3.75 Stars (and I hope ya’ll get why). Wade (a/k/a avatar name Parzival) lives on an Earth that has been depleted of all natural resources. Like most people, Wade has spent most of his life escaping his impoverished reality by spending as much time as possible in the virtual utopia that is OASIS. Five years ago the creator of OASIS passed away – leaving no heirs, but a series of clues that would unlock his fortune to the first one who could solve all of the puzzles. Wade has become a full-time gunter, trying desperately to win the competition in hopes of giving himself a life he could never (even in virtual reality) dream of.
I was REEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLY looking forward to this. High expectations probably resulted in more disappointment than had I known NOTHING before starting, so here are the negatives. 1. Information overload. Cline explains EVERY. SINGLE. MOVE. SOMEONE. MAKES. IN. DETAIL. which made for some lag time while reading. Seriously, at times it felt like I was reading the instructions to an actual quest. (On the other hand, this might not have been a complaint at all if I had listened to the audio version). 2. I also do not need to read the stereo instructions of how things like an OASIS visor or haptic suit works. Assume that people have one iota of imagination left in their pea brains and can figure out the basics of how virtual reality operates. 3. Know your audience, Cline. The people who are fawning all over this book are übergeeks and superfans. The synopsis explains, quite clearly, that Halliday was obsessed with everything 80s – assume those who are picking up this book are too. 4. My final complaint is in addition to #2. How can you write a novel packed with ultra-80s trivia and not have Laslo Hollyfeld appear somewhere in the book ; )
Luckily the good outweigh the bad. The plot is totally unique. The characters are well-developed and likeable. Although I had complaints as listed above, it was still a fairly quick read and not one that I wanted to put back on the shelf at any time. Cline truly knows his 80s pop-culture like the back of his hand and it doesn’t matter if gaming isn’t your thing. He’ll throw in enough television, movie and music nerdbits to satisfy everyone.