Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
James Halliday, one of the greatest technology inventors of all time. Where Steve Jobs made inventions only for the rich (iPhone X costing $1000), Halliday made his game free for everyone. The Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation, which is referred to as OASIS, is an online simulation game for massive multiplayer, that basically took over the world. Kids started to go to school in OASIS, companies bought online stores, OASIS politics became more well know than the real ones. And why not? The year is 2044, no one has food, water, electricity, they rely on OASIS and their avatar for an escape. When Halliday died, the whole world felt it. Halliday was not done with the world, as with no wife or kids, Halliday left his entire fortune to the winner of the biggest Hunt in the world’s history. Hidden in OASIS was three keys: Copper, Jade and Crystal, each key unlocked a gate. Once the third gate was unlocked and the Easter egg (an actually egg) was found, that person won Halliday’s life work. The whole world went crazy, as everyone started hunting all over OASIS for the copper key. Yet after a year and no progress, the hype started to die. It was only after five years since Halliday’s death when the first copper key was found by our main guy: Wade Watts.
Wade, a trailer park kid from Oklahoma City was given the option in grade 6 to either continue public school, or go to school on OASIS. Poor, and slightly chubby, Wade imminently snatched up on the change to attend school online with his avatar, instead of facing the school system with his real face. Hiding away from his Aunt’s trailer, Wade went to school in his hideout, and spent most of his time there on OASIS. At school his avatar was named Wade3 (there were already two other Wade’s at the school before he enrolled), but outside he was Parzival, named after Percival, who was one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. it was only in OASIS where Wade felt he could be his true self. His best friend Aech, of five years, have never met in person, but to them that did not matter, as they spent hours studying Halliday’s likes and dislikes in order to search for his egg. When Wade solves the clue that helped him obtain the Copper Key, the hunt was on. Meeting up with his favorite blogger, Art3mis, and brothers: Daito and Shoto, the five of them battle it out in a race for the keys, competing with cheating corporation IOI who was out to monopolized OASIS, by charging the world a fee to play OASIS, one that people like Wade could not afford. From giant robot battles, the perfect game of Pac-Man, this is one game where Game Over, could mean your actual death, so player one, are you ready?
In a text to my friends I describe this book as: Your average nerd quest to find a video game Easter egg with so many 70-90s that you guys will get more than me; and I stand by that recommendation. Ernest Cline filled this book with so many 70-90s references all across the globe, that an average video game player, like myself, got blown away. Therefore, when I got a reference (like the band Rush, and the movie The Iron Giant), I screamed with pride. Otherwise I was lost, as Cline spends several pages explaining that reference and why it worked. Which is totally fine, and kind of cool to know the context of that reference and how it works; yet doing that twice a chapter in the entire book? A little too much Cline. Beside the extreme amount of references, the story line was pretty interesting. With a sci-fi adventure, the Hunt provided an intense plot line that kept you reading throughout the night. The romance? Well, it was not really needed (especially the sex stuff in the middle), but every hero needs, so I am glad Wade had Art3mis. Truly a unique plot line about a not so distant future, as video game players hunt for billions of dollars in a video game Easter egg hunt. A recommended read to all nerds far and wide, weather you are like Wade and get all the references, like me, happy when you get the odd one.