Books to the Big Screen: Ready Player One

Ready Player One

I often credit Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game for sparking my love of reading and writing science fiction. I first read the famous sci-fi epic in high school and it’s been my favorite book ever since. For years, I didn’t think another book would even come close to how I felt about Andrew Wiggin and his band of misfit children soldiers.

That was until I read Ernest Cline’s nostalgic debut novel, Ready Player One.

I first heard about the novel shortly before it became a movie – Indie Nerdcore rapper MC Chris (whom I’ve been a fan of since first hearing his song Fette’s Vette in high school) posted about how Cline sent him an Advanced Reader Copy of the novel before it was released in 2011.

Fast forward to 2018 – I was sitting on a cot in a small wooden structure in the middle of Syria, desperately trying to connect my Kindle Fire to the limited wifi signal we had. One of the first recommended books I saw was Ready Player One. I remembered MC Chris’ post and I had a large Amazon Gift Card balance begging to be used, so I decided to take a chance on it.

And I’m glad I did.

Cline’s use of 80s pop culture references sparked an excitement I hadn’t felt reading a book since Ender’s Game. I literally couldn’t put it down until I finished the last chapter, and even then I was tempted to read it again right afterward.

Needless to say, I was excited to see this tale come to life on the screen. Unfortunately, at the time, it wouldn’t be available for several more months (we didn’t exactly have movie theaters in Syria).

So I waited. And waited. And waited to the point I became so involved in my work that I forgot all about the movie. Then, one day, I was hanging out in my Special Operations compound and I flipped on my Kindle to read and I saw an image of the Ready Player One movie poster on the lock screen with the words I’d been waiting for: available now.

I immediately clicked the ad and purchased the movie. It could’ve cost $50, I didn’t care. I was just really excited to finally see how well Steven Spielberg and his team brought this story to life.

Thankfully, the internet at the SpecOps compound was much, much better than it was where I’d previously been assigned. The movie downloaded in minutes. I put in my earbuds, curled up on my cot, and hit play …

I hated it.

I know books and their movie counterparts seldom are identical, but I was so excited about watching this movie that I didn’t prepare myself mentally for how different they would be. On my first viewing, I felt like Spielberg gutted everything I found special about the book and replaced it with something, well, different.

At the end of the movie, I was disappointed – I felt like I’d wasted my money. So, I did the only thing a rational person would do, I went to the comment section to see how many people shared my disappointment.

As I suspected, there were many reviews from other lovers of the book who had very critical things to say about the creative liberty Spielberg took. But the film still had a four-star rating. Curious, I looked at the five-star reviews. Most were written by parents who’d never read the book and marveled at how much their children loved the movie.

It was at this point I realized I’d succumbed to the age-old folly of judging the movie on the book. The next time I had an evening free, I decided to give the movie another shot – this time with an open mind.

This time I wasn’t disappointed.

Yes, the movie and the book are completely different. Some of the fundamental elements of the story were changed. This is always going to happen when a book gets the movie treatment (otherwise we’d be in the theaters for 4-5 hours). But, what I came to appreciate about the film was: even though many things were different, the majority of the root story was still there and was very enjoyable.

While I wish this was a “duh” statement, I’ve unfortunately watched many film adaptations which were only based on the book in name only (I’ll get to those in a later post).

So, at the end of the day, I will still say the book is better than the movie, but if you enjoyed the 80s and want to feel nostalgic, like science fiction and video games, you should definitely check out Ready Player One.

What were your thoughts of the book and movie? Let me know in the comments!

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Published by Tim Koster

Tim Koster is an American author who was born and raised in Portland, Maine. After graduating from Deering High School, Tim attended Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, where he studied English with an emphasis on creative writing. In his junior year, Tim enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve as a public affairs specialist and deployed on two combat missions – his first was to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn (2011) and his second was to Syria in Support of Operation Inherent Resolve (2018). Tim currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.

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