Here's the summary from Goodreads: It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?
What I Liked: 1) The narrator. I can't even imagine anyone better to narrate this particular story than Wil Wheaton. He does a great job expressing the different emotions Wade is running through as he plays Halliady's game, and he also modulates his voice expertly for different characters (although it's Wade most of the time). Wil Wheaton was a great choice. 2) The pop culture references. I loved all of the pop culture references, and actually knew a lot of them. As a child of the 80s (well, sort of), how could I not? And I appreciated how cleverly Mr. Cline worked the references into the story. They had meanings and reasons for being there, instead of just random filler or comic relief. This is enough alone to persuade me to read the book. 3) The chase. A majority of the book is dedicated to the contest that began when James Halliday died. And though it's been years since the contest began, because no one has made any progress everything is still up for grabs. Wade spends almost all of his free time working on this intricate puzzle. Wade is chasing the answers to these riddles and pop culture quizzes throughout the whole story and with each new discovery comes a new spark of excitement. 4) The pacing. Major props for the pacing on this story. It's never slow. From the first page the story (at least with the audiobook, which technically doesn't have pages) everything moved quickly and smoothly, high energy blazing a path for me as a reader to sail right along side with Wade. 5) The Oasis. I thought the Oasis sounded cool. I don't know much about virtual reality and how any of that works or might work in the future, but the idea is intriguing. I think that I'd go to the beach, especially if it was a cold winter day. Though for me, really good books are almost like virtual reality - if I can imagine it, and get into the story so much that I feel like I'm there, then it really it like VR.
What I Didn't Like: I loved this story!
Overall Thoughts: Ready Player One was something new to me, and a bit outside the norm of what I usually read. But it was funny, smart, and so energetic that I couldn't help but enjoy myself. The pop culture references were all so familiar and the puzzles were clever and just challenging enough to keep you guessing, but you could find the trail to figure out the answer. And with Wil Wheaton narrating, the story came to life as he read it. There is something for everyone in Ready Player One and I would recommend everyone check it out. If you're a fan of audiobooks then try this one as an AB, because the narrator makes a huge difference!
My Rating: 5 shots