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YMMV / Ready Player One

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For examples from the 2018 film adaptation, go here.

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • James Halliday is a reclusive, antisocial nerd who spends his entire adult life pining after his best friend's wife, even after he becomes the richest, most famous man in the world. Some view his behavior as stalkerish at best and outright misogynist at worst. Others believe James is just a super-geek who suffered from severe social anxiety that prevented him from revealing his feelings to his best female friend. The fact his best male friend (who married the female one) remembered him fondly post-mortem implies we're supposed to view it at the latter. There's also the question of whether he intended to warp the ENTIRE FABRIC of human entertainment over the course of a decade to become nothing but a collection of 80s nostalgia. While he certainly wanted people to like and appreciate his childhood, it's questionable he would want seemingly all new ideas replaced with a recycling of John Hughes, Star Wars, and Transformers. Or maybe he did.
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    • Andy Weir, author of The Martian, has one for a character in his (declared Canon by Ernest Cline) RPO fanfic "Lacero".. Nolan Sorrento's true goal is to destroy the OASIS as revenge against GSS, as his sister was an OASIS addict who ended up dying due to her obsession.
    • Is Wade Watts a Wish Fulfillment who improbably gets a famous beautiful love interest, billions of dollars, and only succeeds due to his love of 80s trivia? Or is he a character who undergoes an arc from being a selfish nerd to someone who becomes a better more heroic person, which is what helps bring about his triumph?
    • Is Art3mis a Manic Pixie Dream Girl and just Wade's Love Interest as some readers argue or is she the Deuteragonist who has a much better grasp of what the stakes are for the game? Given she actually breaks up with Wade because of his selfishness and devotion to their relationship over the game, the book points to the latter. The movie puts front and center her goal of destroying IOI, which she calls a revolution in her first real-world sentence to Wade.
  • Anvilicious:
    • Wade takes a page and a half to talk at length about how religion is a stupid idea and there's no God. This is mitigated somewhat by the fact the only adult who is remotely nice to him, Mrs. G, is deeply religious, and he acknowledges that her faith is how she deals with their Crapsack World, just as the OASIS is for him.
    • Wade's reaction to the discovery his best friend is a African American lesbian rather than a boy his age leads to a lecture on tolerance. Understandable given she was homeless for a time because of parental rejection.
    • The Anti-Escapism Aesop strikes some reader as this, although it might be mitigated by the conflicted stance the book seems to take on the Oasis's role in society.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The (probably tongue-in-cheek) passage written by Halliday about the virtues of masturbation among an otherwise depressing chapter in the book is viewed as this.
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  • Critical Dissonance: The book received rave reviews, but does have a sizable Hatedom.
  • Death of the Author: The re-establishment of "indentured servitude" is glossed over by most reviewers, despite Wade spending several weeks as an indent. Cline based it on prison telemarketers, as a means of showing how easily slavery could be re-instituted. Better yet, Wade gets himself indentured by faking an overwhelming debt - debtors' prisons are a modern reality. Especially the part where the indents rarely successfully pay off their indenture.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The Anti-Escapism Aesop interpretation of the book. Several times, the book takes a moment to discuss whether or not the OASIS has caused human beings to scorn reality for a Lotus-Eater Machine. This despite the fact the OASIS is the source of the only thing which makes Wade life bearable as well as a chance for everyone to get an education.
  • Friendly Fandoms: The book complements Cory Doctorow's Little Brother very well. Those who like one book usually end up liking the other.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: A few years after this book was written, several high-profile geek hatedom movements exposed a nasty streak of toxicity and gatekeeping running through much of geek culture. This helped contribute to the ongoing backlash towards it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Hype Backlash: While the book was highly praised upon its initial release, over the following years it began to attract a considerable hate following. The complaints go on and on - it overuses pop culture references and has no identity of its own, it embraces a soulless consumption-as-identity model of nerd culture, it doesn't feature enough black icons from the 80s, it's an amateurish first novel, etcetera.
  • Jerkass Woobie: A recent short story revealed Sorrento to be this of all people. He wanted to destroy OASIS because his sister got so addicted to the Hunt for the Egg that she started taking meth to stay awake, later dying from an overdose.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "People who live in glass houses should shut the fuck up."
    • "Dead Man's Party" by Oingo Boingo received something of a musical revival due to its use in Janes Halliday's video will.
    • After the announcement of the film adaptation, it became a minor meme to mock the novel's purportedly clunky prose and dialogue and endless litany of 80's nerd culture references through the quotation of certain passages.
  • Moral Event Horizon: IOI's desire to control the OASIS makes perfect sense; not only is it the single most profitable enterprise in human history, but its online credits are the de facto Global Currency. It's as if Reagan-era POTUS-For-Life was up for grabs, so the lengths they're willing to go should have been expected. But there's really no glossing over the fact that IOI engaged in bribery, racketeering, premeditated murder and terrorism just to win a contest.
  • Narm: The book's copious use of L33t L1ng0 and the word "noob" hasn't aged terribly well, being seen as a kind of nerdy Totally Radical by some detractors. It was especially egregious considering the book was published in 2011, long after such early 2000s internet slang had fallen out of style.
  • Not So Crazy Anymore: Cline was mostly describing his dream online game when he envisioned the OASIS back in 2011 — but a number of elements have already become reality;
    • Some fans found it incredulous that people would be using characters from established franchises as 3D avatars for OASIS. Cue a little something called VR Chat, and more often than not you'll see exactly that happening.
    • OASIS credits becoming more valuable than any other currency is downright prescient in light of Bitcoin value shooting up to over sixteen thousand dollars in 2017.
    • The fight against the Corrupt Corporate Executive villains seeking to monetize the OASIS has gained a real-world parallel in the movement to maintain Net Neutrality along with safeguarding online privacy from marketing purposes.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The Cataclyst has the power to kill hundreds of characters with no known countermeasure, and nobody knows where it is.
  • Snark Bait: The at times rather rather clunky prose (most prominently in the rather dry descriptions of both action scenes as well as the gameplay of the video games Wade plays during the story), and name-dropping of pop culture in what sometimes comes across as a desperate attempt to appear to be "with it" (especially with how, for all of Wade's claims of having obsessive encyclopedia knowledge of the media properties he discusses, the book still manages to stumble into quite a few cases of Dan Browned) has subject the book to this treatment from detractors.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Among the Broken Base, there's a substantial portion of fans among nerddom who like the book due to how over-the-top it is in its celebration of 80s nostalgia, minimalist writing style, and general cheese factor. Two contributors to Rifftrax actually made a 9 part podcast dissecting the book based around this premise.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The first several chapters explain the state of the world and the importance of OASIS. The actual quest for the key doesn't begin until Wade discovers the Tomb of Horrors and the Copper Key.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Wade holds people who call in to the tech support hotlines where he works (first voluntarily, later as an indent) in searing contempt, seeing them as lazy incompetents who should Read the Freaking Manual. While this is likely to strike a chord with anyone who's ever worked in tech support, it comes across a bit differently to people who are more used to being on the other side of the equation - feeling frustrated and confused by some user-unfriendly piece of technology and then having to subject themselves to an equally demoralising tech support process. There is also the fact that Wade is literally getting paid to sit there and answer those inane questions - if everyone adopted the do-it-yourself values that he holds to, he'd be out of a job!
  • Values Resonance: The conflict of "Don't let corporations monopolize the Internet" has become extremely topical due to the ongoing Net Neutrality debates of the later half of The New '10s.


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