While I was on vacation this Summer I read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Bryan's quick review summarized it nicely like this:
Ready Player One is somewhere at the intersection of science fantasy, nerd humor, and romance. It's full of jokes and puzzles and references to classic elements of the 80'sThe book is full of action and adventure. The author is good at describing the games which are an essential part of the plot. The author's style actually reminded me quite a bit of my friend Conor Kostick's books, which also have a strong relation to video games (read a sample chapter of one of his books here). Overall this was a perfect holiday read.
One quibble I had was that I didn't really believe in the version of the 80's that the book celebrates. Everything seemed monochromatic and limited. In my 80's we might have secretly liked Rush but most of the other music mentioned in the book is rubbish.
I mention this mostly because I found 1979 in Among Others by Jo Walton to be entirely convincing. This beautifully written book has already won the British Fantasy award for best novel, the Hugo and the Nebula and deserves them all. There is a nice interview with Jo Walton in the Guardian but I recommend you read Among Others before you read that. I was pleased to agree with Mori (the protagonist) that in 1979 I found the cover of Glory Road to be embarrassing.
So what didn't I believe in Among Others? The only thing was when Mori comes across the Stephen Donaldson book with the famous blurb from The Washington Post; 'Comparable to Tolkien at his best...' and knows that as the implication cannot be true she will ignore the book. I wish I had done similarly.
So... Ready Player One is good but Among Others is great.