I read this book after learning about the litRPG genre and seeing the upcoming movie trailer. I heard this story is a good introduction to the genre, so I picked it up first before diving into a bunch of other litRPGs. Ready Player One definitely has that prominent video game aspect of a litRPG, but it felt more like a dystopian sci-fi adventure to me. Not a bad thing. I'm still new to litRPGs, but the others I've read feel more like playing actual RPGs with character stats, leveling up, and that rush that goes along with those increases in power.
Okay, so what did I think about the book? I quite enjoyed it. I'm gonna go ahead and give it five stars because I don't really have a complaint. It was enjoyable all the way through, and I read it quickly. I always give praise when a book gets me hooked and demands I read it fast. At times, the references could make you feel like you were missing out on something if you aren't well-versed in 80s pop culture, but that was also a big part of the story's charm. It wouldn't be the same without it.
The story is that search and find adventure formula. The creator of the OASIS (this huge game pretty much everyone in the world plays because you can do anything inside of it and escape crappy reality), James Halliday, was obsessed with the 80s. He had this video released after his death telling people to search for an Easter egg he hid in the game. Whoever finds it inherits his entire corporation. That's where all the references come in. The gunters (Easter egg hunters) have to know all about the 80s and Halliday's obsessions to have any chance at finding his Easter egg. It's a race to find keys and unlock gates with real life coinciding.
Wade Watts is the main character. He wants to find this Easter egg like everyone else. He's the first person to find the first key in the game and knows all about Halliday's 80s obsessions. He lives those obsessions. He doesn't have much of a life outside of the game just like a lot of people in this dystopian future. His best friend is in game, and he's never met him IRL. He doesn't have anyone IRL who is close to him. Nothing in real life matters aside from survival.
The adventure in-game playing out side by side with reality was engaging, how everything came together and how the characters grew and changed. I like how it all culminated in the end. I hate spoilers so I'm going to avoid that by not saying much else, but I will say I was quite satisfied with the ending and where all the characters ended up with the game and with the real world. I grew fond of them and wanted things to resolve in a way they deserved after all they fought for. That's the kind of ending I'm about. I don't need a specific kind of ending as long as it was the kind of ending that story deserved, good or bad, happy or sad. This ending did that for me. Well done!