It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
HIS: The story follows the journey of Wade Watts and his digital avatar Parzival as he and his friends try to find a hidden prize within the online world of OASIS. The characters are mini-detectives as they research and decipher each riddle to find the hidden keys and eventual grand prize. The book heavily references 1980s music, movies, video games, and pop culture as the characters unlock the secret clues hidden by the game's creator James Halliday, a self-admitted 80's geek. The story has a sense of urgency as the characters are racing against an evil conglomerate that hopes to reach the end first and claim the prize for itself.
As someone born in the 80s, but not necessarily a "child of the 80s," I enjoyed this book very much. I loved all the references to classic Atari and Coin-op video games and pen and paper D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) adventures, which are the forefathers of today's massive video game industry. I easily related to the books protagonist Wade Watts, who spends more of his day inside a fictional digital world, the OASIS, than in the real world, and his experiences with friendship, family, and love. The book explores the themes of obsession and gaming addiction and for book's young male readers, it's a warning against the pitfalls of embracing the digital world over the real world.
As a fellow video game and movie geek, I give the book 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend reading the book first before seeing the movie, which wasn't bad either.
Read by Wil Wheaten
Duration: 15 hours 40 minutes
HERS: My husband was enamored with this book. His enthusiasm towards the book piqued my curiosity to read it. I hesitated reading it at first because I am not a gamer. Video games bore me and I felt that I would not connect with the story or characters. However, connecting with my husband and encouraging his new found of reading was more important to me, so I decided to go with the audiobook instead. And I am so glad I did!
So much was happening in this book that reading the physical copy would have had me giving up right away. The story did start off a little slow for me but it quickly picked up once Wade got to the first gate. And boy, there was so much action! I didn't care much when the story went into detail about the old video games but I did love listening to the references to 70s and 80s pop culture. Though I was born in the 80s and was a 90s kid, my mom raised me to appreciate the 80s. So I quickly connected with all the book's movie and music references.
As much as I enjoyed the story line and the action, I do have to admit that teenage angst was not my thing. It's actually a pet peeve of mine (the main reason why I don't read too much YA books). Wade's obsession with the character Artemis was a little too much for me. I mean, I understood why he was enamored and why he was obsessed but it did get a little annoying. Other than that, I did enjoy the rest of the book.
Now the narrator...this book was read by Wil Wheaton, the actor. He did a fantastic job portraying the main character, Wade, and the others. It was obvious he enjoyed this book because his excitement was completely obvious with the way he read the story. He embodied all of the characters, had great pacing, and was full of energy. He made listening to this book a wonderful adventure.
As a whole, this was a wonderful production. I enjoyed the story and the nostalgia aspect of it. I also loved the reader, which he made me appreciate the book more. My drawbacks would be the teenage angst and the in depth details to video games, but that's my personal dislikes. I rate this 4 stars.