Length: 372 pages
Publisher: Random House Audio
Part quest, part romance, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
Here’s what I thought:
This is a book that I probably would never have picked up on my own, and that would have been a shame, because I enjoyed it so, so much. Luckily I have my friendly fellow book bloggers to thank for writing reviews that highlight books I might otherwise miss, and I read so many positive reviews of this one that I knew I had to check it out.
There’s not much I can say about the storyline of the book that isn’t covered by the summary above. This is very much a plot-driven book, and as such it is pretty much action-packed from beginning to end, with the exception of all the detail-filled tangents into 80’s pop culture. I can see where that might be less than interesting for someone who a. never lived through the 80’s and therefore wouldn’t get all the references or b. never experienced the 80’s (and beyond) subculture that is the gamer community. Having grown up in the 80’s with gamer brothers, I loved all the geeky bits.
Listening to this book was pure fun from start to finish. I thought there were some touching moments, especially towards the end when Wade finally meets some of his online buddies in person, but mostly it’s all about the game. This is a book that begs to be made into a movie–surely someone is already on that.
If there’s a ‘message’ to the book, it’s a pretty simple one, and appropriately it’s expressed by OASIS creator James Halliday:
As terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.
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