Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
When I read Ready Player One it reminded me of a cross between the last Harry Potter book and Hunger Games with the same premise of a lone teen battling evil. The book is set in the United States in the year 2044 when things have gone bad due to climate change and poverty. Wade Watts is an impoverished 18-year-old orphan living in a vertical trailer park called the “stacks”. He has rigged up a junked van as his sanctuary where he can log into his virtual school and spend all of his free time in the virtual world of OASIS. OASIS is a huge multiplayer game filled with virtual planets, and people log in every day to escape their real lives by living through their avatars in a virtual reality. Wade, whose avatar’s name is Parzival, is obsessed with finding the “Easter egg” that James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, put there before he died. The person who finds the egg will inherit Halliday’s fortune. There are 3 keys to be found and 3 gates to go through in order to find the egg. Many people, called gunters which is a contraction of egg hunter, are trying to solve the puzzles and get the egg including the IOI company, a huge conglomerate that also provides internet access. Halliday was obsessed with the 1980s when he was a teen so the quest for the egg is full of references to 1980s movies, TV shows, videogames, comics, and popular music. Wade’s only friend is a virtual friend whose avatar is called Aech (pronounced H). When Wade figures out where the first key is, he is pursued by IOI, and IOI will stop at nothing including murder in their quest for the egg. Along the way, Wade makes virtual friends with the woman whose avatar is Art3mis and 2 Japanese gunters whose avatars are Daito and Shoto. Although it helps to be familiar with videogames and 1980s popular culture, you do not have to be a geek or an expert on 1980s popular culture because most of the references are explained. Movie rights have been sold to Warner Brothers with no date yet for production or release, so you could read the book while you wait. The book is always better than the movie anyway, right?