Book Review: Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a thrilling homage to ‘80s pop culture with a lovely romance. Since the Steven Spielberg helmed film is due to come out March 29, let’s take a look at the original novel by Ernest Cline.

Ready Player One follows Wade Watts, a high-school student in the economically and environmentally devastated America of 2044. Watts, and seemingly the rest of the world, only lives for the OASIS—a massively multiplayer online game. As his avatar Parzival, Watts pursues “Halliday’s Egg,” an incredible prize of over $240 billion, and control of the OASIS.

Along the way he befriends a handful of other pop-culture aficionado high schoolers while battling the “sixers,” players seeking Halliday’s Egg so their corporate overlords can control the OASIS. Pop-culture knowledge of the 1980s is essential to winning the prize, so all players seeking the egg steep their existence in ‘80s video games, Max Headroom, and John Hughes movies.

Today, almost 30 years after the ‘80s ended, it’s tempting to write off the decade. However, Ready Player One convincingly celebrates the legacy of the decade. Video games have evolved into a $100 billion industry and half of the highest grossing films of last year grew out of ‘80s properties. As a person born in the tail end of the decade, I was surprised at how many of the references I understood—and this book is chock full of pop-culture references!

Above all else though, this is just plain fun to read. It’s fun to join Parzival and his friends on their quest and challenge the mysteries they face. The ups and downs of Parzival and his rival Art3mis as they fall in and out of love feels just right, and provides some nice pathos to the story. No, Ready Player One isn’t going to change your life or make you a better person, but it just might help you have a better day.

Read Ready Player One before you see the movie! Click here to find Ready Player One in our collection.

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