Ready Player One

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Ready Player One Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Exciting, funny, futuristic thriller about online games.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 83 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The narrative is filled with trivia about the 1980s and the early days of computer gaming.

Positive Messages

The protagonist learns that he must rely on the help of others if he has any chance of winning the contest. He also discovers the pleasures of life outside a computer simulation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Protagonist Wade and his online cohorts are brave and resourceful, determined to keep the OASIS gaming world free for all citizens.


The villains blow up the trailer park where the protagonist's aunt lives, but the protagonist learns the news second-hand. A secondary character is thrown out a window, but the act is not depicted.


Some flirting and speculation of what the real bodies of the players might look like. In one chapter, there's mention of blow-up sex dolls, online brothels, and masturbation. 


The gamers engage in "trash talk" during their encounters and use variations of "f--k."


Most characters in this futuristic world have very few material possessions, but many gamers try to save enough money to afford expensive computer peripherals. The online world is full of consumer items that can be purchased with virtual credits.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol use and smoking are lightly depicted in some of the online settings.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5, 8, and 12-year-old Written byEmily55555 November 21, 2015

Tech nerds will absolutely love it

I read this and it has a lot of language that is inappropriate for most tweens. Also has sexual content not described in this review. Masturbation and other ref... Continue reading
Adult Written by December 31, 2017

Language That'd Make "The Martian" Jealous, But Not Much Else

Yes, this book has a lot of language, and CSM is just wrong about many of the other things in this review (which isn't surprising, considering). The murder... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byShowman movie13 July 11, 2020

Addictive book; I could NOT put this book down!!!

Award this book got from me: 1# Book of the year, 1# Sci-Fi book, 1# addictive book, 1# Book of the month, Top 10 book, 1# Stunning book, and 1# Most Read!!! Th... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 14, 2014

A geeks' dream (but anyone would love it:)

When I finished Ready Player One I was stunned. It had everything that a good book should have; plot twists, fore shadowing, characters with personality, action... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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