Ernest Cline’s science fiction novel looks at a world where living in a virtual reality game, the OASIS, is better than real life. The protagonist, Wade Watts, is a teenager with no parents, prospects, or future. The novel focuses on the battle for the late James Halliday’s Easter egg, which is hidden within the OASIS and can only be found by solving a number of clues. Wade becomes the first "gunter" (Egg Hunter) to find the First Key, and his life is changed overnight. He must face evil, embodied in the company IOI and its corporate soldiers, the Sixers. He makes allies with other gunters, particularly Art3mis, Aech, and Shoto.
When Wade meets Art3mis, he falls in love with her, even though he has only ever interacted with her in the OASIS. Wade fights against the IOI, which wants to find the Easter egg in order to control the OASIS and the millions that inhabit it every day. While this may be a virtual world, it contains real people who use the OASIS for their livelihoods. He faces challenges and overcomes obstacles, on the way to becoming the first to make it to the Third Gate. Along the way, he learns that life is meaningless without companionship and love.