Wade Watts is just your average kind of guy, living in his aunt's trailer, trying to get through the last months of high school, playing video games, and trying to solve a multi-billion dollar puzzle. Yup. Billion with a b.
See, it's 2044 and video game designer James Halliday has just passed away without an heir. He's left a video will for the entire world, promising his fortune to whomever can find the "Easter egg" he's hidden within the OASIS, a virtual reality video game he created that everyone is addicted to. In order to find the "egg," egg hunters, or gunters, as they come to be called, must solve riddles and challenges that Halliday designed around his favorite things, and they all center around the 80s.
Wade knows he's got this. He's watched War Games something like 32 times. He can sing lyrics to obscure 80s hits. His mind is overloaded with video game history and trivia. This should be a piece of cake. But things get complicated, as they always do, when a multi-national conglomeration finds a loophole in the will and starts tempting other brilliant minds to play as a team to solve the riddles. Wade is determined that these guys will not win at any cost.
What a fun book! I don't remember a lot about 80s pop culture, but I had a blast recognizing all the little tidbits Cline worked into this novel. The world of the OASIS was fully realized and I could see the appeal.
My one complaint with the book is the world-building though. While I did enjoy it for the most part, I felt that Cline got a little too involved in it and that led to some unnecessary info dumps. There would be a few pages in a row of a description or history of the OASIS that didn't serve any purpose I could see. Still, it was fun, and the author has obviously spent a huge amount of time figuring out how his virtual world was going to work.
For all his obvious love of the OASIS, I felt like there was a little warning about the seduction of such an absolute escape from reality. Maybe I'm projecting my own feelings, but I really think it's in there.
Wade, or Parzival as his avatar is called in the OASIS, is a gutsy, smart guy who's starting from next to nothing, and I enjoyed him immensely! But I really loved Art3mis. She's the only girl who is seriously in the running to win this contest, and she does not pull any punches. She comes across as super-intelligent and a little insecure at the same time. She is ultra-cool and a celebrity in the OASIS and the blogosphere. She's sort of a role model who isn't too perfect to relate to. And Aech! I can't say much about Aech except that he's such a loyal smartass that it's impossible not to love him. I was blown away by the direction his story took!
I've been practically shoving this book at my husband, who does know a lot of 80s trivia, and demanding that he read it. So consider this my virtual shove at you. Just read it.
Read an excerpt.
I picked this up after reading a review at Alison's Book Marks.
Find author Ernest Cline on his website, his blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
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