Essentially the plot of the novel is that it’s about 40 years into the future and there’s a terrible recession and most of the population is extremely poor – like volunteering to become an indentured servant just to get three square meals and safe housing poor. But when James Halliday, the richest and most revered man alive, dies with no heirs, everyone is given a glimmer of hope after the reading of his will. He has left a stipulation in it that whoever can find the Easter egg in his creation OASIS (the Web-based alternate reality in which everyone lives and plays to escape the bleakness of reality), he/she will inherit his billions of dollars and empire. Poor orphan teenager Wade Watts has been searching for James Halliday’s Easter egg since the beginning of the contest 5 years ago and he is the first person to make any progress. This of course makes him famous, and also puts him in the spotlight of the evil corporation IOI, an organization that’s trying to control and capitalize OASIS, which has always been free and available to the public due to Halliday’s philanthropic ways. Halliday reminded me of a mixture of Steve Jobs, Willie Wonka, and Sheldon Cooper – an odd but incredibly enjoyable combo. In fact, all of the main characters (with the exception of Sorrento, the major bad guy, who was more of just a face for the whole evil corporation) were extremely three-dimensional and I easily became invested in each of them.
This book contains amazing and fantastically realistic world-building. There are literally thousands of worlds and planets in OASIS and Cline describes each of the ones that they visit brilliantly and completely. The real world is also portrayed so convincingly that you can easily believe that this could be our future one day. I thought this book was an awesome, amazing adventure and I just couldn’t put it down. It reminded me a lot of Ultima Online, a MMORPG I used to play, especially with the quest in the dungeon at the beginning of the book. It’ll probably bring back good memories of old games and movies you used to play/watch too, so it’s a nice little trip to nostalgia-land. I highly recommend it and plan on making my husband (an über nerd – and I mean that in the most loving way possible) read it because it was pretty much written for him.