Ready Player One: Book Vs. Movie (SPOILERS)

Posted April 2, 2018 by Amber in Bookish Things / 10 Comments



I really hate it when they make movies out of books I love.

At their core, there’s no way that the movie will hold up to my expectations.  I have been burned twice recently, what with the abomination of The Dark Tower, and my hopes plummeted when I saw the first trailer for Ready Player One.  As a book, Ready Player One is about overcoming your own personal demons and rising up to do what is right. As a movie, Ready Player One is a love story and at the end, a feeble attempt to tell gamers to go outside “because reality is the only thing that is real”.

So lets jump right in.


You have been warned.

The things I liked:

  • I thought OASIS was brilliantly done.  I’ve seen folks complain about the CGI element how how it felt like watching a video game, but I didn’t have that feeling at all.  Even though it was different from the book, the first challenge was exhilarating, especially as Wade (ahem, sorry, Parzival) goes backward through it in the code.  All in all I thought that world was stunningly built.
  • Lena Waithe was everything I wanted for Aech.  I have loads of other complaints about how this character was not treated justly, but that has nothing to do with Lena.  I thought she was brilliant.
  • Daito and Shoto.  In the books, these two gunters are really more of an afterthought.  I appreciated that they were more important in the movie – I always felt they really could have been left out of the book. 4/14 update:  WHAT WAS I THINKING.  Daito and Shoto were huge in the books!  If anything, the fact that Daito’s story changed lessened the strength of the plot!
  • i-Rok.  This character had such potential, even though he was a jerk and totally didn’t matter in the book.  In the movie, he was fun, smart, dangerous… and then just fell off at the end like he never even mattered… so why was he there.  BUT.  I really thought they were going to do some character growth and interestingness with him so I was along for that ride until I wasn’t.
  • The pop culture references.  I’m definitely a pop culture nerd, so my heart blossomed with every reference I recognized.

The things I didn’t like:

  • The pop culture references.  Dude – Halliday wasn’t a pop culture fanatic.  He was an 80s fanatic.  I’m sure the callouts to things like Arkham Knight and Overwatch are fun, but they aren’t in-character for Halliday.
  • Aech.  Actually, Aech was far and away the best character in the film.  But she was SO MUCH MORE in the book.  The fact that she was a girl wasn’t really surprising, and they totally left out that she was gay, which may not seem like a big deal, but if you don’t show that rep, it’s like it never existed.
  • The Real World.  This was such a mess.  There’s continuity issues (seriously how did a crowd have pretty signs and posters magically five minutes after arriving?  I have lots of these small complaints) in what was there, and NOTHING in the real world got pulled from the books.  Nope!  Now we have a sappy love story and a pretty girl and a Bossman who leaves his password in plain sight and come on, seriously?  Aside from the opening shot, which was the book cover, this was a nightmare.
  • Useless villains are useless.  The bad guys in this story were flat, boring, and … I mean, they were basically Stormtroopers.  Couldn’t hit anything, ran into each other, were always conveniently looking the other way.  They wanted a good vs. evil plot and honestly I could not be bothered with their Boris and Natasha (Rocky & Bullwinkle) clumsy villains.

  • The love story.  The freaking love story.  This book had no love story.  We didn’t need one.  It was brilliant on its own.  It was a glorious treasure hunt and it was AMAZING.  Now Halliday’s love story and Wade/Samantha’s love story is the plot and who the hell cares, come on. ** 4/14 update:  Okay, so the book did have a love story, but not like THIS.  It was a subplot and Sam didn’t combine until the last chapter and it was so much more powerful that way.  Pfft.
  • Flat characters.  There was NO growth whatsoever.  Even Wade, who should have been dirt poor and overweight and purposeless was supposed to rise, earn his money, work hard to get healthy, and be properly sneaky and delightful.  Nope!  Within the first 20 minutes, Wade is fifty rich, all the characters are attractive, and Samantha has all the brains and apparently loyal henchmen and just them saying “I have history” doesn’t make me believe it.  (Also Wade’s line, “You killed my mom’s sister?” … Aunt.  Say “aunt”.)
  • How they figured out the clues.  This was ridiculous.  They went on poor whims and spent a lot of time explaining how they figured it all out with one lousy word.  Pure silliness.
  • Why did you change all the challenges?  It’s like they took the core of the story and went “I like the three keys thing, but lets do this instead!”  I get that watching Joust in the movie may be a little dull, but I feel like there were ways to make it work.  To make any of the tasks work the way they were written.

Things I have mixed feelings about:

Actually, it’s just the one.  The second task – The Shining.  I’m like Aech, I don’t do horror, so a lot of this was lost on me.  They changed it to work with the love story.  I never expected the first gate to be War Games, but I wish it was.  War Games is such a quintessential 80s flick and what’s more, I don’t understand how you can make a movie like this and not have Matthew Broderick in it at all.  He was the king of 80s teen movies!  The gates were removed altogether, and the cool idea that was gate one became warped into key two and just #mess.

The second task was visually gorgeous, but I wanted War Games.  That movie worked so well with Halliday, too, I just… pfft.  I wish they had used that.


Honestly overall this movie was a travesty compared to the book.  I will continue to wholehearted recommend Ready Player One, but as it was intended… in book or audiobook format. My heart breaks because this book was so prime for a screen adaptation without any needed changes.  It had complicated characters and an interesting, high action story, and loads of fun nostalgia.


Ready Player One, without the context of how truly amazing the book is, can be a very entertaining film.  The characters are flat and villains pathetic, like I said, but it is fun and fascinating and prime for imagination.  I would love to go to OASIS and I think that they build the world amazingly.  It’s a fun family movie, not even too scary for the kids, and right in the vein of what anyone could want from Spielberg.

I wish it was the book.  I wish with all my heart and soul that it was more like the book.  But as a standalone experience, I think people will really enjoy it.


Have you read Ready Player One?

Do you intend to see the movie?

What is your favorite piece of 80s pop culture?

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10 responses to “Ready Player One: Book Vs. Movie (SPOILERS)

  1. Great review!! I had a real problem with Aech too. I really liked her Oasis character in the movie but they left so much of her real character out. I loved the scene in the book where it was all awkward and then they just burst out laughing and everything was all right. It was great and would have been so easy to put in the movie!

    • Amber

      I forgot about that scene! I am planning on revisiting the RPO audiobook as soon as I finish Anne of the Island. I haven’t read it since 2014, which I think allowed me to enjoy the movie more than I would have, but now I want to get back into the *proper* world.

  2. Okay so I’ve seen it this past weekend and here are my thoughts on your thoughs! (thought-ception??)

    The OASIS was stunning but yes, I totally agree with the fact that some reference shouldn’t have been there because the whole thing about the book is that Halliday was obsessed with the 80’s. They should’ve kept it to 80’s like in the book. I understand that they couldn’t get the rights to everything they needed so they had to be creative, but still.

    Aech was awesomely cast for sure and I liked the addition of i-Rok. Also Daito and Sho were awesome and Sho was basically the cutest thing that ever existed.

    Yeah I had trouble with the real world too?? Because it was all so unlike the book (except for how The Stacks looked because YES.) But I think my problems are more towards the story in general, which diverted from the book A LOT. This includes the challenges.

    BUT I think I’ll still recommend the movie as well because I had a pretty good time watching it. If I had to rate it, I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars still, despite my problems with it. If I watch it a second time, comparing it to the book, I’d give it a lot less. But as a movie, for movie fans that haven’t read the book, this’ll be a fun, exciting movie. (Though they really should read the book.)

    Bee (Quite The Novel Idea / Novel Ink) recently posted: {Mirror Mirror} The Month of Books, Moving and Graduating ~ Bee’s March Recap
    • Amber

      Your last paragraph here completely sums up my feelings. Did I like it? No. And yes? Not what I wanted, but not bad for a general audience. I wish I could get people to see the book, but if they won’t, I at least want them to see the movie, because it was fun.

      There are SO MANY 80s references that could have happened. SO MANY. I think they wanted to make it multi-generational. The pop culture is something that my husband and I keep discussing, because we can’t quite figure it out.

      Ahh, I’m glad to hear you liked i-Rok, too. I haven’t seen or heard much about him in reviews, and I thought he was great. Wish there was more development, buuuut…. whatever. Even though it wasn’t in the book, I wanted him to appear IRL and join Wade et al against IOI because they made him lose his stuff. XD

    • Amber


      UGH UGH UGH.

      I started re-listening to the book on my commute home and THREE MINUTES IN I had to pause it and contain my rage because I was driving and rage is bad but… I could just *see* an opening in my mind with Dead Man’s Party playing and Halliday dancing and his will being the opening scene and !!! WHY DID THAT NOT HAPPEN. :'(

      I’m glad I didn’t re-read before seeing the film because I would have been made of rage in the theatre and probably thrown out. 😛

      • Ali

        I did a re-read before the movie Amber. This is why it destroyed me. I jokingly told everyone that I was doing a re-read so that I could pick the movie to shreds when I watched it – NOT REALIZING THAT I WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO. Ah well, at least you’re cleansing your soul with a re-read. I should do the same…

        • Amber

          You may have to! I still hear things and get REALLY MAD at the movie, but I am relishing things I didn’t notice in the last read, and putting the UGH of the movie behind me. Good for the soul. 😉