It is the year 2044 and the planet is in serious trouble. World oil supplies have all but dried up, causing the economy to meltdown. Unemployment rates are breaking records. Fuel prices are so high that people cannot afford to drive anywhere; automobiles are abandoned everywhere. Instead of traveling, people just stay in their homes and live life in the virtual reality of the OASIS, the successor to the internet. James Halliday, the inventor of OASIS, has passed away and he had no heirs. His will states that his entire fortune will be left to the one person who can solve his online treasure hunt.

Wade Watts is a teenager with a very rough home life. His parents died when he was younger and he is forced to live with his abusive aunt and her string of boyfriends in the stacks outside Oklahoma City. The stacks are trailer and mobile homes stacked on one another 20 units high. Most do not even have plumbing. Like most kids, Wade attends school online. To escape the hell that real life has become, he escapes to the OASIS every chance he gets when he isn’t in class. He, like everyone else, spends every waking moment searching for Halliday’s Easter Egg. What sets Wade apart from the others is after years of searching, he finds the first key. This sets off a firestorm of action, on and offline. Wade’s life (if he survives) will never be the same.

The thing that sets this book apart from everything else released this year is the cornucopia of pop culture references. Barely a single page goes by without a mention of 80’s related trivia. Halliday was a child of the eighties and wanted the world to share his experiences so his clues to the whereabouts of the three keys to his fortune can only be found by having an intimate knowledge of the ‘decade of excess’. The entire planet becomes obsessed with Halliday’s youth. Everyone, it seems, can recite the dialogue from ‘WarGames’, ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Square Pegs’.

I thoroughly enjoyed every single page of this book. Not only does it take you back to the Good Old Days, but the story itself is an old fashioned adventure quest with a little bit of a love story added. This is the first novel from Ernest Cline who wrote the cult classic movie, ‘Fanboys’. Do yourself a huge favor and get your hands on a copy of ‘Ready Player One’.

Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline
Hardcover 384 pages
Crown Books
Publication Date: August 16, 2011