In 2045, the real world is a bleak place. Climate change has caused a global energy crisis. Poverty, famine, disease, and wars plague every continent. So who can blame Wade Watts, our protagonist, if he spends most of his time in a virtual world OASIS? Oasis, a virtual-reality universe, is the only release most of humanity finds from reality.
In Oasis, players assume any identity they want as they navigate one of its hundreds of different worlds. The creator, legendary billionaire James Halliday, even created a virtual planet for schools that most children now attend rather than brick-and-mortar buildings. Wade is a senior at one of Halliday’s virtual schools, orphaned at 11, lives with drug-addicted aunt and her abusive boyfriend in his vertical trailer park in Oklahoma City (Columbus, Ohio in the upcoming movie) and Wade’s only friend is a boy named Aech. At least Wade thinks Aech is a boy; they have only met as avatars in Oasis.
Wade and Aech are avid scholars of the life of James Halliday. After Halliday’s passing, he left a curious will. He had devised an elaborate online game, a hunt for a hidden Easter egg. The egg allows the winner to inherit all of Halliday’s substantial wealth, but more importantly, he will receive unlimited power in Oasis. Halliday left a cryptic poem as a clue before he died, but for the last five years, no one has deciphered it.
Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, is the first gunter (egg-hunter) to win the Copper Key, first of three. Wade is not alone in his search though many gunters, no longer search, believing the hunt to be an elaborate hoax but IOI, a global conglomerate, also seeks the egg. IOI has hired an elite team of gunters, known as Sixers (players willing to kill to find the egg), so they can control Oasis as part of their business.
So now the race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win unlimited power in Oasis and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
Click here to check out the book, before the movie comes out in March of 2018.