Written in 2011 by the American novelist and screenwriter Ernest Cline, his first published novel Ready Player One is a science fiction and dystopian novel. Drawing heavily from American culture in the 1980s, Ready Player One presents a near-future dystopia where an internet-like virtual simulation called the OASIS has become an integral part of society, with the simulation functioning as a realistic, virtual society.
The protagonist, Wade, is set on finding three keys left behind by the deceased creator of OASIS, James Donovan Halliday, to gain access to Halliday's vast fortune in the real world.
The novel is not only an enthralling read filled with nostalgic references and excellent, well-timed writing, it also light-heartedly satirizes modern society and culture by presenting a society withdrawing further and further into the virtual world to escape from their desperate and depressive reality, providing the motivation for the protagonist, poverty-stricken Wade Owen Watts to engage his near-fanatical search for the three hidden keys.
This story contains overarching themes of self-discovery and presenting scenarios like the conflict between reality and the virtual world, the futility of existence, the fulfillment of one's deepest desires in a virtual world and the moral dilemma of how far one can go to fulfill these desires.