Publication Date: August 16, 2011
In 2044, the real world is much worse than anyone could have imagined. Like most other people, Wade Watts spends his days hooked into the OASIS - a virtual reality world that allows you to be whoever you want.
Then one day, an announcement from James Halliday, creator of the OASIS, sets everyone into a frenzy. He has died and left everything to the one person who can find all the easter eggs he's hidden in the OASIS and complete the quest. Now, Wade knows his purpose.
Date Read: February 12, 2018
I finally picked this up after my roommate, Maggie, urged me to read it. The movie is coming out and there's been a lot of hype around this for years.
One of the first things that I realized about my experience in reading this book was that I never felt like I had an urge to pick it up and start reading, but every time I did, I was able to keep reading for ages. It was weird because I don't think I've ever experienced that before, and I didn't really know what it meant about my level of enjoyment with this book.
As someone who definitely wasn't born and raised in the 80s, much less America in the 80s, I found it hard to get some of the references. A lot of the time, I felt like my not understanding all the old pop culture references meant that I wasn't the right kind of reader for the book. I didn't always get why something was important, how it related, or why it was such a big deal. At several points in the book, it just felt like me not getting it meant that I wasn't smart enough to truly understand everything that Ernest Cline put into the book.
While I'm not a gamer, I can appreciate some things about video games, like game play graphics, narrative, and the goal-oriented missions. The most intense video game I've ever played was Left 4 Dead 2 and I was never really good at that. The only thing I still play consistently is the Sims 4 (especially now that the Cats & Dogs expansion has been released). This book did a good job of helping me to understand the idea behind a fully immersive VR (virtual reality) video game, but at times, it geeked out too much with explanations that I didn't care about. Had I been a gamer, I think I would have a greater appreciation for all the details that Cline added to this book.
The plot was interesting enough - one giant quest to get to the end of the game. It wasn't anything particularly special, but I did think that some of the references and how they came together were really clever. Getting to see how the different players worked toward a common goal made the plot more interesting, especially once the competition really got started and things became really exciting.
There was a romantic plot in the book, but I didn't really think that it was necessary. The story could have done without the romance, and at times, it was one of the more frustrating elements of the book. If anything, it felt more like it was trying to prove that even the nerdiest of guys could find someone who was attracted to them. I just wanted something more out of the romance than what it was.
The ending left me wanting more, especially since the quest of the game builds to such an important thing. For something that had billions of dollars at stake, I felt like the ending didn't necessarily do the plot justice.
I think I can say with decent confidence that I was able to enjoy the book without completely understanding every little detail. I got what was important and enjoyed what I understood. Sure, there are things that I wish were different, but considering how much this is out of my comfort zone, I thought it was a pretty good book.
I was not a fan of Wade in the slightest. He annoyed me to no end with how pretentious he was with his 80s pop culture knowledge. Yes, he was really knowledgeable and that helped him, but he didn't have to be such a pretentious jerk about it. The "Chosen One" trope really didn't work in his favor. Also, his obsessive crush on Art3mis really pissed me off and made me incredible uncomfortable.
I really enjoyed Aech's character. There was something really interesting about him that had me wanting to see more of him all the time. Not only was he really skilled as a gamer and fighter, but he also was far more likable than Wade.
Art3mis was a welcomed character in a world where there are so many guys trying to compete to find Halliday's treasure. As a female gamer, her skills and intellect really stood out far above the rest of the gamers. However, I felt like Cline created her for the purpose of saying that he included a female gamer and made sure that she was on par with the boys. I really would like to see this story from her perspective because I think that it could be so much more interesting.
Originally, I gave it a 4-star rating in 2018. However, Maggie changed her rating last week and we briefly talked about how much I disliked the book. Thinking of that reminded me of how many complaints I have whenever I talk about this book, and that led me to lower the rating to 2 stars. If you're looking for a better book that also deals with VR, I'd recommend Warcross by Marie Lu instead.
I think it's a decent book and I'd recommend it whether or not you liked video games, but be wary that there might be references that go over your head or details that you really don't care about.