I absolutely loved this book. I know an audiobook is good when it makes me sit in my car outside my garage (so I don’t die from asphyxiation) and continue listening after I get home. This book is read by Wil Wheaton, who just has a great voice with fun inflections, and tone changes, and all that is good in the world.
This book was 15 hours long, so there’s a lot to cover. I really don’t want to give anything away, so I’m going to do do a bare bones plot overview. I had so much fun seeing what was coming next!
We start out with Wade Watts (I think that’s his name – his real name isn’t as important in this story as it is in others!). He’s poor, orphaned, and living with his uncaring assholy aunt. They live in stacked trailers that sound super scary and treacherous. But don’t worry, Wade leads a rich cyber life. A man named Halliday created a virtual reality / video game / online world called The Oasis. Basically everyone spends as much time as possible in The Oasis because the real world is toast. There was an energy crisis, and lots of people are poor and just scraping by. Fortunately, Wade’s school is online, and it provides all the gear required to use The Oasis. His online name (outside of school) is Parzival. I think he was one of the knights of the round table? I can’t remember.
The crux of the story is the search for Halliday’s Easter Egg. It’s basically tons of money that Halliday left as a prize to whoever could figure out his puzzles after he died. People had been working on it for five years before Wade cracked the first hint. They tell you that in the first few minutes, so I’m totally not spoiling anything. In fact, I got so immersed in the story telling that I forgot about that fact and was just wondering if Wade was going to do well.
There are lots and lots of puzzles, 80’s trivia, video game deep dives, and movie references. The story can’t be dated for a loooong time, because most of the pop culture references are from the 80’s, and we’re already way past that time. Parzival makes friends online, and they stay with us throughout the story. I legitimately laughed, cried, and was shocked multiple times. I totally recommend this book!!!
I NEARLY FORGOT! They do one of the cheesy things that I just unashamedly love in books. They say the title of the book in the book! When you go to sign on to The Oasis, “ready player one” flashes on the screen. It’s a nod to Halliday’s obsession with 80’s video games. It made me smile!