Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This was an epic, epic book. Ready Player One is pretty much an anthology of all the pop culture references from the 1980s.
I tackled this book in a hybrid form. I snagged the audiobook from my online library without really knowing what it was about - I just knew the book was everywhere. What made me go ahead and pick out the audiobook was because it was read by Wil Wheaton.
Let me just say - Wil Wheaton did a fantastic job with the audiobook. Your enjoyment (or lack thereof) of an audiobook can really hinge on the narrator. Wheaton really was excellent.
So, when I started the audiobook I had no clue what the book was even really about other than the title sounded "gamer-ish". Imagine my surprise when a book chock full of 1980s nostalgia with an engrossing plot emerged.
And when I say the book is chock full of nostalgia...I mean it's crammed into every page, paragraph, and sentence. Cline would throw one reference at you...and then you'd get backhanded by another reference. There were moments it was almost too much. Almost. Cline does a masterful job of combining the 80s nostalgia with the overarching plot...so, the book doesn't devolve into a 1980s trivia game, but rather each piece of nostalgia is part of the whole story. It really is well done.
Unfortunately, I am the world's slowest audiobook listener (this audiobook probably took me a solid 4 weeks to get through) and I ran out of time with the library. But by that point my eyes had been opened and I realized this was definitely a new favorite - so I added the print copy to my library and finished it off within the day.
So what's the book about? I'm going to let the publisher's blurb do the talking on this one. Definitely add this one to your reading bucket list.
Here's the blurb for you:
"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?"