I pretty much loved everything about this book. I listened to this book on audio, imagine my surprise when I realized that this was narrated by Will Wheaton (I just listened to Fuzzy Nation a couple weeks ago which was also narrated by Will Wheaton) and he again did an absolutely stellar job of narrating. This book is so fun and is really a kick to read if you were ever interested in, or part of, 80's geek culture. It also has a strong cyperpunk feel to it; so fans of cyberpunk should also considering checking this book out.
Wade lives in 2044 and the future is bleak, power shortages have most of humanity struggling and out of work. So most of humanity live their lives in the OASIS; a virtual reality creaked by James Halliday that consists of thousands of worlds. This is where Wade goes to school, where he plays, and where he is raised. When Halliday dies he leaves the ultimate puzzle/lottery behind. Halliday has hidden an Easter Egg in the OASIS and whoever finds it will win Halliday's substantial fortune. Wade is one of many Gunters (egg hunters) who has spent years searching for the prize. When Wade stumbles on a clue that leads him to the first key his life is changed forever.
Did you grow up in the 80's? Do you love games of all types? If so this is the book for you. This book basically is everything 80's geek culture could ever ask for. There are references to numerous 80's video games in here: Joust, Golden Ax, PacMan, Zork, and many others. As well as references to 80's movies, music, TV shows, etc. All of this is wrapped into a quest to find three keys, conquer three gates and win the prize. So there is a bit of a classic Dungeons and Dragons feel to the book as well. But this is DnD with a cyber punk twist. Certain worlds will allow magic, and others tech, but chaos regions allow for both creating some truly mind-blowing scenes involving magic, guns, and lasers. The amount of awesome 80's trivia in this book is incredible; Cline definitely put a ton of research into writing this book.
This isn't just a geek fest, there is a lot to think about in this book too. Wade's closest friends are people he's never meet in person. Wade also spends a very small amount of time in the real world; his body is mearly a piece of equipment that he keeps exercised and fed so that he can jack in to the OASIS. This brings up questions about what it means to live; do we need to do things in person for them to be real and fulfilling? As you learn more about the genius that is Halliday this question comes to a head; was he happy with his creation or did he regret his lack of interaction with other humans?
Then there is the evil corporation that has hired people to play in the OASIS for them; this group of OASIS players is known as the sixers and they do everything in their power to win Halliday's Easter Egg. The sixers are basically everything corporate that Halliday hated. With the Gunters going against the Sixers you have a classic story about the normal everyday man facing off against the evil corporation.
As Wade and his friends make more progress towards finding the Easter Egg consequences start to leak out of the OASIS into the real world and people start dying. It becomes less and less clear where the OASIS ends and the real world begins.
The characters in this book are awesome; they are all so real and fun to read about. The story is absolutely engaging, it is pretty quest based so that is the main driver...but as the story continues it becomes more and more compelling and impossible to put down.
All in all this book was an absolute blast to read. It was a fun read for someone like me who loves gaming of all types, it provided some great food for thought, it was funny and heartwarming, full of great action scenes and completely engaging. I highly recommend this book. My only caution would be if you do not like gaming and do not know anything about 80's culture then a lot of this book is going to go right over your head. A lot of the negative reviews for this book are from people who don't like gaming or just don't get it. So, uh, seriously if you don't like gaming why are you are reading a cyberpunk fantasy novel about 80's gaming culture called Ready Player One!?
Highly recommended, an absolute blast to read, I can't wait to see what Cline comes up with next.
One of the other reviews I read for this book called it "Nostalgia Porn" and that seems like a hugely accurate descriptor. If you're actually in the set of people to whom that nostalgia resonates, this book is fantastic. If you're a young teen who likes hunt for treasure stories, you'll probably like it too.
This is the story of a hunt in virtual reality through 1980s video games and movies. A rather desperate hunt actually, in a fascinating virtual world and in a devastated real world. There are puzzles, which are fun (and which I was quite proud of solving faster than the protagonist), and there is a light touching of the deeper philosophical implications of a populace that spends most of it's time (both leisure and work) in a virtual landscape.
If you aren't a 1980s geek, this book may have very little for you. But if you played old text adventures between your Dungeons & Dragons games, you are smack dab in the middle of this book's target demographic and will probably have a great time. Those descriptor certainly describe me, and I absolutely did have a great time. (And for what it's worth, my teenage, treasure-hunting son loved it too.)
5 of 5 stars.
This is a fun book if you like rooting for the underdog and if you recognize the 80s references (which you will if you lived through them: PacMan, Devo, etc). Its not particularly well written, but its not too techie either, so the lay-reader like myself can follow the plot easily.