Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
If you like masturbating and you like video games, you’ll love spending 400 pages reading the literary equivalent of jerking off to geek culture. 80s movies, EverQuest, Wil Wheaton, the concept of the Internet as a utopia, this book is ripe with nostalgia for the good old early 2000s. Reading this tribute to the golden heyday of being a late 70s / early 80s kid on the Internet during the few years the Internet was good was the most fun I’ve had since playing EverQuest, but as if any of these things would still be relevant in 2044. EverQuest isn’t even relevant now, to my chagrin; I spent five years of my life absorbed in that damn game. I also spent hours absorbed in this spirited novel.
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS – a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune – and remarkable power – to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved – that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Mac, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt – among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life – and love – in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.