How did I not know about this book? Seriously.
I geeked out so hard listening to the audiobook (Wil Wheaton narrating, with a laugh-out-loud mention as well). Yes, it’s a gamer story and yes, it is PACKED with 80’s references, but you do not have to be a gamer or an 80’s-phyle to love it.
The layered, complex world building is nearly overwhelming at times, in a drinking-from-a-fire-hose-of-awesomeness kind of way. Setting up the story requires a lot of “telling” but Cline has a way of making the info dump totally entertaining.
In the year 2044, the world is pretty screwed up — wars, poverty, pollution, global warming, you name it, it’s happened. But thanks to the OASIS, people don’t have to notice or care. This massively multiplayer online virtual reality simulation has become intertwined with reality and the place most people choosing to do their "living."
Teenager Wade Watts is one of them. He goes to school on an OASIS world, hangs out in its chat rooms with friends he’s never met IRL (in real life), and hopes to collect enough credits to explore more of its worlds without the help of his wealthy friend, Aech (take a day trip to Middle Earth! Spend the night on Tatooine!) The OASIS presents the perfect escape from Wade's life in the Stacks, mobile homes piled on top of each other to form miles of vertical trailer parks.
But then the OASIS’s creator, James Halliday, passes away. He has left behind a video will revealing he spent his last days programming a game like no other -- and hiding the keys to his kingdom within the kingdom itself. He sends the world on a quest: the first person to find three keys hidden within the OASIS will inherit his company and control of the OASIS itself.
The puzzles are built around Halliday’s love of all things 1980’s and soon Wade’s obsession with Halliday's obsession pays off as he unravels the mystery of the first Easter egg's location, and completes its corresponding quest. At the top of the world-wide leaderboard, Wade realizes others are willing to kill him to keep him from winning — including corporations who want control of the OASIS. Who can he trust when everyone around him is virtual? And can he figure out the world’s greatest puzzle in time?
This is one of those books that will keep you up all hours because there just isn’t a good place to bookmark for the night. The Wiki says WB holds the movie rights, but no news about that. I'd imagine securing licensing would take a bit.
Absolutely a must-read if you consider yourself even the tiniest bit geeky.