Book Review - Ready Player One
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, takes place in 2044 - a depressingly realistic future if humanity remains on it's current trajectory. The unlikely hero is dumpy, clever and sarcastic Wade Watts. He's orphaned and lives in a trailer park with his aunt, who has a Dickens-esque quality to her nastiness. He, like the multitude of the masses in this future, escapes his dreary surroundings each day into The Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation (OASIS). (My favorite utilization of the OASIS is the public school system - the programming does't allow bullying or any other abusive behavior and language, and teachers can take students on virtual field trips, hence increasing the interest in their lessons.)
In the OASIS, Wade's avatar is Parzival, and he's a gunter. Gunters are a subculture of "egg hunters" spawned because the mega-wealthy creator of the OASIS, James Donovan Halliday dies. He was an eccentric, borderline antisocial genius, obsessed with the 80s. His virtual last well and testament states that he's hidden an "egg" within the OASIS, and the one who finds the egg will be the sole beneficiary of his massive fortune.
The clues and riddles he left are based in his obsession with 80s pop culture. Even the idea of the egg hunt is inspired by a neat little treasure hunt created by an Atari programmer looking for his rightful recognition! While in the real world Wade is friendless, in the OASIS his best bud is another popular gunter, who's avatar is Aech (pronounced like the letter H). And he befriends another, Ar3tmis, whose blog he follows and with whom he's completely smitten.
Wade uncovers the first clue five years after Halliday's death, and this opens the floodgates for others to solve the riddle and continue on - including his friends and the Sixers. This also brings torrent of fame and lethal danger. Inside the OASIS, Wade and his companions need to delve the depths of their pop knowledge and test the limits of their gaming abilities to unlock the riddles, and make it through portals. In the real world, Wade escapes death and has to make a daring trip into the heart of IOI in order to level the playing field after the Sixers block access to a clue within the OASIS.
You don't have to be an 80's aficionado or gamer to fall completely in love with this smartly written, sweet, action-packed adventure. I implore you - run to your library, bookstore, or download it from Amazon this instant!