Takes place in a somewhat dystopian but in many respects believable future in which most of the populace spends its time logged into a virtual reality called the Oasis. The Oasis' creator, James Halliday, is a huge 1980's buff and before his death sets up an elaborate quest contest within the Oasis to see who will inherit his fortune (reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). After his death and the announcement of his will, the contest and Halliday's beloved 1980's become almost a religion and the race to find three keys and the easter egg hidden in the Oasis begins.
Oh Boy, did I love this book. It gets five stars not because of its profundity or literary merit but because its is just so much fun. It is almost a note perfect adventure story, with great pacing, a fun story, lovable protaganists and really bad baddies.
This book is a love letter to the 1980's which could have seemed gimmicky except that Ernest Cline's affection is so obvoiusly genuine. The heavy focus on 80's pop culture may turn some people off but I really think anyone will love this book because its a classic quest story, well told. His imaginings about the Oasis and how it works and the role it takes in society are also so fun, and a little scary to explore.
And to seal the deal on how much I loved this book - this is the first 5 star rating I've given a book in over a year. And I give it without hesitation. Play on!