Going off EveryMinorDetail’s stellar post on the variety of issues in Ready Player One, I’ll jump into the personal experience this novel has left me with.
As I’ve been commenting occasionally in class, Ready Player One is bringing me back to a very specific period in my literary life—that of the Young Adult (fantasy) Novel. Picture Bradley, some time in middle school, laying down on my shag carpet floor with Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code held up above my head, flipping through the pages furiously. Or late at night, hidden in a fort of covers, devouring Christopher Paolini’s newest installment in the Eragon series by the light of a headlamp. Or walking out of Borders with the next Percy Jackson novel, trying to finish the first chapter before my mom pulls out of the parking lot.
I’m sure many of us were this child at some point, probably for a number of years. From the Magic Tree House and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that started it all around age 8, to eventually moving on to high school sports and running out of time for fun reading, there existed a period in which I read young adult novels like nobody’s business. I wouldn’t doubt that this was a major part of why I, and anyone else who is experiencing nostalgia right now, decided to become an English major at university.
Coming back to Ready Player One, my experience in listening to Ernest Cline’s novel has been one of pleasant nostalgia indeed, mixed with a fair bit of cringing. As we’ve discussed, these novels tend to have frustratingly flat characters and, in general, devices that would certainly not be considered academic. But although I’m not sure I’ll ever elect to re-read the thrilling tale of James Patterson’s bird children, that doesn’t mean they weren’t worth reading at that time—or indeed ever, for anyone who gets a genuine pleasure out of them. These books will always have a place in my heart, and although they may have left me with a bit of a manic pixie dream girl complex, I’m grateful for the expanded vocabulary and imaginativeness they hardwired into my developing brain. So although hearing Wade’s thoughts makes me want to shrivel up and pretend I was never a teenager, the truth is that I’ve loved reading Ready Player One for the experiences it has reminded me of.