From Goodreads.com: 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?
Why I Chose It: A friend recommended it to me!
Have you ever noticed that it’s harder to blog about the books that you love than it is for the books that you didn’t? I don’t actually know how to write this review because I know if I’m not careful I’m going to fangirl all over the place. I just want to rant about all the wonderful things and scream and jump up and down and throw the book in your face so that you’ll read it. Because, oh my gosh, gasp, sigh, it was…perfect.
I think I’m really attracted to this book because Cline nailed what it is to be a video game player, especially MMOs, and how people get attached to this alternative world. The OASIS has become daily lives for these people – they go to school, they work, they shop, they relax all within the platform. They have to stop really only to eat and sleep. Cline really explores what this daily live is like for Wade – how happy he is within the OASIS, how unhappy he is in real life. But what gets me is Cline’s careful articulation of what it is to have friends in OASIS. Wade has friends that he hangs out with and jokes around with, and yes, confides with. But at the same time they don’t really know who Wade is. They’re friends with his avatar, and only know what he chooses to tell them. There is a feeling of loneliness, but also of relief, because even if online friends are only half friends, at least Wade has them. I absolutely loved this character. He has just the right mix of self-consciousness, confidence, intelligence, honesty and doubts. He’s one of the realest characters I’ve read in a really long time.
As for the amount of information the Cline has included in the book – holy crap. The competitors are searching for clues within pop culture, so they’ve practically memorized this time period. It seems like every video game, book, movie, band, etc from the 80’s has been mentioned in this book. There was so much stuff that I had never even heard of that I literally wanted to just start making a list of everything mentioned so that I could go look it up to play it/watch it/read it. It got to the point that when something was mentioned that I knew, I wanted to be like, “Ooh I know that one!!” But it was perfect. If there really was a fortune and if there really were clues hidden within pop culture, people really would research and memorize everything they could. Wade was a walking encyclopedia, but I also loved that he admitted his downfalls. He didn’t have everything memorized (though he could look most things up pretty fast!) But he also encountered video games that he hadn’t played in a long time, movies he’d only watched once, etc. I thought it was pretty realistic that he knew some stuff by heart, and other stuff only in passing.
Then we have the search for the fortune itself. Competitors can only find it through puzzles that Halliday left behind. These were awesome. There were riddles and abstract puzzles that had to be decyphered. There were video games that had to be played to perfection. Movies that had to be recited line by line. There were also a ton of different stages that Wade had to go through. I thought they were not only creative, that they were very entertaining to read about. It was like the ultimate adventure game, but in a novel.
Finally, not only is all of this going on in the game, but Cline has also focused on what’s going on to Wade – the real Wade, in the real world. This is an equally interesting world in which there is also a ton of action – because once he becomes famous in OASIS, people start hunting for him in reality. Cline balances both worlds perfectly, and I was definitely engaged in both of them.
So. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I thought this book was amazing. Excellent writing, excellent concept, excellent characters. It is literally the best book I’ve read in a really really long time. I can’t wait to read it again!
Rating: 5 / 5
P.S. Ernest Cline also wrote the movie “Fanboys,” and that was also perfection. That is all.