Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

September 13, 2017 Book Reviews, Fall, Spring, Summer Reading, Winter Reading 0

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest ClineReady Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown Publishers on August 16th 2011
Pages: 374
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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.


Being an 80’s child, I am so glad to read something like this. I am fascinated with all things 80’s, whether it’s music, movies, books, you name it, I love it. This book had a great throw back feeling that allows the reader to revisit the 80’s but without shoving it down their throats.

The premise of the story is quite simple. This is in the future when all things are done on the internet. Everyone lives, plays, and works in this virtual world. As a gamer, I love this idea. Also, as someone that doesn’t venture outside often, I think this is brilliant. Especially in winter. I do not need to go outside during winter, thank you very much!

In the year 2044, this is an ordinary lifestyle. Even so, Wade Watts is still an gamer and outcast. Not that the two are synonymous, but in his case they might as well be. He has very few friends and family so being online is his lifeline. I loved his character. I probably relate to him a little too much, but in my teens I didn’t want to venture outside at all. I wanted to stay inside with a good book! Wade would definitely understand. Wade however, has a goal in mind. To get to the hidden easter egg that was hidden within an elaborate game. But, he’s not the only one looking for it and when people find out he’s on the right track, they’ll do anything to stop him from getting to it first. Anything.

I listened to this through audible and I loved every minute. It’s fresh, fun, super exciting and completely relevant to today and our future. I love the imagination that Ernest Clines brings to this just as much as all his 80’s references. I was going to make a list but Shmoop has an enormous, fantastic list for us. I’m going to narrow down to the books and movies I want to see in the near future but if you want the list in it’s entire check THIS link out.

The science fiction portion also makes sense from a gamer perspective. Fortunately, sci fi can get away with a lot if taken from gaming. It’s not the same world and as such can be treated differently. That said, from a human perspective, I was a bit perturbed that his aunt never shows up. He winds up being away for days, skips school, and he doesn’t get so much as a phone call. Although he is older than many teens in YA, he is still in high school. I hate this trope. Parental guidance should always be there. That said, they were not close, but ugh… still.

His other friends, he slowly gains a few as he goes through the riddles, are fantastic. I really enjoyed H. He seems as real as a friend can be on the internet. There for Wade when he can be but when Wade starts acting like an idiot, H does what only real friends can do; he lets Wade know that he is being a jackass. I really liked their relationship. Although it must be difficult to have a friendship while competing. The competition did strain their relationship a bit, and that made complete sense and followed the plot line.

There were some ups and downs that I did not anticipate also. While it was a fun book, there is a main villain and that villain will stop at nothing to get to the prize. Wade handles himself quite well. Sadly, though, I didn’t feel much for the villain. I wanted more villainy from him. Wade lets his pride take over and acts like an arrogant ass, so the one time the reader gets to see the villain up close is the one time we also see Wade be a complete idiot. Took away from the villainy a bit because by that point I was rooting for the wrong team!

Other than that, I had such a great time with this. Will Wheaton narrated and he had the perfect voice for Wade. I also laughed a bit when Will Wheaton is mentioned by name in the book. I wonder how that must feel knowing that you are a pop icon?! I imagine it’s pretty strange. His inflection didn’t even change as he read his own name!

In short, this book is simply fun! I loved all the pop culture references. They were etched into the story in a way that makes sense.



Literary and Philosophical References

  • Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (4.13)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings trilogy (4.13) (8.72)
  • Anne McCaffrey, The Dragonriders of Pern (4.13)
  • Arrakis is a planet in Frank Herbert’s Dune (4.13)
  • Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (4.13)
  • Mid-World is from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series (4.13)
  • Riverworld is from a series of books by Philip Jose Farmer (4.13)
  • Larry Niven’s Ringworld (4.13)
  • Kurt Vonnegut (6.6)
  • Neal Stephenson (6.6)
  • Richard K. Morgan (6.6)
  • Orson Scott Card (6.6)
  • Terry Brooks (6.6)
  • Ray Bradbury (6.6)
  • Joe Haldeman (6.6)
  • Robert Heinlein (6.6)
  • Jack Vance (6.6)
  • William Gibson (6.6)
  • Neil Gaiman (6.6)
  • Bruce Sterling (6.6)
  • Michael Moorcock (6.6)
  • John Scalzi (6.6)
  • Roger Zelazny (6.6)
  • William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest
  • William Gibson, Neuromancer (18.9)
  • Cory Doctorow (20.5)
  • A Vorpal sword (21.30) is from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”

Pop Culture References

This massive list of pop culture references is what the book is all about. Stumped on an obscure reference from the ’80s? Or born after 1990 and have no clue what’s going on? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. 

  • Ghostbusters
  • Family Ties
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 
  • The X-Men 
  • Green Lantern
  • Cosmos
  • The Last Starfighter
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Sixteen Candles
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Some Kind of Wonderful
  • The Breakfast Club 
  • Weird Science
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Airplane!
  • Howard the Duck
  • Krull
  • Highlander II
  • WarGames
  • The Goonies
  • Superman: The Movie
  • Legend
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Firefly/Serenity
  • The Matrix
  • Back to the Future
  • Ghostbusters 
  • Real Genius
  • Better Off Dead
  • Revenge of the Nerds 
  • Lord of the Rings (movies)
  • Mad Max
  • Indiana Jones (whole series)
  • Land of the Lost 
  • The Beastmaster 
  • Excalibur 
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior 
  • Rain Man
  • Footloose 
  • Tron (10.27)
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • 2010
  • Risky Business
  • The Dark Crystal 
  • Revenge of the Nerds
  • Phantasm
  • The Wizard of Oz 
  • The Space Giants
  • The Addams Family (
  • Evil Dead 
  • Fight Club 
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show 
  • Kikaider
  • Spectreman
  • Supaidaman and his robot, Leopardon
  • Misfits of Science
  • Gamera (20.11)
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 
  • Blade Runner
  • Hard Boiled (26.27)
  • The Killer (26.27)
  • The Iron Giant (26.66)
  • Johnny Sokko and his Flying robot (26.66)
  • Explorers (28.1)
  • Big Trouble in Little China
  • Mazinger Z
  • Mobile Suit Gundam
  • Brave Raideen

Thank you to Shmoop for this extensive list! This isn’t even the entire thing. They also have references and music that was in the book. Amazing job!

Rating Report
4.5 / 5
Character Development
4 / 5
Writing Style
5 / 5
Personal enjoyment
5 / 5
5 / 5
Overall: 4.7 / 5



ERNEST CLINE is a novelist, screenwriter, father, and full-time geek. His first novel, Ready Player One, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, appeared on numerous “best of the year” lists, and is set to be adapted into a motion picture by Warner Bros. and director Steven Spielberg. His second novel, ARMADA, debuted at #4 on the NYT Bestseller list and is being made into a film by Universal Pictures. Ernie lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, a time-traveling DeLorean, and a large collection of classic video games.










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