A review by shandyt
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


3.5 stars, rounded down.

I've always been a sucker for adventure stories built around puzzles—The Goonies, Die Hard 3, the Uncharted game series, The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, and Indiana Jones 3 are amongst my favorite media (guilty pleasures, in a couple cases, but that's neither here nor there). Thus, the first time I read this book, I was taken in by the premise, and let myself get carried along without looking at things too critically. In the year of our lord 2021, I decided to give the book a reread. It... did not hold up very well. Between the excruciating 40-something-dude take on teen speak, the insensitive handling of cultural issues (no, 'seppuku' is not synonymous with 'suicide', for one), the tired and sexist romance tropes, and the cardboard characters, so much of the book is just cringe-worthy, even in this post-cringe-culture era. Even the parts that aren't, just aren't as satisfying anymore. I've spent the last several years learning how to build a fun puzzle experience through DM-ing D&D, and I can think of SO many more interesting ways to adapt classic movies into game scenarios than just having the player recite them line by line. Nor do I believe it would be possible for someone to do so on the fly without having seriously practiced for it—I've seen Inception 15 times and I can still only quote you the big moments with any accuracy.

Ultimately, if you grew up in the 80's and are obsessed with the culture, or if you're just not that concerned with the 'wokeness' of the media you ingest, maybe this book is alright. Otherwise, skip it, and just rewatch WarGames or play Adventure instead.