Ernest Cline who wrote Ready Player One in 2011 could have scarcely predicted that his vision (or preview) of the dystopian future would turn stale and sour less than a decade after the book’s publication. The proliferation of VR sets has rendered the once groundbreaking Literary Role Playing Game (LitRPG) genre farcical if not downright anachronistic. This pesky fact notwithstanding, the book works. It is surprisingly popular with readers not because the writer painted a realistic future they can expect in the coming decades, but rather because he showed them the past they are yearning for. He struck a chord with a nostalgic audience whose coming of age occurred during the scintillating synth-pop era. The book is bursting with clever nods to the geek-fodder of the 1980s. The author takes cherished pop icons of the era and bangs them against one another in a manner not uncharacteristic of a 4-year-old kid playing with plastic action figures. As the pandemonium of pop-cultural icons breaks out, one can hardly notice how dystopian the depicted future really is. For more discernible readers, it is thoroughly clear from the outset that the disheveled world is completely devoid of Christian, family, or any other values except corporatism. It is also understandable that the world is broken beyond repair and a teenager with no living parent – Wade – cannot mend it. In this book review, I will argue that the novel perfectly exemplifies unrestrained and self-indulgent pandering to the readers’ desire to be rewarded for mediocrity.


Ready Player One Book Characters

Parzival or Wade Watts, who is the main character of the book, functions as a bridge through which other characters both alive and deceased gallop, waltz, leap, scurry, and march toward the readers. The teenager introduces the audience to scrappy heroes with zany avatar names. There is Art3mis – a flirtatious denizen of the virtual world whose preoccupation with Easter eggs is only matched by her inexplicable pull toward Wade. Having done a great job developing the character, Cline bungles all the progress by failing to distinguish Artemis from her virtual milieu: by the end of the book, she is turned into a reward for Watt who finds her in the middle of a labyrinth. Even more obnoxious than the labyrinth scene is i-r0k (alternatively spelled as i-rok or irok) who helps the head of Innovative Online Industries (IOI) Nolan Sorrento and the Sixers to find the first key. The sparkling world created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow is home to Chucky, Gundam, Iron Giant, Mechagodzilla, and Voltron among others. The list of pop-culture icons, goodies, and qutes if too long to place it here without transforming the essay into a listicle.

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Ready Player One Discussion Questions

The unbridled use of alliteration and allusion turns the book into an Easter egg hunt for literary-minded readers. It is as if Cline challenges his audience to pay attention to a witty turn of phrase. Those belonging to a book club can make a scoreboard and entertain themselves with the literary device hunt. Alternatively, they can pose and try to answer several book club questions: “What does OASIS stand for in Ready Player One?”, “What is the motivation of people claiming that everything wrong with race scene, in general, and DeLorean car, in particular?”, “Does anybody think they will make the OASIS from Ready Player One?”, “Who made the OASIS and why?”, “Has VR been created to enslave people?”, “How did Ready Player One get the rights to popular characters?”, “Is there a sequel?”, “Can the final battle be interpreted as a beta version of Apocalypse?”, “Is Ready Player One good representation of the 1980s pop-culture?”, and “Has the ending explained the way out for the humanity?”


Why Is Ready Player One So Different from the Book?

Even though the screen adaptation of the futuristic novel strikingly differs from the Cline’s original story, the philosophical spirit that informed the book is very much in evidence. Ready Player One philosophy of the full-scale humanitarian crisis in VR and IRL (in real world) is there. Thus, it can hardly be argued that book better than movie. At the same time, the question begs the answer: “How close are we to Ready Player One technology?” At this point, it is an article of faith for many people that rampant technological escapism is inevitable. Given that the book’s quotes about reality (e.g. “Going outside is highly overrated”) are eerily reminiscent of sentiments held by our society, we should be more than cautious about creating a real life OASIS. Do you think the Ready Player One technology will come to life in the future?

All References in Ready Player One Book and Cameos Galore

Reay Player One Easter eggs, 80s references, and themes are head-spinning. The list of anime allusions (e.g., Evangelion) and games paraphernalia (e.g., Overwatch) is too long to even mention here, but it certainly makes for a wild ride. That being said, one should not necessarily understand every pop culture reference in order to enjoy the book. The menagerie of quirky characters is infinitely amusing in its own right.

Ready Player One Analysis: The Book Is Bad?

The controversy that erupted over the book has completely engulfed the literary blogosphere. Harsh criticism has not spared either the author, who was accused of racism, or the protagonist, who has been proclaimed a bad guy. The novel itself has been repeatedly called sexist and overrated. The worst quotes about the book include such masterpieces of biting writing as “a dull, pandering tableau of reference points as an end unto themselves” and “a one-note celebration of pop-culture nostalgia.” So why has the book garnered so much scorn from the readers whose differences of opinion…