Ready Player One has gone from strength to strength, first as a smash hit science fiction novel by Ernest Cline, and now as a blockbuster adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. The books found here have been chosen for their ability to appeal to fans of Ready Player One. You can check out any two of the books on this list, for no cost at all, thanks to Audible's one month free trial.
By Jason Rekulak
The Impossible Fortress is absolutely packed with 80s cultural references and nostalgia. The book’s main character, Billy Marvin, is computer obsessed. However, in the course of an elaborate prank with his friends, Billy ends up crossing paths with a girl who loves computers just as much as he does. Fans of the 80s nostalgia and computer based romance of Ready Player One will find much to enjoy here.
By Neal Stephenson
While Ready Player One has the virtual reality OASIS world, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash takes place in the epic online Metaverse. The story’s main character is a pizza deliveryman by day but powerful VR hero by night. Snow Crash’s plot focuses on attempts to corrupt and destroy the Metaverse, and the struggle which takes place to defeat the forces threatening the virtual world.
By Lauren Beukes
Moxyland presents an immersive world in which sinister online forces are behind the most popular forms of entertainment of the day. The main characters of the story come together in a way which will be familiar for anyone who enjoyed the camaraderie of the main Gunters in Ready Player One. This tale of tech is also satirical and presents a chilling vision of a scarily believable dystopian world.
By Blake Crouch
Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter is a thought-provoking sci fi tale which leaves readers questioning the very nature of reality and identity. The book’s main character is Jason, a man plunged into an unfamiliar world where his loved ones aren’t around and he seems to be someone entirely different. The book forces the reader to question absolutely everything they read until a shocking twist eventually paints a dramatic picture of the truth.
By G. Willow Wilson
G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen showcases a middle Eastern world of paranoia, hacking, and mysterious spiritual beings. Alif, the book’s protagonist, is a hacker forced underground by a romantic betrayal with violent political consequences. Alif the Unseen is a unique combination of tech thriller, spiritual sci fi, and dark fantasy.
By Ernest Cline
Fans of Ready Player One should scramble to read Armada, also by author Ernest Cline. The book tells the tale of dedicated gamer Zack, a disaffected young man who wishes his life was as exciting as the games he loves. When Zack crosses paths with a UFO, he soon realizes his gaming skills will be required for a far greater purpose. Readers who enjoyed the nerd and pop culture smorgasbord found in Ready Player One won’t be disappointed here, as Clyne serves up plenty of nostalgia and references.
By Pat Cadigan
Synners by Pat Cadigan is set in a world where VR and tech play a powerful role in almost every aspect of regular life. The book’s early portion is a complex and interesting immersion into the technological setting and the characters that inhabit it. Cadigan picks up the pace as the story progresses to eventually tie together seemingly disparate ideas into a masterfully crafted final section.
By Diane Duane
Omnitopia Dawn is the first installment of Diane Duane’s Omnitopia series. The book is based around a massively multiplayer online world. Sinister forces are at work to attack and destroy this world, but with devastating offline consequences. Fans of Ready Player One who enjoyed the struggle against Innovative Online Industries are sure to find themselves immersed in this plot.
By Cory Doctorow
For the Win by Cory Doctorow delves deep into the economic impact of virtual reality online gaming. Online VR games are big business. This naturally results in poorer gamers being exploited by the wealthy for immoral reasons. Eventually, realizing the skill they have acquired in doing the bidding of the rich, a group of gamers band together to fight back and overthrow the corruption which has exploited them so badly.
By James Dashner
The Maze Runner by James Dashner presents a mysterious story where groups of young people are forced to escape a complex maze. Dashner’s story draws upon elements of The Hunger Games, Ready Player One, and Battle Royale. Maze Runner is the perfect introduction to a dystopian world of trial and challenge where making it out alive is the only real game in town.
By Holly Jennings
Holly Jennings begins her Arena series with an introduction to her world of massively popular televised gaming tournaments. The book’s protagonist is Kali Ling, the biggest and best ever female gamer in the Virtual Gaming League. When Ling discovers corruption and unjustness in her online gaming world, she decides to take a stand, and fight her most important battle yet.
By Marie Lu
Marie Lu presents a tale of hacking and illegality based around an epic game known as Warcross. Emika Chen is the main character, a hacker who is thrust into surprising and powerful circumstances. Warcross has been praised for its convincing and immersive portrayal of a sophisticated online world.
By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Illuminae Files series is set in a distant future. Planetary invasion and terrifyingly powerful AI are completely normal in this world. Authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff portray the darkside of technology and the consequences when the systems we give control of our lives to stop functioning as intended.
By Leopoldo Gout
Genius: The Game brings together a young band of tech geniuses in much the same way that Ready Player One united a team of skilled and obsessive gamers. The elite players invited to play The Game are competing not only for the glory of winning the toughest tech challenge out there, but also to overcome the challenges they face in their everyday offline lives.
By Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game is the first installment of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Saga series. The book is set in a world where people believe they are playing games but are actually engaging in the early stages of a struggle against a very powerful enemy. Ender’s Game features epic scenes of battle packed with an incredible twist ending.
By Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Otherworld is the first installment in the series of the same name by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. The book is set in a complex virtual online world which has drawn comparisons to Ready Player One. Otherworld is a darker take on the virtual reality sci fi genre which convincingly portrays the darkness of both the online and offline worlds. This is the perfect starting point for readers looking to get immersed in a sci fi series as gripping as the game it’s based on.
By S.J. Kincaid
Insignia’s main character is a talented but young and nerdy virtual reality gamer, Tom Raines. When Tom is called upon to play his part during World War 3, he soon finds his gaming skills will serve him well. Fans of Wade Watts from Ready Player One will find a lot to like as they follow the adventures of Tom Raines throughout the Insignia series.
By Ramsey Isler
Arcadia is a groundbreaking online VR world which is able to make use of direct brain scans to improve the experience for players. However, this incredible environment is soon disrupted by hackers seeking to boost their own bank accounts. Arcadia’s main character is a journalistic investigator named Miguel who begins to unravel a shocking mystery at the heart of Arcadia.
By William Gibson
Neuromancer by William Gibson is widely considered to be one of the finest ever portrayals of a cyberpunk future. Gibson is able to weave elements of noir into his work and fans of Blade Runner will find a lot to like in this story. Due to the story’s 1984 publication date, Neuromancer offers a fascinating insight into how past author’s envisioned the technological future we’re now on the very cusp of.
By Andy Weir
The Martian and Ready Player One are linked by one key theme - the main character’s desire to overcome seemingly insurmountable struggles to achieve their aim. Just as Wade entered the world of the OASIS and risked it all, the first man to walk on Mars faces the same struggle for survival here. The Martian is a modern sci fi classic and very deserving of its acclaimed film adaptation.
By Vivian Vande Velde
Vivian Vande Velde’s Heir Apparent takes place in an epic online world. The virtual reality game found here is an exciting one full of myth, magic, and danger. Heir Apparent skillfully weaves together elements of virtual reality science fiction, and young adult fantasy, to present an imaginative take on the LitRPG genre.
By Madeleine L'Engle
The Wrinkle in Time features a young protagonist going on a surprising quest to protect the things and people they love the most. While Ready Player One makes use of the OASIS as the setting for its adventure, A Wrinkle in Time chooses the fifth dimension as its backdrop. The Time Quintet series starts strongly here with an intriguing and touching first installment.
By Pierce Brown
Red Rising is set on the planet Mars in a future dystopian society. Members of this world are divided into color coded groups and giving strict tasks to perform based on their designation. The book’s protagonist, Darrow, soon realizes that his place in this world is based upon a lie, and he decides to do something about it. Red Rising is a perfect science fiction tale of rebellion which many readers have likened to The Hunger Games.
By Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 is a classic work of dystopian science fiction from master author Ray Bradbury. Named after the temperature at which books burn, Bradbury’s tale is a chilling insight into how rapidly society can change, and how futile things can get for the people living there. Despite its earlier publication date, many readers will notice fascinating. Dystopian parallels with the world we currently occupy.
By Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert begins the Dune Chronicles series with Dune, a classic tale widely regarded as setting the standards for many aspects of modern sci fi. The story is an epic tale of war and science fiction, combined with incredibly insightful and well-written characters. The story is an essential read for sci fi fans who haven’t encountered Herbert’s series, and is also the perfect reread for older fans.
What genre is Ready Player One?
So with all these books like Ready Player One... What is Ready Player One?
Ready Player One can be classified as being in the cyberpunk genre. Cyberpunk often focuses on urban dystopian societies where Big Business coupled with corruption are responsible for the decay. Normally protagonists of the genre aren't your typical heroes. They are often hackers, rebels, or outsiders. Or egg-hunting gamer as in Ready Player One's case.
It also falls neatly into the genre with its use of higher end technology. Specialized visors, gloves, and enhanced virtual reality makes Ready Player One the epitome of cyberpunk.
A Brief Synopsis of Ready Player One
Ready Player One follows the story of Wade Watts. Wade lives with his aunt inside the stacks of Oklahoma City--a literal teetering tower of trailers stacked vertically upon each other. He spends his time as a "gunter"--or egg hunter-- within the advanced OASIS enhanced reality program. This is similar to virtual reality, but much much cooler.
But why eggs?
They're not eggs in your typical sense of the word. He's looking for Easter Eggs within the programming. (Again... Not those types of Easter eggs.) It was left inside the virtual world by OASIS's creator and whoever finds it inherits a massive fortune.
In order to find this particular Easter Egg, the gunter must pass through a series of games exploring each and winning in order to gain keys to the next gate. After he obtains the first key, Wade becomes known throughout OASIS.
This draws some undue attention to force him into hiding. But this deter him from his cause? Absolutely not. Wade continues on his quest to find the Easter Egg and amass that fortune.
Guess what happens next? Well...
Enough already! Just go read the book. (No spoiler zone here. Sorry, not sorry.)
For those of you have read the book and seen the film though... Click Here to get a complete list of all Easter Eggs shown in Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of Ready Player One.
Thinkpieces and Critiques of Ready Player One
Just like anything that's awesome... People are going to sit down and give you an opinion. In Ready Player One's case... It's all about how the movie differs from the book.
How much different is the movie? Could the Ready Player One movie been much better?
How Were These Books Like Ready Player One Chosen?
The books on this list have been selected purely on the fact they share something in common with Ready Player One, whether that’s the virtual reality setting, story of a young underdog rebel, or simply a love of nostalgia and references to past culture. If you list all the reasons you love Ready Player One, you’re sure to see at least one of your reasons in each and every book found here.
Get These Books like Ready Player One for Free!
If you’re ready to enjoy your next virtual sci-fi experience, you can get any of these books for free. Here's a fantastic free way to do so:
1. Audible's One Month Free Trial: If you enjoy listening to science fiction on the move, Audible is the perfect service for you. You can access a very wide range of titles on Audible and the user experience is excellent. If you sign up for their free trial, you can download any two books, and even keep them if you decide to discontinue.