge before the evil “sixers” do?

This is a book where you can’t think too much about what caused the apocalypse or how the world is built as it doesn’t really make sense.  My husband is a structural engineer and had a real hard time with the towers of trailers.  Why would they need to be built and why?  It doesn’t make much sense.

This book would be a perfect read for my 12-year-old son except for a brief section in the middle of the novel.  Wade has locked himself alone in an apartment and is an 18-year old male.  He goes through phase of having virtual sex with a robot doll (the doll is real) through a simulation on the OASIS.  There is also a lot of talk of masturbation and pornography.  This section really served no purpose and I wish it wasn’t in the book. This would lead to some awkward conversations from my son who at this point runs away during movies when the two leads even kiss . . . it was disappointing as otherwise this book would be appropriate for him.  I’ll wait a couple of more years before recommending it to him.

Ready Player One is a good action novel and is very entertaining, but I don’t believe this novel will stand the test of time.  The 1980’s cultural references work well for someone who grew up during that time period and was a nerd that loved Star Wars, Star Trek, movies, ads, shows, and products of that time.  Will my grandchildren understand these references?  They provide a lot of humor and background for the plot.  You would be missing a lot if you don’t understand the references.  I do think the message of a virtual world being fun, but not real is played out well throughout the novel as you can see in my favorite quotes below.

Favorite Quotes:
“You could log in and instantly escape the drudgery of your day-to-day life.  You could create an entirely new persona for yourself, with complete control over how you looked and sounded to others.  In the OASIS, the fat could become thin, the ugly could become beautiful, and the shy, extroverted.”

“Standing there, under the bleak fluorescents of my tiny one-room apartment, there was no escaping the truth.  In real life, I was nothing but an antisocial hermit.  A recluse.  A pale-skinned pop culture-obsessed geek.  An agoraphobic shut-in, with no real friends, family, or genuine human contact.  I was just another sad, lost, lonely soul, wasting his life on a glorified videogame.”

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world.  I didn’t know how to connect with the people there.  I was afraid, for all of my life.  Right up until I knew it was ending.  That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness.  Because reality is real.  Do you understand?”

Overall, Ready Player One is an entertaining adventure.

Book Source:  I purchased Ready Player One on


  1. Laura, thanks again for your honesty. You'll want to wait before lending this book to your son. I enjoy dystopian fiction from time to time.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Wonderful review! I really wanted to like this book. I grew up in the 90s so I didn't get any of the references and I am really in tune with pop culture.

    1. I was born in 1978 so the 1980s was my childhood. I think that is the problem with a book that has its main premise hing on pop culture from a certain era. . .