Gamers can get lost in another virtual reality similar to OASIS by picking up books like Ready Player One.
Five years ago, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One transported sci-fi enthusiasts to the bleak future of 2044. Readers joined Wade Watts, a poor teenage orphan from Oklahoma City, as he journeyed into OASIS as “Parzival.” Wade drew us into the rousing race to solve enigmatic puzzles and claim the Easter Egg. Young readers were enthralled as Wade battled against fellow gunters, Aech and Art3mis, and the evil Innovative Online Industries. Ready Player One’s thrilling writing was honored with the 2012 Alex Award.
Die-hard fans are rejoicing that the hit YA novel will be adapted onto film by esteemed director Steven Spielberg. The film’s release won’t be until March 2018, but books like Ready Player One can tide you over. The science fiction genre is filled with nerdy novels revolving around video game culture. Books like Ready Player One catapult readers into light-speed adventure in dystopian worlds where ruthless virtual and real-life villains lurk. Action-packed pages tell of courageous heroes and heroines fighting for survival in high-stakes competitions of intergalactic proportions.
The following are our picks for the 50 most addictive books like Ready Player One.
#1 – Across the Universe
Published in 2011, Across the Universe begins a thrilling trilogy taking place aboard the spaceship Godspeed centuries into the future. 17-year-old Amy Martin has been cryogenically frozen with her parents to venture to a distant planet called Centauri-Earth. However, Amy’s chamber is unplugged and her body thaws in a bizarre new society. Godspeed’s 2,312 frozen passengers are depending on Amy stop the oppressive leader, Eldest, from killing.
#2 – The Windup Girl
Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut novel The Windup Girl shows a dystopian future in 23rd century Thailand where calories are the currency. Anderson Lake, an economic hit man, works to find new food sources for the biotechnology megacorp called AgriGen. When combing Bangkok’s streets, he discovers a beautiful creature named Emiko. She’s an engineered being held captive to entertain Kyoto businessman until she accidentally triggers a deadly civil war.
#3 – Divergent
One of the most popular books like Ready Player One is Divergent with over 6.7 million copies sold. Veronica Roth’s trilogy features a post-apocalyptic world where citizens are classified in five factions. Beatrice “Tris” Prior is approaching her 16th birthday and Choosing Day. After inconclusive aptitude test results, Tris decides to leave her Abnegation family and join Dauntless. But only the top 10 initiates can survive the intensive three-stage training.
Related: Top 50 Great Books Like Divergent
#4 – Ancillary Justice
First in the Imperial Radch trilogy, this space opera novel is set 1,000 years forward in a dystopian future where galactic powers control humans with AI. The main protagonist, Breq, is the only survivor of the Justice of Toren starship. She discovers that her starship was destroyed by the treachery of the cruel Lord of the Radch. Despite her suddenly fragile human body, Breq begins a jaw-dropping quest for vengeance.
#5 – The 5th Wave
The 5th Wave centers on Cassie Sullivan, a 16-year-old girl living in present-day Dayton, Ohio when disaster strikes. The world has been devastated by four waves of invasions by aliens called “Others.” Cassie’s five-year-old brother, Sam, is captured and taken to Camp Haven. She begins the perilous journey to rescue him when she encounters the handsome Evan Walker. Can Cassie trust Evan, or is he simply an Other in disguise?
#6 – Star Man’s Son
Andre Norton’s 1952 classic novel Star Man’s Son tells the tale of Fors, a silver-haired mutant of the Puma clan in post-apocalyptic North America. He’s the ostracized son of Langdon, a Star Man. Fors dreams of following in his father’s footsteps and searching for ancient technology. When Langdon disappears in the lands of Beast Things, he gets his chance. Along with a mutant wildcat, Fors ventures to rescue him.
#7 – Life as We Knew It
Susan Beth Pfeffer
Life as We Knew It begins a four-part series of books like Ready Player One by best-selling author Susan Beth Pfeffer. The novel portrays a near-future world where an asteroid strike brings the Moon closer to Earth. Miranda, our protagonist, is a 16-year-old teen living in northeastern Pennsylvania. Along with her brothers Matt and Jonny, Miranda fights for survival everyone around them succumbs to the extreme cold.
#8 – Oasis
This novel by Dima Zales takes place after the apocalypse in Earth’s last inhabitable land. Oasis is seemingly a paradise with no vulgarity, violence, and death. Theo, a 23-year-old Oasis citizen, begins hearing a feminine voice from Phoe. He believes she’s a crazy delusion until Phoe tells him dark secrets nobody else knows. When Theo’s best friend Mason disappears, he must count on Phoe to discover the truth.
#9 – Neuromancer
Neuromancer is one of the few books like Ready Player One to win the “Triple Crown” – the Nebula Award, Philip K. Dick Award, and Hugo Award. William Gibson’s novel revolves around Henry Dorsett Case, a talented computer hacker in Japan. After being caught, Case is infected with a mycotoxin as punishment. He’s left unable to access his virtual reality dataspace. Case’s only hope comes from the snarky street samurai named Molly Millions.
#10 – Accelerando
Released as a free eBook in 2005, Accelerando provides a fast-paced, sci-fi adventure where artificial intelligence rules people. Three generations of the Macx family are struggling to survive in this accelerated world. “Venture altruist” Manfred, his daughter Amber, and his grandson Sirhan find their destinies linked to the fate of all humanity. The trio must fight against time as the solar system’s nine planets systemically dismantle.
#11 – Altered Carbon
Richard K. Morgan
Soon to be adapted on Netflix, Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk novel showing a 25th century world where human personalities can be digitally stored and downloaded into new bodies. Killed several times before, Takeshi Kovacs is an ex-U.N. Envoy. He’s downloaded into the body of a former police officer, Elias. Takeshi is tasked with solving the mystery of Laurens Bancroft’s apparent suicide. Instead he’s thrown into a vicious conspiracy.
#12 – Leviathan Wakes
James S.A. Corey
Beginning The Expanse series, this science fiction book tells of a future where humans have colonized the solar system. James Holden, the CEO of an outer planet’s ice freighter, wants revenge for whoever destroyed his ship. On Ceres, detective Miller is also hunting a runaway Earther, Julie Mao. Both of their searches entangle in a vicious plot. They discover an Earth-based corporation is weaponizing alien replicators to declare war.
#13 – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is one of the classic books like Ready Player One, published in 1968. In a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, humanity has been greatly damaged by nuclear war. But emotionless androids from Mars are prospering on Earth. Bounty hunter Rick Deckard is hired to “retire” six Nexus-6 model androids. These rogue androids won’t go down without a fight though.
#14 – Cloud Atlas
As wild as a video game, Cloud Atlas boomerangs through time to explore fundamental questions of reality and identity. Starting in 1850, the sci-fi novel tells of Adam Ewing, a notary venturing from the Chatham Isles home to California. He encounters Dr. Goose, who treats him for a rare brain parasite. Suddenly, readers fast-forward to 1931 Belgium, 1975 California, present-day England, a futuristic Korean superstate, and the post-apocalyptic Iron Age.
#15 – Armada
Ernest Cline’s other books like Ready Player One include Armada. This 2015 sci-fi novel centers on Zack Lightman, a high school daydreamer who spots a UFO. The ship appears straight from his favorite video game, Armada, where players protect Earth from alien invasions. He’s swiftly recruited by the Earth Defense Alliance (EDA). Virtual reality turns real-life as Zack joins other top Armada gamers to stop an imminent attack from Europa aliens.
#16 – Unwind
Neal Shusterman portrays a near-future dystopian world where the Second Civil War has rocked the United States. The government passed the Bill of Life, which allows “retroactive abortions” in youth aged 13 to 18 and donating their body parts. Three teens: Connor, Risa, and Lev, decide to flee after they’re scheduled for “unwinding.” Their AWOL lives intersect, and together they forge a cross-country escape from the harvest camps.
#17 – I Am Legend
Regularly noted on “Top 10” lists for science fiction, I Am Legend is an acclaimed novel about a dystopian world where a plague mutated humans into blood-thirsty vampires. Robert Neville is miraculously immune, but he’s now the last man on Earth. During daytime, he stalks the decimated streets to hunt infected creatures. At night, Robert must barricade himself from undead vampires seeking to steal his life force.
#18 – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller, Jr.
A Canticle for Leibowitz takes place in a Catholic monastery in the Utah deserts after the Earth endures a devastating nuclear attack called the “Flame Deluge.” Isaac Edward Leibowitz, a Jewish engineer, converts to Catholicism to find the Albertian Order of Leibowitz. The monks strive to preserve man’s knowledge by smuggling holy relics. Together they search for the key to humanity’s rebirth from the ashes.
#19 – 1984
English author George Orwell famously wrote 1984 about Airstrip One, a province of the superstate Oceania that was once Great Britain. After perpetual war, the government has turned tyrannical as Socialists led by Big Brother implement omnipresent surveillance. Winston Smith, a middle class editor, works for the “Ministry of Truth.” But he secretly publishes a journal condemning Oceania’s totalitarian rule. If caught by the Thought Police, Winston’s unlawful propaganda warrants death.
#20 – The Iron Heel
Written in 1908, The Iron Heel provides a prophetic warning about the risks of industrial excess. Set in San Francisco, the dystopian novel portrays a world where a monopoly trust called The Oligarchy gains dictatorial control. They bankrupt small businesses and make farmers their slaves. After three centuries, the only opposition comes from the Brotherhood of Man. Can the thousands of oppressed proletarians win the Revolution against The Oligarchy?
#21 – The Time Machine
Fans of Ready Player One will enjoy H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel about an English scientist who designs a tabletop time machine. The Time Traveller tests his invention by journeying to AD 802,701. Here he encounters a futuristic society of Eloi, peaceful, child-like creatures. But the brutish Morlocks secretly steal the Time Traveller’s machine. He must venture into the dark Morlock tunnels to reclaim his device and escape the future.
#22 – Amnesia Moon
Amnesia Moon shares the post-nuclear story of a survivalist named Chaos, who lives in an abandoned movie theater in Hatfork, Wyoming. Residents of his town worship a sinister messianic figure called Kellogg. Chaos questions whether his reality has any connection to the truth. Together with a young girl named Melinda, Chaos travels the United States for answers. Gradually, he restores memories of his forgotten life as Everest Moon.
#23 – Moongazer
Skye Brown’s living the good life on New York City’s Upper West Side with a successful career and doting boyfriend. But lately her sleep is interrupted by dreams of a bleak futuristic wasteland oppressed by Dark Siders. In her dreams, she’s really a mystic Moongazer named Mariah Quinn. As a riveting mix of The Matrix and Blade Runner, this novel portrays one woman’s struggle to uncover her identity.
#24 – Logan’s Run
William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
Logan’s Run takes us to a dystopic ageist society where population is preserved by requiring death at 21 years old. Logan-6, a Sandman hired by the 23rd century government, enforces this law by killing. As his own death approaches, Logan’s last mission is to destroy the Sanctuary, a haven for the aging. But here he becomes enamored with Jessica. Will he uphold his duties or run for their lives?
#25 – A Wrinkle in Time
Penned by Newbery Medal winner Madeleine L’Engle, this fantasy novel revolves around 13-year-old Meg Murry and her little brother Charles Wallace. When sneaking for a midnight snack, the siblings encounter an unearthly stranger who warns of danger. Suddenly, their scientist father disappears. Meg traces his work on a mysterious project about tesseract, or wrinkles in time. The duo must journey to the dark planet of Camazotz for his rescue.
#26 – A Dream of Wessex
Similarly to Ready Player One, this sci-fi novel follows a group of 20th century dreamers who design a utopian future. Julia Stretton, a 27-year-old geologist, is recruited for this so-called Wessex Project. She unearths a method to transfer human’s collective unconscious into the ideal society. With Dr. Trowbridge, Julia strives to gather vital intel about this extrapolated future. But deception and greed threaten to endanger the philanthropic project.
#27 – Seveneves
In Seveneves, an inexplicable force causes the Moon to disintegrate into seven pieces. Esteemed astronomer, Dubois “Doc” Harris, predicts that the fragments will collide and create a “white sky” in Earth’s atmosphere. He suggests they preserve the human race aboard a “Cloud Ark.” Doc collaborates with astronaut Ivy Xiao to launch the Ark into space. Now 5,000 years later, seven distinct races leave the Ark to repopulate an alien-transformed Earth.
#28 – The Running Man
Stephen King’s novel The Running Man takes place in 2025 after a totalitarian dystopia leaves the United States in shambles. Ben Richards, the impoverished protagonist, is desperate to afford medication his ill daughter Cathy needs. Richards turns to a government-operated TV game show. Deemed an enemy of the state, the contestant earns $100 for every hour he evades the Hunters. Can primetime’s latest prey reach the $1 billion grand prize?
#29 – Silo
Hugh Howey’s series of novellas depicts a dark, post-apocalyptic Earth where humans cling to survival underground in the Silo. The first story, Wool centers on Sheriff Holston who’s investigating the mysterious circumstances of his wife Allison’s death. What he uncovers are the subterranean secrets of the Silo. The following eight stories focus on the battle of Silo residents, including Juliette, Jahns, and Marnes, to overcome the IT division’s despotic authority.
#30 – The Road
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy weaves a searing post-apocalyptic tale with The Road. An extinction event leaves Earth’s landscape blasted with ash. Starvation has turned the last survivors into prowling bands of cannibals. An unnamed man and his emaciated, 10-year-old son journey across burned America to find supplies. Armed with only one revolver and a supermarket cart, the man must protect them from falling to the marauders.
#31 – The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids tells of a post-apocalyptic world where God has sent “Tribulation” to punish civilization’s sins. Thousands of years later, society is reforming in rural Labrador. Inhabitants religiously practice fundamentalist Christianity in fear of God’s coming. Those deemed unordinary are banished to the Fringes. 10-year-old David Strorm, son of Waknuk’s patriarch, discovers his own telepathic powers. Along with fellow mutants, David flees to the more advanced Sealand to escape their demise.
#32 – Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel
Named a National Book Award finalist, Station Eleven paints an exhilarating picture where contemporary civilization perishes. During his play King Lear, actor Arthur Leander suddenly drops dead from a heart attack. Then a mysterious flu pandemic starts claiming victims. Kirsten Raymonde narrowly survives, but awakens in an altered world. She joins The Traveling Symphony, a group of actors who preserve humanity’s art. But soon a sadistic prophet threatens their existence.
#33 – The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
Set in 2194, Nancy Farmer’s sci-fi novel centers on General Matsika’s three children: Tendai, Rita, and Kuda. The siblings are locked within a fortified mansion for their protection against gangs terrorizing Zimbabwe. Yet they seek adventure for their Scout Badge and plot their getaway. Freedom is short-lived as they’re kidnapped by the She Elephant. Now their parents must rely on the Ear, the Eye, and the Arm for their rescue.
#34 – The Dispossessed
Ursula K. Le Guin
Within the Hainish Cycle series, this novel follows a brilliant young physicist named Shevek. He’s determined to tear down the walls that divide his planet, Urras, from the remainder of the universe. Anarchists become infuriated with his “theory of simultaneity” because it threatens the planet’s glorious isolation. Shevek plots an unprecedented journey to a utopian mother planet called Anarres for answers. Doing so could cost his life though.
#35 – The Maze Runner
Starting a five-part YA series, The Maze Runner reveals a bizarre, walled dystopian land named the Glade. Beyond the concrete lays an enigmatic Maze with its vicious monsters called Grievers. Thomas is the latest Runner recruited to the Glade and wiped of memories. He’s forced to venture into the Maze and find a solution or perish. Telepathic voices in Thomas’s head lead him to an exit, but will it provide freedom?
#36 – Snow Crash
Known for inspiring books like Ready Player One, Snow Crash weaves a heart-stopping tech thriller. In real life, Hiro Protagnoist is a lowly pizza delivery man. In virtual reality, he’s a noble warrior. Resembling OASIS, the Metaverse is an Internet successor with user-controlled avatars. Inexplicably, a computer virus is unleashed and starts taking out gamers. Hiro must race to find the shadowy villain before an infocalypse strikes.
#37 – The Reckoners
Beginning with Steelheart, this trilogy takes place after the “Calamity” appears in Earth’s atmosphere and emits radiation. Some humans, dubbed Epics, are left with supernatural powers and virtual invincibility. 10-year-old David Charleston is orphaned when the Epic Steelheart murders his father in a bank robbery. A decade later, David returns to Newcago to avenge his father. He finds “The Reckoners” and vows to exploit Steelheart’s one weakness.
#38 – The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games trilogy has sold more than 65 million U.S. copies and transported readers to the dystopian world of Panem. The totalitarian country consists of a wealthy Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, teens from each district are selected to participate in a televised death match. 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute to protect her younger sister, Primrose. Along with Peeta Mellark, she enters the Arena and the terrifying Games begin.
See also: Top 50 Books Like The Hunger Games
#39 – Delirium
17-year-old Lena Haloway lives in an alternate Portland, Maine, where severe bombings have crippled civilization. Under crushing totalitarian rule, society teaches that love is a dangerous disease called “amor deliria nervosa.” At 18, citizens must undergo a surgical cure to destroy the delirium. Mere months before her procedure, Lena meets and falls for an Invalid named Alex. She’s faced with the dilemma of leaving her life behind or losing her heart forever.
#40 – Utopia
Lincoln Child’s debut novel depicts a futuristic amusement park set among the canyons of Nevada. With its dazzling robots and holograms, Utopia attracts 65,000 tourists daily. But computer malfunctions spark chaos when a roller coaster nearly kills a teen boy. The park’s creator, Dr. Andrew Warne, is summoned to fix the once-flawless technology. Warne finds himself thrust into a time-ticking race to stop the ruthless hackers controlling Utopia’s system.
#41 – Oryx and Crake
This speculative fiction novel from Margaret Atwood focuses on Snowman, a boy named Jimmy before humanity was annihilated by plague. He lives among primitive, green-eyed creatures called Crakers. Facing starvation, Snowman decides to attack the genetically engineered hybrids hoarding supplies in RejoovenEsence. On his foraging expedition, Snowman sees flashbacks about his best friend Crake and the beautiful Oryx. Now he’s determined to avenge the bio-engineers who seeded the world’s obliteration.
#42 – Fahrenheit 451
Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, Fahrenheit 451 is a classic dystopian novel portraying a future American society where books are outlawed. Guy Montag is a “fireman” employed by the oppressive regime to burn any publications found. He’s content until he meets his free-thinking neighbor, Clarisse McClellan. Now Guy can’t resist stealing insightful books during his missions. When his indiscretions are revealed, Guy must run with Captain Beatty on his trail.
#43 – Ender’s Game
Orson Scott Card
Earth has narrowly survived two conflicts with insectoid aliens called “buggers.” In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, the government is recruiting child prodigies for intensive soldier training. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is among the Battle School’s newest cadets. In zero gravity, Ender quickly overwhelms his opponents. After catching Graff’s eye, Ender is promoted to leading the Salamander Army. But is he smart enough to save the planet?
#44 – Solarversia
Gamers who enjoy books like Ready Player One will be enthralled with Toby Downtown’s first novel titled Solarversia. Set in 2020, the novel portrays a year-long game modeled on the solar system. Nova Negrahnu, a second-year college student, can’t wait to begin playing Solarversia. She joins 100 million other people competing for the £10m grand prize. Soon Nova’s gaming addiction turns sour when the cult-like Holy Order threatens her virtual reality.
#45 – Red Rising
Red Rising begins 700 years after humankind colonized other planets and created a color-based social hierarchy where Golds rule. Darrow, a Red, spends his days mining helium-3 beneath Mars’ surface. After his wife Eo is hanged for singing, Darrow buries her body. His crime places him before the ArchGovernor Nero for death sentencing too. But the Sons of Ares, a Red terrorist group, help Darrow escape and join their fight to end oppression.
#46 – Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
Published in 2003, this science fiction novel revolves around Jules, a young man barely 100 years old in the Bitchun Society where death is obsolete. Jules is pursuing his boyhood dream of living at Disney World. With his girlfriend Lil, he joins an ad-hoc crew tasked with improving the Haunted Mansion. Suddenly, he’s murdered and awakens in a cloned body. Jules becomes entwined in a new adhocracy’s vindictive plots.
#47 – The Tripods
The Tripods is a post-apocalyptic story where humans are controlled by large, three-legged machines with alien Masters. At 14, people are implanted with “Caps” to repress curiosity and creativity. Will, a 13-year-old English boy, is approaching his Capping Day. He meets an uncapped man named Ozymandias and learns about a world beyond the Tripods’ power. With his cousin Henry, Will ventures to the White Mountains to join the resistance.
#48 – The Forest of Hands and Teeth
This action-packed trilogy begins with an catastrophe that turns most humans into mindless, cannibalistic zombies. The protagonist, Mary, lives in a village barricaded from the Forest of Hands and Teeth where the undead lurk. The fence meant to protect them also keeps them imprisoned under the Sisterhood’s rule. When the fence is breached, Mary follows her curiosity to see what lies beyond the village.
#49 – The City of Ember
To elude an impending apocalypse, scientists built a self-sufficient, subterranean city called Ember. After 241 years, Ember’s supplies are draining and the electric generator is decaying. Teenage friends Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow are determined to stop the city from going pitch black like the rest of Earth. Lina uncovers an ancient text from Ember’s builders. Together they must decipher the cryptic clues before the lights flicker out.
#50 – Brother in the Land
After nuclear war decimates Britain, a teenage boy named Danny Lodge and his brother Ben are among the unlucky survivors. A dystopian order is established in Skipley by the brutal Commissioner. Danny discovers there’s a new concentration camp for slave labor. Upset with the feudal society, Danny, Ben, and his friend Kim seek sanctuary with Sam Branwell. They join the Masada resistance movement to overthrow the Commissioner.
Pick up any of these books like Ready Player One for more gripping, near-future dystopian fiction where the lines between reality and virtual reality are blurred.