This is a tricky one. I loved the book so much that I read it in just over a week. And it was my first non game of thrones related reading for seven months. However, I watched the film three times in the cinema, and I would quite happily pay to go again and again and again.
The movie gives such strong visuals, that I felt like I too was living in the OASIS, that I was a member of the High Five. I felt like a part of the video game, and that I was a part of something special. When I read the book, I felt like I was reading about someone (Wade Watts) playing a virtual reality video game. So the movie allowed me to lose myself inside of it, and the book forced me to remain logical and practical about the narrative unfolding, forcing me to stay in the real world.
SPOILER ALERT! I REPEAT SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER OR SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH!
IOI are way scarier in the books, shown when they murder Daito in his home and cover it up to look like a suicide. The High Five become the High Four in this twisted turn of events that the movie choose not to keep in the movie adaptation. (Thank goodness- I couldn’t bear to lose my beloved Daito, portrayed by the adorable Win Morisaki, the love of my life.) The IOI representatives in the film are still capable of murder (the explosion in the stacks happens in both texts) but I’m less scared by their actions in the film than I am the books. IOI are dangerous, so thank you Ernest Kline for the nightmares.
The challenges to get the keys are very different. And Wade’s extra life is acquired in the different way. I won’t go into detail how, because spoilers, but I can just say the movie challenges are WAY better. The car chase scene, the shining scene, the bet with the Curator for the extra life (that we don’t know about until Parzival is the only avatar left alive after IOI let the Cataclyst explode) and then playing Adventure not to win, but just to play. All these challenges and riddles and 80s pop culture references all lead to Wade Watts/Parzival being given the golden egg within the game. In the book, Wade Watts is the narrator and we know within the first few sentences that he was the winner of James Halliday’s OASIS challenge. The book is the untelling of all the events that led to him winning.
Enter Parzival’s Clan: Art3mis, Aech, Daito and Sho. The one major difference between book and film is that the book takes place over 6 months to a year. It is unclear how long the movie spans for, but it can’t be more than a fortnight.
Coupled with the most AMAZING soundtrack I have ever heard, and the best actors for the roles they played, I rate the movie 5*. There is nothing I would change about it. I wouldn’t change anything about the book either, because it does a great job of forcing the reader to remain in the real world, a concept that is lost on the characters you read about.
Read the book. Watch the movie. Love yourself.