Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
Twenty-eight years from now, in the year 2044, the world is falling apart. Things have gone so crazy that most people choose to spend their lives online in OASIS, the ultimate MMORPG where pretty much anything is possible.
Designed by eccentric gamer James Halliday, a fan of all things 80s, OASIS provides a home away from chaos. People can live and work in OASIS as long as they have the stamina and credits to do so. Kids can go to school there. Quests can be undertaken. Ultimate rewards await anyone who can figure out the clues.
And the ultimate quest on OASIS comes when James Halliday dies. As his last wish, he wills his entire multi-billion dollar fortune to anyone who can solve the clues, find the keys, and defeat the bosses first. The moment his quest is announced, the world goes crazy trying to solve the first clue. But as the years go by, people begin to think it's either impossible or fake.
Then Wade Watts stumbles upon the first key and everyone in the world finds out at almost the exact same time. Wade is now followed and adored; he's also wanted by some very dangerous people who will do almost anything to win the prize, including kill.
It's time for Wade to face the real world and the real consequences of living if he wants to solve the virtual puzzles hidden in OASIS.
Final thoughts: This is a gamer's dream book. It's addictive to anyone who's ever been addicted to games and/or was raised in the 80's. Obscure references are everywhere, as are pop-culture ones. I have a few questions about the legitimacy of Wade's hacking abilities considering the nearly 180 turn they take from the beginning to the end, but I'm willing to overlook them just because this is so well done.