Skip to Content

13 Books Like Ready Player One

13 Books Like Ready Player One

If you enjoyed Ready Player One as much as I did, you’d be over the moon to hear that there are many more books like it. These books all have their sense of originality while incorporating some of the best elements of Ready Player One into their storylines.

Related: 8 Unmade Steven Spielberg Films

Warcross – Marie Lu


Warcross is a science fiction novel for young adults. It was written by Marie Lu and published on 17 September 2017. The book is set in New York and Tokyo, in a cyberpunk dystopian future.


The novel is centered around eighteen-year-old Emika Chan, who struggles with her father’s death and her recent expulsion from high school. To escape from her grief and sorrow, she turns to the largest internet game in the world, Warcross.

To make a living, she becomes a bounty hunter. This position involves track down perpetrators of Warcross crimes, such as gambling. As she is tracking an individual who is suspected of betting on the game, she is reminded of the upcoming Warcross tournament, which is to take place in Tokyo.

Emika decides to participate in the tournament, where a glitch allows her to expose a vulnerability in the code. After this, she quickly becomes a household name, and the creator of Warcross offers her a job in Tokyo. She eagerly accepts this position but soon realizes that she now has to go head-to-head with a hacker.

With everything she knows and loves having been ripped away from her, she realizes that she might lose Warcross too. With her job and her life at stake, she becomes determined to fight this battle.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

Warcross is perfect for anyone between the ages of twelve and fifteen who loves science fiction. The book has two installments, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the fictional world of Emika Chan and her epic battles with the hacker.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash

If the cyber universe of Ready Player One was what captivated your attention, Snow Crash promises to draw you right back into that setting. This book is unique, as it offers a humorous take on the future of America and virtual reality.

Though it was published in 1992, the futuristic atmosphere of this book and its subtle commentary on politics still ring true today.


The protagonist, Hiro Protagonist, is a pizza-delivery boy working for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza. Of course, that’s only his day job in the real world. His real identity shines through in the Metaverse, where he is a warrior prince.

Hiro researches information about a new virus and discovers that Snow Crash is a virus that was created to make the public vulnerable to mind control from the villain, L. Bob Rife. 

He races the neon-lit streets of the Metaverse, intending to battle the villain who created a virus that’s interfering with hackers everywhere. The villain threatens to bring on the end-times, known in the book as the infocalypse.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

This book is best suited for readers between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. In my opinion, adults would enjoy the exploration of heavier topics and the commentary on politics that is present throughout the book.

The Impossible Fortress – Jason Rekulak

The Impossible Fortress: A Novel

Fitting the nostalgic feel of Ready Player One, Jason Rekulak’s The Impossible Fortress is a book full of 80s references. This book is a heartfelt story of friendship and teenage love.


The novel is set in 1987, where three teenage boys who are hopelessly uneducated in the female mind discover a Playboy magazine. They treat this magazine like the Holy Grail and attempt to do everything possible to get their hands on it. Naturally, their young minds devise a plan to steal it.

After many failed attempts, they conclude that the best way to obtain the magazine is to access the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary.

One of the boys, Billy, sets out to befriend the girl and get the information by any means necessary. What he fails to realize is that Mary isn’t like other girls her age. She’s a computer geek who loves coding and has way more knowledge on the subject than Billy.

Quickly, what once started as a game to win Mary’s trust and affection leaves Billy with a gut-wrenching choice: break a promise to his two best friends, or deceive the girl who has now stolen his heart.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

This book has humor sprinkled on every page, and the sweet romance is a nostalgic reminder of everyone’s first high school love story. The novel is recommended for ages 14 and up. Everyone who enjoyed Ready Player One will appreciate the reminders of 80s culture, especially adult readers.

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (Ender Quintet Book 1)

If you somehow missed this book, this sci-fi adventure book is wildly popular and has raving reviews. Published by Scott Card in 1985, this story has been adapted for film; however, the movie does not do the book justice.


The protagonist, Ender Wiggin, is a gifted child. He finds himself and many others in a training academy called Battle School, being taught how to battle The Formics, also known as “buggers,” an insect-type alien species. As the children grow older, their training becomes more advanced.

Ender may not return home to Earth until his training and missions have been completed.

This book is the first installment of a series and shows Ender’s growth from being an innocent, naive child to a tactical war hero. The setting, while there is no specified date, takes place in a futuristic period.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

Ender’s Game, although forming part of a six-part series, is a great standalone novel. It is recommended for ages thirteen and up. Teens and adults alike will appreciate the cleverly crafted storyline.

Though this novel is incredibly well-written, the writer is a vocal homophobe. So this book might be best picked up second-hand or borrowed from a friend.

Only You Can Save Mankind – Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save Mankind (Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, 1)

The first installment in Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, Only You Can Save Mankind, has everything a sci-fi fan could want in a book.


While playing an arcade game, Johnny sets a new high score. As Johnny is about to press the “fire” button and obliterate the aliens into a thousand tiny pixels, something unexpected happens. The aliens send him an unexpected message, saying: “We wish to talk. We surrender.” But it’s just a game. Or, maybe it’s not that simple…

Similar to Ready Player One and The Impossible Fortress, this novel is packed with a nostalgic punch. With the mention of retro arcade games, it’s like hopping into a time travel machine and taking a trip back to the good old days.

The book was set during the Gulf War. During this time, computer games about war were in their earliest days, the news was constantly reporting on the war, and the lines between fiction and reality were very blurry indeed. 

Terry Pratchett excels in making you ponder questions about humanity without realizing that you are doing so while enjoying a thoroughly engrossing book. 

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

This book is most appropriate for readers aged between eleven and fifteen, although I’m sure adults will be able to appreciate the writing style and trip back in time. The book was published in the early 1990s, but its classic content is frozen in time.


One Con Glory –  Sarah Kuhn

One Con Glory

You will surely enjoy this book if you enjoy the nerdy pop culture references sprinkled throughout Ready Player One. One Con Glory, written by the talented Sarah Kuhn, is a short novella that follows the life of a self-proclaimed fangirl.


The protagonist, Julie, is obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and comic books. She has been writing her own comics and short story content for as long as she can remember. But something is missing from Julie’s life; one item that she’s been dying to get her hands on for years: the Glory Gilmore action figure.

One fateful weekend, she gets the opportunity to make her dream come true, but the path to reach her goal won’t be easy. She is faced with a plethora of unexpected obstacles and challenges.

One Con Glory caters to the comic book geeks out there and to those hopeless romantics who enjoy awkward romances with childish innocence. Julie finds romance in a hopelessly irritating TV heartthrob, which makes for an unlikely friendship.

Gamers will also find comfort in the many video game references that are so apparent in this book. Sarah Kuhn leverages her knowledge of comic book fan culture throughout her book to create a powerful sense of humor and nostalgia that cannot be matched.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

This captivating work of fiction is best suited for ages twelve and up, though adults appreciate this book the most, according to reviews. The cultural references allowed adults to dive back into their younger years and re-live that first innocent romance.

Moxyland – Lauren Beukes


Lauren Beukes might have the book for you if Ready Player One captivated your attention with its futuristic feel. Set in a high-tech dystopian version of Cape Town, South Africa, Beukes’s highly creative novel, Moxyland, follows four protagonists: Kendra, Lerato, Tendeka, and Toby.

Characters And Plot

In each chapter, a different narrator shares their personal experiences living under a pervasive government and media.


Kendra is an art school dropout reinvented as a shiny brand ambassador, known as a sponsor baby. She is injected with experimental nanobots that enhance her physical and mental abilities.

Beukes uses Kendra’s story to emphasize the dictatorship-like control technology has over the Moxyland inhabitants because Kendra essentially becomes a walking advertisement.


Lerato is a young corporation worker who seems to have figured out how to live comfortably in this bizarre world. She thrives in this environment. The contrast between her current life and her childhood is harsh.

 She became an orphan due to her parents dying of AIDs and attended a corporate school for other children who had lost their parents to AIDs. She was hired to work at a corporation as a result of her schooling, and she used her computer skills to climb the ladder of success.


Tendeka is a romantic, passionate, revolutionary figure in Moxyland. He opposes corporations and corruption. He and Ash, his lover, organize projects for feeding and sheltering street children in Cape Town.

 In promoting change, he demonstrates that not everyone is happy with the system. Tendeka does not accept that technology is the dominant force in the world. Skyward* helps Tendeka participate in underground revolutionary events that attempt to end techno-totalitarian rule in Moxyland.


Toby has an impact on all the other characters’ lives, either positively or negatively. He has narcissistic tendencies. His involvement in the lives of the characters makes him a vital part of the novel’s progression. Often, he seeks chaos so that his life can appear interesting to gain media attention.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

Older teens will love Moxyland. It manages to combine futuristic lingo with current street talk. For South African teens, this will hit close to home. For teens around the rest of the world, this book gives offers insight into South African culture in Cape Town.

Insignia – S.J. Kincaid

Insignia (Insignia, 1)

This is another novel that’s the first in a series, and it’s often said to be a perfect read for fans of Ender’s Game. Since Ender’s Game is an excellent book for fans of Ready Player One, this book is sure to tickle your fancy.


The trilogy was published between the years of 2012 – 2-14. The books take place in a dystopian future where the Earth is in the midst of World War III. Adolescent gamer Tom Raines is recruited to train with other young cadets as a crucial member of the elite battle corps known as the Intrasolar Forces.

In the Pentagonal Spire’s training academy, he meets his best friends, fellow government pilots-in-training Wyatt Enslow, Vik Ashwan, and Yuri Sysevich.

Together, they fight battles intending to save the world as they know it. The Insignia trilogy won several awards, including the  2015 Young Adult Alabama Author Award from the Alabama Library Association.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

I would recommend this book to any young adults, specifically those between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. This book caters to the teenage mind, and its sci-fi theme would be of interest to many teenage boys.

The Automatic Detective – A.L. Martinez

The Automatic Detective

How frequently do you have the chance to read robot noir fiction? A. Lee Martinez wrote The Automatic Detective, creating the character Megatron. This book is well worth checking out.


Set in a fictional town driven by science, Empire city is home to Mack Megatron, a robot detective. He was designed to dominate humankind, but what happens when he decides that isn’t what he wants?

Megatron is just trying to get by and live a normal life. He tries to show everyone that he isn’t an evil machine but rather a robot who’s just trying to earn his citizenship.

When Mack’s neighbors disappear without a trace, he makes it his mission to bring them back to safety. While on his journey, he encounters many interesting characters and faces many challenges.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

The Automatic Detective will appeal to those who are fans of Ready Player One and who love world-building and government conspiracies. The age group who would most enjoy these books are teenagers and young adults.

In Real Life – Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Movie cover of 'In Real life'.

In Real Life was written by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang and published by First Second on 14 October 2014.


The graphic novel follows Anda, who loves an online multiplayer role-playing game called Coarsegold Online. Most of her free time is spent playing this game, as she fully immerses herself in the game. She is drawn to the idea of being able to present as anyone she wants, and at the same time, make friends from all around the world.

One day, while Anda is playing Coarsegold Online, she befriends a gold farmer. The gold farmer turns out to be a poor Chinese kid whose character collects valuable objects and sells them to players from developed countries to earn money.

This behavior violates all of the game’s rules, and Anda is conflicted. Should she report him, or should she pretend not to notice? Anda quickly realizes that someone’s quality of life is at stake and that her decision will ultimately directly impact her friend.

Acclaimed teen author Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang teamed up to present this beautifully illustrated graphic novel. The novel tackles real and raw issues, such as poverty, cultural differences, adolescence, and gaming.

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

This book is wildly popular among teenage gamers, specifically those that enjoy graphic novels. The age recommendation is 14-17, although I’m sure some younger and older audiences would be able to appreciate the honesty and raw emotions of the book.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend's Exorcism: A Novel

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a mindblowing 2016 horror novel written and published by Grady Hendrix. A hard copy was later published through Quirk Books.


The novel follows childhood friends Abby and Gretchen, who share many of the same interests – E.T, roller-skating, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But now they’re in high school, and things are changing.

Abby notices that Gretchen begins to act strangely after she and a group of friends try LSD, and Gretchen disappears into a wooded area, and bizarre happenings ensue. Abby concludes that there can only be one logical explanation for her friend’s behavior… Gretchen is possessed by a demon.

Abby then begins a quest to exorcise her best friend and bring the real Gretchen back. With the help of many unexpected allies, she is determined to help her friend. But will their friendship be enough to conquer Satan himself?

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

Anyone above the age of thirteen will enjoy this humorous horror story. Just like Ready Player One, it is full of 80s pop references and gentle, nostalgic reminders of that period. The story is through the eyes of an adolescent, which fellow adolescents will enjoy, and adults will reminisce the days when they were that age.

The Running Man – Stephen King

The Running Man: A Novel

Stephen King is a notorious horror author and a household name. If you somehow missed his novel, The Running Man, you definitely should.

The dystopian setting is reminiscent of Ready Player One. This novel was published in 1982, by Stephen King, under the alias Richard Bachman.

The Running Man is set in a dystopian future in the United States in the year 2025. The nation’s economy is falling, and crime rates are at an all-time high.

Ben Richards, a 28-year-old impoverished inhabitant of the fictitious Co-Op City, has been banned from his trade and cannot find work. His critically ill daughter, Cathy, requires medical treatment, and his wife Sheila has taken to prostitution to supplement the family’s income.

In despair, Richards goes to the Games Network, a government-run television channel that broadcasts violent game shows. After undergoing extensive physical and mental testing, Richards is chosen to participate in The Running Man, the Network’s most popular, profitable, and deadly program.

The show’s executive producer then interviews him and discusses the obstacles he will encounter once the game begins. 

Before leaving the studio, Ben is given $4,800 and a pocket video camera. He is free to go anywhere in the world but is required to film two messages each day and submit them to the studio for transmission.

If he fails to send the messages, he will breach his Games contract and will no longer be eligible for prize money, but he will be hunted indefinitely. According to Killian, no contender has ever survived long enough to collect the big prize, and he does not anticipate anybody ever to do so.

Richards just wants to live long enough to use his prize money to ensure his family’s future. But will his will to survive kick in? What happens to a man who’s being hunted when his family is at stake?

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

Fans of Stephen King might find that this book isn’t written in his typical style but will love it nonetheless, as will Ready Player One fans. The target age for this novel is people between the ages of 15 and 20, but in my opinion, this novel will appeal to any adult, even those who are well past their 20s.

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life – Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim Precious Little Life 1

If you loved Ready Player One’s quirky video game references, you’d love Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Scott Pilgrim, a 23-year-old Canadian slacker, living in Toronto with his snarky gay roommate Wallace Wells, is content with his life as a couch potato. Knives Chau, a Chinese-Canadian high school girl, has been “dating” him. Although his pals think it’s scandalous, Scott doesn’t believe it’s a big issue because all they talk about is her school life. During a phone call with his sister, Stacey Pilgrim, it is indicated that this relationship is Scott’s attempt to move on from an ex.

Then, Scott meets Ramona Flowers and falls head over heels for her. The graphic novel follows him, trying to avoid Knives Chau and win over Ramona’s love, all while fighting Ramon’s seven evil exes.

Who would enjoy the book?

This graphic novel can be enjoyed by teenagers and adults alike, and the video game references will be a gentle nod towards Ready Player One’s video game vibe.