The year is 2044, and the “irl” world as we know it is in a state of decay. Nearly everyone on Earth is logged onto The Oasis- a fully immersive online utopia, a virtual reality that is more than just a video game, it is a way of life. One morning, a video that would soon become the most viewed Youtube clip in history was released following the death of the creator of The Oasis, eccentric multi-billionaire James Halliday. He announces to the world that before he died, he had concealed an easter egg (a hidden secret within a video game) somewhere within The Oasis, and the first person to find it would inherit his entire estate- around $240 billion dollars. Halliday invites players to find three keys- copper, jade, and crystal, that will then unlock the easter egg and win his fortune. A year passes, and no one is able to locate the first key. When even more years pass, people begin to joke that there is no such thing, and the keys became somewhat of an urban legend. Then, 5 years following the video, a name appears at the top of the high scores list on Halliday’s website. The copper key had been found, by an 18 year old kid living in a trailer park. The events that followed would become the most told story in history.
That kid is Wade Watts, known online as Parzival. He lives in the Stacks, a vast group of trailers that are stacked on top of one another, a common lifestyle for the lower class. Parzival is known as a “gunter”, a nickname given to the large number of egg hunters that are still in search of Halliday’s fortune five years after his death. Inside of the Oasis, Parisival is what we might consider a noob; his combat experience is only level three, and he doesn’t have very much in-game currency to his name. However for gunters, the ability to fight is not considered a player’s most important attribute. James Halliday was raised in an era that he was also completely obsessed with: the 80’s. Halliday makes repeated references to the decade in his contest video, and every gunter and their mother knows that in order to find Halliday’s easter egg, one will need to know everything there is to know about 80’s pop culture. Along with his high-level best friend Aech, Parzival spends each waking moment outside of school studying and enjoying the movies, music, books, and video games of the 1980’s. Knowledge of the time period is not only considered cool, it is your best shot at finding the egg.
Using his wealth of 80’s trivia and l33t video games skills, Parzival is the first player ever to find the copper key, and becomes an instant celebrity in The Oasis. Unfortunately, this also makes him a target. There is an army of mercenaries within the Oasis known as The Sixers who want to find Haliday’s egg simply so their employer can gain control of the Oasis, and ruin it for free-to-play users. Parzival may have been the first to obtain the copper key, but there are still two more to find before he can claim Halliday’s fortune. Things really start to heat up when Parzival’s long time crush Art3mis joins him on the high score list, when she becomes the second player to find the copper key. Friends become the competition, and the game Parzival once lived to play becomes a game he plays to live.
“I burned through all of my extra lives in a matter of minutes, and my two least-favorite words appeared on the screen: GAME OVER.”
This book is an absolute must-read for gamers, but even some of my friends who have never touched a controller in their lives can attest to the incredible adventure that this story brings to the table, and that’s why Ready Player One comes in at number three on my favorite books of all time. Parzival’s unforgettable journey brings video games to life, and shows that the only thing more valuable than the reward to a quest is the experience you gain along the way.
Thank you for reading what I have to say about books! The Cloud Atlas review has been delayed, but stay tuned for that and my #2 favorite book of all time review coming soon!