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?
AN EDITOR'S PICK
You know, this book has thousands of glowing reviews and has topped so many nerd and geek reading lists that I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to get to this book.
Is this a great book? Sure. Does it deserve all of the praise it’s gotten? Yes and no. I gave it 4 stars because it entertained me and kept me reading when I generally don’t have time for pleasure reading.
So let’s get into some flaws before I get too far. I understand that the author has a VERY detailed backstory for his Willy Wonka, and that’s great. But the story has a very stop and go mentality that makes it somewhat difficult to get into the story early on. There are some major info dumps and some info that is repeated multiple times in the first few chapters. I wouldn’t mention it, except for the fact the beginning of the book seems to hold more backstory than actual story.
Also, I get it, dude. You love the eighties. But the eighties weren’t that awesome. Sure I enjoy occasional games of Pac-Man and Galaga. Hell, I even downloaded all the old Intellivision games I used to play as a kid. I still listen to 80s music and I still dig D&D. But it seemed a lot like the majority of this book was banking on nostalgia to carry it through some of its weaker moments, which it kind of did.
Eighties worship aside, I did really enjoy this book. But there were times I had to roll my eyes at the book. Yes, I physically rolled my eyes at a friggin paperback. The sheer amount of fan service in some areas is a tad excessive. From the inclusion of a Firefly class ship to the multitude of Hitchhiker references. If you put a character on the 42nd floor once, it’s a subtle nod to the Guide. If you do it more, it’s more of a cry for help. Look! 42! Get it?! I like nerd stuff!
Wow, that’s a lot of negative stuff to say for a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. And I did enjoy it. The tech seemed interesting and far-fetched enough to seem futuristic, but still feasible enough to be real world. The real world outside from OASIS felt a bit like Idiocracy in some respects, especially the motorhome stacks. OASIS felt very reminiscent of the online worlds I’ve visited, and I’ve seen my fair share. And a couple of scenes even reminded me of an Xbox Kinect game I’d played briefly.
But would I recommend the book? If you happen to be a nerd, geek, dork, or other social outcast, or if you still suffer from occasional bouts of eighties induced nostalgia, or if you own a Delorean, yes, you should read this book. I’d recommend this to all gamers and even with all the hype, it’s worth a read.