This is a guest post from Alysia Stevenson. After teaching high school for two years, Alysia left to pursue freelance writing. When she’s not working on her debut novel, the native New Yorker can be found living in Barnes and Noble, catching up on Riverdale, writing literary analysis essays on Shakespeare and spending time with her large multicultural family. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida. Twitter: @Aly_Callie
I know, I know. I can’t believe I just said that. As a writer and avid reader, it’s very rare that I prefer a movie to the book; and even though Ready Player One has yet to come out, I already know that I’m going to like the film better. Now I’m not trying to start an argument with readers and Ernest Cline fans, so just hear me out before you charge at me with pitchforks.
I was somewhat aware of Ready Player One before I saw the trailer for the upcoming Spielberg adaptation last year, but I never made a point to buy the book, even though I said I would. When I saw the trailer however, I knew I had to go out and get it. Every pop culture reference, “Tom Sawyer” by Rush and the feeling that with the advancements of virtual reality, we could soon be seeing the world through Wade’s eyes had me hooked. I knew I had to get it on my next Barnes and Noble trip.
I finished the book in about two days and I was glad I got it over with. Here’s the thing: the concept of the story was brilliant; however, Cline’s writing made me cringe. The pop culture references that we got a glimpse of in the trailer were so over-saturated in the book that I found myself being more annoyed than entertained. So, Cline super fans, prepare yourselves, because I have some truth to drop:
Ready Player One was nothing more than nostalgia porn to me. Full of flat characters, poor writing, and over-explanation to the point that I felt I was reading a Wikipedia page. It seemed to me that Cline only wrote this book for the purpose of showing off what he knew about the ’80s. I could go on and on about what was wrong with the book, but I don’t want to go on a tangent. So, if I hated the book so much, then why would I like the movie?
For starters, it’s directed by Steven Spielberg…do I really need to explain any further? Besides the fact that he’s directing it, supposedly he’s going to add his own take on the film as well. The villain of the story, Sorrento, is going to be vastly different than Cline’s version, according to Ben Mendelsohn, the actor that plays him. Thank goodness, because in the book Sorrento is so one dimensional. Spielberg also expands on the character i-R0k, played by T.J. Miller. I-R0k appears very briefly in the book; in the movie, he’s a bounty hunter. Just the thought of T.J. Miller as a bounty hunter is too hilarious. Cline was overly descriptive, but I think that over-descriptiveness and Spielberg’s genius is going to work so well on screen.
This is not Spielberg’s first tango with a film adaptation. He knows what’s necessary for the story and what isn’t. I’m also hoping that he gives a bit of meaning to the story. So, if you’ve never read the book, but you find that you really enjoyed the movie, do yourselves a favor and…don’t read the book.
See more coverage of the upcoming Ready Player One adaptation here.