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-Man, 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.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
(--synopsis from Goodreads)
I absolutely loved this book! The world that is created in this futuristic book is incredible. The "real world" has been basically destroyed by war and people live in stacked trailers 20 or 30 units high. The streets are dangerous and anything of value is stolen immediately. The only relief from the world is the virtual world of OASIS.
Wade is such a likeable character. He's a poor, teenage boy who lives with his aunt. His parents have passed away and his remaining family members steal anything he is able to keep. He was only able to obtain an OASIS console if he was willing to go to virtual school. When Halliday dies Wade embarks on the treasure hunt for the hidden "Easter Eggs" and the big prize.
Along the way Wade works with his virtual best friend and his virtual crush. While they share basic information it's every man for himself in a race to the finish. The entire book is riddled with fun references to the 1980's. The music, the video games, and the TV show knowledge that the characters need to know was so much fun for me to read about as a child of the 80's. Even the "Easter eggs" reminded me of secret rooms and pathways I found in the original Nintendo and Sega systems.
In the end the book is all about fighting for what you believe and knowing who your friends really are. This is a book I could easily read over and over again and find something new in it every time.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.