It’s the year 2044 and the real world is in shambles. Everyone chooses to escape the horrors of reality by logging into the OASIS – a virtual reality created by multibillionaire James Halliday. In the OASIS, players are able to shed their real life identity and become whoever they want. When James Halliday passes away, there is much speculation as to who will inherit his worth, as he has no friends or living relatives. Before his death Halliday created his last and final game – a treasure hunt leading to an Easter Egg. Whoever discovers this egg will get Halliday’s fortune and become the owner of the OASIS.
Wade Watts spends all of his time escaping in the OASIS, even attending school in the virtual reality. When he finds out about Halliday’s game he instantly becomes a gunter – the name given to all those who dedicate their life to hunting Halliday’s egg. When Wade is the first person to find the first hidden key, his life changes forever. His name at the top of the scoreboard makes him famous and one of the Sixers most wanted. The Sixers are a corporation intent on being the first to find Halliday’s egg and completely changing the OASIS.
Holy pop culture references, Batman! John Hughes, Doctor Who, The Amazing Spiderman, Family Ties, Star Wars. Those are just a few of the many, many references in this book. I don’t care if sometimes things were a bit ridiculous in this book, it was so much fun!
There was a part of me that kept think, “Wow, what a sad place the world turned out to be. Everyone living in a virtual reality.” However, the underlying message of the novel is that trying to escape the real world is no way to live your life. So I was ultimately able to get over those thoughts and enjoy the book for what it is – the ultimate geek candy. Seeing as I was only 4 when the 80s ended, I didn’t get all of the references. Also, I am not much of a gamer (I’ll play the occasional game of Wii and was the master of Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis when I was younger, but that’s it). I am sure that if I knew more of my 80s and was more of a gamer, I would have enjoyed this book even more.
I was sad to find out that Count Chocula (one of the best cereals ever) would not be around by 2044. But Wikipedia and YouTube seem to make it that far, so that’s something. Aside from those tidbits and some brief mentions of what the world is like, Cline does not go into too much detail about the struggles of the world in 2044. And I was glad of that. That was not the basis of the book so it did not need to be addressed that much. This isn’t supposed to be some serious exploration into the future. This is pure, unadulterated fun.
Final Verdict: This book was just so much fun. I gave it a 4-star rating on Goodreads.