Publisher: Crown (August 16, 2011)
Format: Kindle Edition
Plot: Okay so I’m not going to lie, I don’t know if Judith does these herself or gets them online but I’m doing mine myself and…it’s so not going to be as professional. Deal with it biatches. So there’s this guy Wade who lives in Oklahoma City in the year 2045. In the future we’re still in this recession which has gotten so bad that there’s a multi-year long waiting list to work at the local fast food joint and scores of people now live in trailer parks that are “stacked” one on top of another, up to 25 high (I immediately pictured the tenement apartments in The Alienist). Wade lives in one such stack. But who cares because while that might be his real life it is not his reality – which is as the avatar “Parzival” in the OASIS gaming system. OASIS is the lifeblood of the future, it is how you go to school, keep a job, earn money, and interact with people.
The story beings when the creator of OASIS passes away and broadcasts a message that he has left an Easter egg somewhere within OASIS. The first person who finds the egg will inherit Halliday’s fortune “currently valued in excess of two hundred and forty billion dollars”. So our hero Wade sets out to do this. Of course it is not easy, and an insane amount of 1980s trivia knowledge must be absorbed and regurgitated before the struggle is finished. Oh, and there’s a little bit of romantical stuff.
Review: I’ve got to admit I finished this yesterday and I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. While I LOVED all the movie references (especially the ones that weren’t directly mentioned so you have to catch them yourself) the video game stuff sometimes bored me to tears. If I’ve ever felt completely bi-polar about a book then this is it. One second I would have punched you in the face for trying to take me away, and then 10 minutes later I was falling asleep. But I did always know that something amazing was around the bend.
One thing I really have to give credit to the author for is his amazing descriptions of the video games. It didn’t matter if I knew a game (Pac Man) or not (almost everything else), I really understood the geography and features of the games. I even found myself getting SO excited when I figured out the first key before Wade (ha! I’m awesome!) and yelled to my Kindle in order to help him. Which obviously worked since he soon after figured
it out himself. (Speaking of yelling to books – Wade names his planet “Falcor” and
yet there’s not a single mention of The Neverending Story? Shame on you Mr. Author!)
In the end I think I’m glad I read the book but wouldn’t Indian Rug burn someone in order to force them to read it also. Too many video games, too little romance, and a little too much boredom. When it was good it was amazing but when it was bad I started thinking of the other books I had pushed aside in order read this.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: Or hero, in this case. Ah Wade. As Parzival I kinda love you. You’re a total geek and not ashamed of it, you put your heart on the line, you’re a brave warrior who can formulate plans and fight against potential tyranny. But as Wade you’re not completely doing it for me. I’m sorry I just don’t have the ability to separate your avatar from your actual body sitting in an apartment for 6 months straight. I am SO glad you told us you bathe regularly (an honest to God concern of mine whenever I read future fics) and your diatribe on masturbation is quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve read in years. Working in your favor: anyone who has Monty Python’s Holy Grail memorized better than I do is automatically okay in my mind. So I’m going for a 7 on this one.
How much did I like the love interest: Eh. It’s so hard to judge a love interest when the vast majority of the time they’re just avatars and who knows the truth. But Wade’s open affection for Art3mis was constant, and true, throughout the whole book. It’s what we all hope online dating will be: create a character like yourself but slightly better, pour your actual personality inside and then pray that when you meet in person love truly is about two souls connecting despite physical appearances. I give it an 8.
How believable is the plot: I don’t know that this should really count because of the whole 2045 thing but I’m going with a 10. It is COMPLETELY believable to me that in the future people will be so eager to escape the drudgery of life that they spend the vast majority of their lives living within their computer selves. While I hope that the future actually brings about hoverboards and flying Deloreans (BttF2 promised me this within the next few years!) if the odds are not in my favor I think we can all see this coming about.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: I’ll be the first to admit that unless it’s a glaring problem I don’t notice these issues but I really saw nothing. The pacing was a bit janxy at times but I think that was more due to my own knowledge gaps than a fault of the author. Entonces: 10
How much did I want to keep reading: 8. As I already stated I was pretty all over the place with this one. I loved all the 80s stuff – especially the movies – but a lot of the video game detailing was a bit too much for me. Necessary to the plot: yes. Fun for me: no. However I also don’t think the book could have been the same without that level of detail and I felt like you were actually reading a book written by creator of OASIS, a man who loved the 80s so much that he fired employees for not being able to recite movie lines. Definitely a book unlike anything else I’ve ever read, which is often rare in YA fiction.
Glasses of wine I drank while reading: This one is only for Ellen reviews because when a book pisses me off, or gets ridiculous, I tend to drink more. I have to admit that since I started reading in the afternoon I wasn’t drinking at all. I did take a dinner break and had a glass of wine but then got back in the book and literally didn’t pour another. Amazing. So: 1. (You think this sounds normal now, wait until my next review. My poor liver.)
Final Score: I’m giving this book an 8. Such an amazingly original idea, with such incredible attention to detail, deserves nothing less. Is it completely my cup of wine (f the tea) – no. But sometimes you need to try a new vintage a few times in order for your palate to mature and savor the offering. This is definitely a book I plan to re-read in the future, I can’t wait to see if it holds up as well.