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Jun 15

Teens Review: Ready Player One

Posted on June 15, 2021 at 12:00 AM by Elizabeth Land

Two York County high school teens review Ready Player One by Ernest Cline for the Teens Review serie
Teens & Tweens Review is an opportunity for York County Public Library teens and tweens to write book reviews for their peers. 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was published in 2011 and was a blockbuster bestseller, followed up with a movie and a sequel published in November 2020. Today we have two reviews for this book from two York County teens. If you're interested in earning volunteer hours and writing a review of a book you've read, contact the Tabb Library youth services at 757-890-5110 or

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline book coverTitle/Author: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Genre: Science fiction

Reviewed by: Samantha R., 12th Grade
Rating: 5 Stars

The world of Ready Player One foresees a dark future for humanity, having an advanced technological society came at the cost of a lot of energy. Having plundered all the fossil fuels, the world was in a Global Energy crisis. Many people choose to ignore this grim reality by logging onto the “Oasis” a virtual reality where you had access to every piece of information ever published, you could travel to anywhere in the world, you could customize your own avatar, and could play a variety of popular games; all within a hyper-realistic world. Wade Watts follows this logic, using mindless escapism to forget his horrible life of poverty. A few years ago the creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, died and having no heirs he declared that anyone who could solve his three riddles and pass through the three gates to find the easter egg in the Oasis would be deemed worthy of his inheritance. After years of fruitless searching, Wade becomes the first player to unlock the first riddle and pass through the first gate. He has to be careful though, because everyone is willing to do just about anything to get their hands on the money including the dreaded IOI corporation, who are doing everything in their power to control the Oasis so they can charge people who play.
This Sci-fi dystopian combines nostalgic 80’s references and videogame subculture into a book loved by videogame nerds and people born in the 80s. Even if you aren’t into videogames or the 80s the plot and characters allow you to be sucked into the story and root for the unlikely hero that is Wade Watts. I very much enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the sci-fi genre.

Reviewed by: Tyler D., 11th Grade
Rating: 4 Stars

I got my physical copy of Ready Player One a few years ago, and I hesitated to read it. Of course, I was intrigued by the concept of a science-fiction, dystopian novel that is related to video games. I knew that I would enjoy the many pop culture references that this book was sure to have. However, I was worried that would be the extent of the book’s appeal. I had no solid idea of how the book would be written, and if the plot would be original or use stereotypical plot points that are seen in other pieces of literature. It was after seeing the movie that I decided to read the book, mainly because I always feel tempted to go back and read the book to see if the movie adapted it poorly.
While I can say I’m indifferent about which version is better to consume, I can say that reading does allow for more of your own imagination. The novel is 400 pages long, of which I read the entirety. It feels almost like a first-person documentary at the beginning, as the main character describes the creation and legacy of the virtual program that dominates everyone’s life. Speaking of this program, I like the plot point that the reason the world is a dystopia is because everyone is too busy playing a life simulator to care. It is a seemingly more unique idea, as most dystopian novels go the route of “dictatorship ruined the world”. As the story progresses, and the main character starts to become more involved in the grand scheme, it begins to feel more like a traditional young-adult novel about an adventure.
Towards the end is where I became less interested, because of tropes. At this point in the novel, I had realized the dynamic between the heroes of the story, which took my enthusiasm about their struggle away. The protagonist is a teenager of average mind and body, who is being orbited by a teenage love interest and his teenage friends, who are either funny or annoying depending on who you ask (I tend to go with the latter). The main antagonist, though they aren’t a strict government, is still quite generic because it is a large organization using force and power to achieve a similar goal to the protagonist, or to stop him. Also, there is a large battle scene in which all the important characters who were present in the book engage against the enemy. The unoriginality of these elements took away from the experience for me.
Ready Player One is an entertaining action story that would have been saved by adding more complexity to the plot and characters.

YCPL Readalikes

If you're looking for more books like Ready Player One, try one these great options:

  • The Glare by Margot Harrison
    Summary: Moving to her father's home in California after a decade at her mother's isolated ranch, a teen who has been taught to fear technology reunites with friends and family members before experiencing nightmares about a dark-web video game that poses life-threatening dangers.
  • The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
    Summary: The Impossible Fortress begins with a magazine...The year is 1987 and Playboy has just published scandalous photographs of Vanna White, from the popular TV game show Wheel of Fortune. For three teenage boys—Billy, Alf, and Clark—who are desperately uneducated in the ways of women, the magazine is somewhat of a Holy Grail: priceless beyond measure and impossible to attain. So, they hatch a plan to steal it. Failed attempt after failed attempt leads them to a genius master plan—they'll swipe the security code to Zelinsky's convenience store by seducing the owner's daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy's mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green book coverBut Mary isn't your average teenage girl. She's a computer-loving expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. But what starts as a game to win Mary's affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: deceive the girl who may well be his first love or break a promise to his best friends.
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green 
    Summary: The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her friend Andy make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight. Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us. Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring from the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye.