Synopsis: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
Review: 5/5 stars
THIS. WAS. SO. FREAKING. COOL.
Okay. Okay okay okay. So. This book, I would say, is the following mix: video games + ’80s culture + sci-fi + semi-dystopia + general nerdiness. Excluding the latter, I am not interested in any of those things.
BUT DAMN IF I DIDN’T LOVE THIS BOOK.
Okay. I’m sorry. I’m trying to calm myself down enough to write a review.
Was this book perfect? No. Sometimes it was dumb, or confusing, or slow, or overly complex, or not complex enough. But it still deserves five stars. MORE THAN FIVE STARS. Immediately after finishing this review, I’ll be penning a handwritten letter to Goodreads to ask for a sixth star. Like a super-like, or what I imagine a super-like is as someone who doesn’t use Tinder and never will. I’M GETTING VERY DISTRACTED.
So in this book, it’s, like, fifty years in the future, or something. The world has gone to utter sh*t (not hard to believe, eh?) and in order to cope, the majority of people immerse themselves in a virtual-reality experience called the OASIS. It was invented by this guy, James Halliday, who just up and DIED and left the sickest technological scavenger hunt ever thought of behind. And the winner? Gets the company and TWO HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS. It’s like the darkest, most futuristic version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Though unfortunately fewer delicious descriptions of food. But still, I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT. I’ll try to cool it on the caps lock.
So…y’all know I love a good setting, and this one is just amazing. There’s something about immersive video games as a setting that I just am obsessed with. I read some book in middle school that was kind of similar and it was SO GREAT. For someone who doesn’t game at all I am very into reading about it.
God, I wish I didn’t have to leave this worldddddd. Give me 11 more books in it. Wait, the author has another book, right?! IS IT SIMILAR?!!! Oh man. Okay. Sorry, I’m still just very hype.
There was a lotttt of worldbuilding. Like, a LOT a lot. Pages and pages of it at a time. And the most information-heavy passages you can imagine. I didn’t mind it, because I was so flipping fascinated by this book that, if given some sort of magical opportunity, I would have moved into it in a hot Texas minute, but still. It’s not exactly seamless.
So that could kind of slow down the plot a little, but again, I NEVER MINDED ONCE. It’s a little hard to settle in, because the book will be goddamn molasses for like 50 pages and then SUDDENLY BREAKNECK SPEED EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING PEOPLE COULD DIE YOU’D BETTER READ AS FAST AS YOUR EYES CAN SKITTER ACROSS THIS TEXT BABY and then that’d be over in a dozen pages and it’d be moreeee slownesssss. But I’d read Cline’s grocery lists if they were set in the OASIS, so IT’S ALL SUNSHINE OVER HERE.
In terms of characters, we have a handful of main ones. I really, really, really, super-love our narrator, Wade. He’s wicked smart and super nerdy and knows so much about everything. I would like to curl up inside of his head for forever, please and thanks. (Especially since his life is so goddamn interesting.)
I do have some complaints, though. It’s still me.
For example, Wade is the only character I really feel any sort of way about. Except for Halliday, who I love, but he doesn’t count. He’s dead. There’s also Aech (who is fine), Daito and Shoto, I think (who are also fine), and Art3mis, who sucks, but in a semi-harmless way.
Well, except for one thing. Yes, folks, you may have guessed it: This book includes a forced, uncomfortable, unnecessary, boring ROMANCE. (Boooooo! We hate you, unnecessary romance! shouts the crowd.)
This totally deducted from my enjoyment of the book – not enough to make me not love it, obviously, but significantly still – and I just was so MAD. Why did that have to be included? We get it, nerds deserve love too. Obviously. But does the odyssey of losing his V-card need to play such a big role in Wade’s story, when everything else going on is so goddamn interesting? Ugh. So vanilla, when everything about this book was the total opposite of that. Not chocolate, though. The analogy wouldn’t track, since vanilla > chocolate.
Anyway. What else, what else…Oh yeah. One last thing. The ending lowkey sucked in comparison to the rest of the book. It was kind of choppy and rushed. A lot of loose ends were left, IMO. It makes sense, kinda, since there were SO many ends to be tied, but still. It didn’t feel concluded. I have no sense of what happened to the characters or the world.
Also, I expected more of a Moral. Like, an Aesop’s-fables type. Because this book follows a dystopian society attempting to escape from the repercussions of, well, our irresponsible actions through a video game. IMO again, but that doesn’t feel like the sickest possible solution. A few times characters will point out that the OASIS isn’t ~really life~, but no real impact is made by the end. I don’t know. I expected more.
BUT I STILL ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK. No book can be perfect, and this wasn’t, but I loved it so much. I miss reading it already.
Bottom line: I don’t care WHO you are, this book is sosososo fun and great and you should read it right now. Now, I say!