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"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.But 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."
I admit that I was skeptical of purchasing this book. I had read "Snowcrash" a few years ago, and many people had said that the two books were similar in nature. Specifically that almost the entirety of the novel took place in a virtual reality. In both works, the protagonist is a young and poor kid who does just enough in real life to survive in attempt to live in the VR world. "Snowcrash" was hard for me to identify with and follow, so I wasn't sure how I would like this one.
Initially it was hard to identify with the work because I have never been much of a gamer. Playing video games has been an activity that I enjoy only when there is absolutely nothing else to do. I do realize that I grew up and still currently live in rural America where I can enjoy the outdoors. Considering that the majority of the plot revolved around video games, I was worried if I could follow it.
But what hooked me, like many others, was the fixation on the 1980s and how the pop-culture of the era defined the plot. Though I was a young child, much of this book reminded me of my childhood, so it was easy to identify with the plot's twists and turns, which were dictated by this decade, and not solely by video games.
After a few chapters that were fairly slow, the book picked up a break-neck pace following the search for the fabled treasure.
I won't go into the plot, but despite not having any major hooks, the story kept me fixated to the very end, which was a pretty predictable yet satisfying one. There were some aspects of the plot I thought were tacky or loose. Overall, it was a solid plot.
I read this book in 4 days and would have read it faster if I could.
I have very high praise for this book. Though I have nothing in common with the protagonist, his plight is well laid out and understandable. His character, as well as most of the others, are well developed yet predictable. He was portrayed as loyal, resourceful, and very human. Unlike many works, I could picture him and know his reactions before he actually did them because I became very understanding of Wade.
Despite being a story fixated on finding a treasure inside a VR world with nothing but 70s and 80s knowledge, the book shared some very interesting life lessons and also painted a very real picture of the future of the human condition. I think I found that to be the most impressive aspect of this book. That is, it taught it's readers a lesson about what our future could be like and why we should try and avoid it...but without beating us over the head with it. It was very subtle, yet very effective.
I have to say that it is one of the best pieces I have read.
4.5 out of 5 Stars.