A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this humorous science fiction thriller deals with a high-stakes online contest that mixes puzzles with video game violence. Set in a depressed future United States, where most people escape into virtual reality, it features a bunch of tough-talking teens fighting to keep their online playground out of the hands of an evil corporation.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Like nearly everyone on the depleted, depressed Planet Earth, high school student Wade Watts dreams of winning the untold billions at stake in a contest devised by James Halliday, late inventor of OASIS, the immersive virtual utopia that allows anyone to plug in and leave the real world behind. Obsessed with Reagan-era pop culture and technology, Halliday creates a series of puzzles that can only be solved by someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of science fiction, player-vs.-player fighting strategies, and the software mogul's own personal history. As the stakes grow higher and players begin to die in the real world, Wade must decide whether he can trust anyone else in his quest for the ultimate prize.
Is it any good?
Layered with inside jokes and sly references that will appeal to a wide range of readers, READY PLAYER ONE is a smart, funny thriller that both celebrates and critiques online culture. The author is accomplished at developing suspense even though much of the narrative is set in virtual reality. The puzzles are intriguing, the action is intense, and the payoff at the end is worth all the buildup.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about making predictions of the future based on current trends. Does the setting of the book seem plausible? What assumptions is the author making about changes in politics and economics between now and 2044?
What are the advantages and the disadvantages of having so much information available 24/7? How might near-ubiquitous social media affect our culture?
The protagonist, Wade Watts, spends a lot of time hiding his location and true identity. How do his precautions compare to the strategies you use to work online safely?
Do you think the contest in the novel could really be solved by one person working entirely alone? What are the advantages or disadvantages of working as a team?
For kids who love science fiction
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.