Publisher: Broadway Books
Description: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines--puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win--and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. (From the back cover)
Review: This book really sucked me in. It probably helps that I remember the 80s very fondly, even if I wasn't personally familiar with most of the tv shows and some of the movies.
The story itself is a bit predictable. I never expected the evil corporation to win, and a couple of important twists are mentioned in ways that make you expect them to be important, even if you aren't sure how.
However, I liked the characters quite a bit. Wade was likable and resourceful, two character traits you want in the protagonist of this kind of story, and the other heroes in the book felt reasonably fleshed out, not just side-kicks or a cheerleading squad Wade. I also believed the virtual world of OASIS as something people would become obsessed with. That's something I've seen done really unconvincingly a few too many times in other invented for the plot video games in the past.
It didn't really surprise me at any point, but I liked the characters and enjoyed the ride.