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I can’t remember having as much fun reading a book as I had with READY PLAYER ONE. I give it five stars only because I can’t give more.

Here’s the set-up.

It’s 2044 and the real world is a mess. Most people live a meager existence. All fossil fuels ran out years back. Solar energy is mostly it and it’s strictly rationed. The majority of people survive with food vouchers.

OASIS(Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation) is where most folks function. The biggest internet game ever constructed, it has thousands of worlds to explore. There’s a Star Trek sector, one for Star Wars, one for most every TV show and movie ever created. Every piece of music ever recorded can be accessed. One can set up their own virtual world. It has every computer game ever designed within, down to the very first: pong. Whatever one desires can be found somewhere within the virtual worlds set up.

All you need is a console, provided, goggles, and haptic gloves. There are, of course, more expensive rigs one can buy.

How much does it cost?

Twenty-five cents buys you a lifetime subscription. To be sure, there are things that cost in OASIS. People set up businesses, folks shop, teleportation to any world costs.

It was designed and launched by James Halliday, born in the late seventies and immersed in the pop culture of his childhood. When he died, he was worth something on the order of one hundred forty-six billion dollars.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Halliday had never married, had no living relatives, no friends anymore, so he prepared a video that went out to every OASIS user, millions of them, after his death. Somewhere in those thousands of virtual worlds, he’d hidden an Easter egg and the one who found it, got everything: all the money, control of OASIS.

The little film sent out to users had the first clue. Three keys had to be found, in order, opening three gates, with some sort of puzzle inside each to be solved.

That launched a massive hunt and time passed. They were called Gunters and some banded into clans with the purpose of all splitting the fortune when discovered. There was also a corporation hunting the fortune, IOI, and they wanted control of OASIS to make it better, i.e., start charging for everything. They employed thousands of hunters, each paid well, but the company would clear the final gate when it came to that.

The hunt had gone on for four years and not a hint of the location of the Easter egg had ever been found. Some of the hysteria had died down. There were still thousands of gunters looking though. Just news coverage was almost non-existent anymore.

Then our hero, Wade Watts, online name Parcival, seventeen and about to graduate high school, deciphers the clue to the first key, finds it, and clears the gate.

Unfortunately, everyone in the world knows about it. You see, Halliday had set up a scoreboard in OASIS patterned after the old coin-operated games of his youth that posted Wade’s score at number one. Once that happens, the hunt is back on in full force.

Wade makes friends with four other gunters and they all end up at the top of the board. But IOI is close behind and Wade learns something else. They aren’t above killing to stop anyone in their way and have thousands of experts feeding the Avatars out hunting the egg.

As I said, loved this one. It’s full of references to old TV shows I watched or knew of, favorite movies, and music I listened to. All play a aprt in the hunt fot Halliday’s Easter egg.

In looking over the reviews on Amazon, I’m sure there are books that got more, the range is all over the place, from one to five stars. But the five stars outnumber all others together ten to one. And we’re talking about seven hundred reviews.

Recommended. READY PLAYER ONE can be ordered HERE.