Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline is a super fun book. Set in a not-too-distant future, life is pretty grim. Most people -- like 18 year old Wade Watts -- spend their time plugged into the virtual world of the Oasis. What started out as a multiplayer online computer game has become a substitute for reality. In the Oasis you can attend school, get a job, fall in love, have adventures, travel, play games, fight dragons...the possibilties are endless. Oasis currency is more real and valuable than any other currency in the world, and its creator James Halliday revered as a god. When Halliday dies, the world is shocked to learn that (with the exception of his arcade collection), Halliday has left his fortune -- and his company -- to the first person who can find the "easter egg" hidden somewhere in the Oasis. Figure out the clues, find the three keys, the three gates, and complete the tasks set up in each one. Success depends on skill, luck, and knowledge of 80s pop culture -- Halliday's obsession.
Ready Player One will probably appeal most to anyone who enjoys video games and/or 80s pop culture, because at times it almost feels like the author wanted a way to get nostalgic and rosy-eyed over his own love of the 80s. But while it occasionally feels a little self-indulgent, it's also a good story on its own, easily enjoyed by anyone who likes a good action/adventure with a sprinkling of sci-fi (Although I will say, if you hate video games...you might want to pass). Cline's pacing is spot on, keeping you glued to each page, not wanting to put it down. I listened to it on audio -- often while running -- and I have to say, I ran a lot of miles while I was reading this book! I also thought Cline did a great job with the primary characters -- Wade in particular has a stong voice -- a sarcastic, synical, snarky, smart-mouthed teenage boy voice. Some of the more outlying characters (like the villain) were a little one-dimensional, but in some ways that's kind of fitting for a video game masquerading as a book. Ready Player One also gives voice to outcasts -- to people who believe they need a little alternate reality in order to be accepted. I like the way this theme plays out -- empowerment ftw!
My words aren't very eloquent today, so I'll stop rambling and finish with this: if you like 80s pop culture, video games, stories about outcasts, adventures, light sci-fi, action, or fun and witty dialogue, then you should pick up this book. (in audio -- Wil Wheaton is a great narrator)