Ready Player One

“In the OASIS, you could become whomever and whatever you wanted to be, without ever revealing your true identity, because your anonymity was guaranteed.” -Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Author: Ernest Cline

(4.27 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Fiction / YA / Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Format: Paperback

Publication Date: August 16, 2011, by Crown Publishers (Hardcover)

Pages: 374 (Paperback)

#ReadyPlayerOne #ErnestCline

You were born at a pretty crappy time in history. And it looks like things are only gonna get worse from here on out.

I remember the 80s fondly. Banana clips and plastic sandals (“jellies”) made up my everyday existence, as did Cabbage Patch Kids, Chic jeans, and neon. Hey, don’t knock it – those were great times! We could actually go outside and play, we didn’t have to wear seat belts in the car, and we still had Michael Jackson – the Beat It version (love ya, Mike!).

Ernest Cline kicks us back to the 80s – my beloved era – by way of the year 2044. I know that doesn’t sound right, but it’ll all make sense in a sec…

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 

If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away…

My March Movie Madness series continues this week with Ready Player One, which seems kind of perfect in that it’s about gaming, and one of my favorite Nintendo games got a reboot that released this past Friday. Shout out to all the Animal Crossing: New Horizons players! But I am about as far from a true “gamer” as one can get; however, I do recognize the breed.

When Ready Player One hit theaters, I wasn’t initially aware of all the intense controversy surrounding it. Book purists were incensed by the departures and liberties taken for the sake of big screen audiences. I can relate to that for the most part. I know what it’s like to love a story and then to be disappointed when it’s depicted differently on screen than you imagined. Taking a book from page to screen is always bound to disappoint somebody.

These three words were always the last thing an OASIS user saw before leaving the real world and entering the virtual one: READY PLAYER ONE.

Things I appreciated about the book have mostly to do with the nostalgia it made me feel. As we discussed, the book is set in a dystopian future, but tech genius, James Halliday, was a child of the 80s and completely obsessed with that era. Therefore, we’ve got 80s pop culture references to beat the band all throughout this story. Catch them all, if you can.

Even though people of a certain age – me included – will easily recognize and translate these references in Cline’s book, sometimes pop culture references actually work better on screen for a wider audience. Who can deny that describing a Delorean decked out with a Flux Capacitor is way clunkier than just putting a shiny one on the screen in the middle of an amazing race scene?!

But, in the end, both mediums persevere because they carry through the primary themes of tenacity, cooperation, and connection while incorporating a challenging quest, zealous bad guys, and an enigmatic love interest. So let the book purists rage, and let the gaming-geeks complain, but there is true adventure in Ready Player One, and I don’t think it should be missed no matter how you choose to take it in.

Ready Player One Movie Trailer

Ernest Cline

Ernest Christy Cline is an American novelist, slam poet, and screenwriter. He is known for his novels Ready Player One and Armada; he also co-wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg. -Bio from Google

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