Genre: post-apocalyptic science fiction thriller
Length: 372 pages
Setting: a near future Earth
Interest: It’s been on my ready list so long I forgot why I put it on in the first place. I do hear good things about it geek circles.
Summary: The world’s economies are stagnating as people try to deal with the double whammy of climate change and lack of fossil fuels. Unemployment is rampant and most people escape their lackluster lives by logging on to OASIS, a virtual world. Wade is the lowest of the low in real life, but online he’s a gunter. Gunters are searching for the egg James Halliday (the OASIS creator) hid that will grant the finder control of Halliday’s fortune and OASIS. Wade manages to find and acquire the first key, and a group of other solo gunters also get the key shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, hot on their trail are IOI Sixers, who are trying to find the egg first in order to monetize OASIS to the hilt. The Sixers cheat, pooling vast resources to maximize their changes of success. Even so, Wade and the other non-Sixers usually make it to the next step first, with some contact between the solo gunters online. Wade is the ultimate winner.
Final thoughts: This was a fun book. I wasn’t huge into D&D or video games when I was a kid in the 80s (both are big parts of the contest) and yet I still enjoyed the story. There were the riddles to solve, and who could do the best at the competitions, which was exciting. Plus, there was the evil corporation trying to take over something wonderful and accessible to everyone with the poor but brilliant kid facing off, against horrible odds. Your typical quest book, but with quite a unique and highly enjoyable setting. Lots of inside jokes to geek culture. (My favorite was that Will Wheaton and Cory Doctorow were President and Vice President of OASIS). Cline even managed to squeeze in some commentary on race since one of the main characters turned out to have chosen a white male avatar purely for the social benefits of fitting the “norm” (which she didn’t in real life).
I’ll be curious to see how well this book holds up over time, since right now it’s appealing to people who lived through the 80s. It’s really not a kids book (there are some adult scenes, but nothing too horrible), but eventually the kids will grow into the book and I wonder if they’ll appreciate it as much without the cultural background.
Title comes from: It’s what you saw when you logged on to OASIS and referenced video games.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 11/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and an R in my Title Alphabet Challenge
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