Guys… let me just start by saying this book was not perfect. I just need to make that clear from the start because I’m about to start GUSHING over it anyway. Through its flaws, that I will adress in a minute, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I kept smiling, wanting to read faster, getting really stressed out near the end, having vivid mental images of the OASIS in my head, wishing I could experience it myself… now it’s over and I want more. This book has a lot of good reviews so I think anyone could enjoy it, but it was especially fun for me and, I’m guessing, for anyone who has ever played a MMORPG because I kind of miss it sometimes and the book gave me so many memories of my past gaming fanatic self. Obviously my experience didnt include the 3D virtual reality aspect but still, the conversations you have with other players, the kind of relationship or friendship you start building with them sometimes, party quests, bosses, leveling up your avatar and all other details still rang a bell for me.
Let’s just start with the 2 things I enjoyed less: the main thing you hear about this book is the ton of 80’s cultural references and I somehow had the notion I would actually recognize, them but as it turns out, my knowledge doesn’t really go back that far (I was 2 months old when the 80’s ended) so while it is true that there was a buttload of 80’s movies, games and songs referenced throughout the novel (like, way more than I anticipated) I didnt know most of them, so that was kind of disappointing, or just not as interesting as I expected. But that’s not really the author’s fault if I’m too young to get them. I could still appreciate de sheer quantity of them, which made me realize just how extensive Cline’s knowledge and love of that decade was. Still, only someone who grew up during those years and has personal memories of watching/playing/listening to the various titles mentioned would really get it. Moving on.
The other thing was that it seemed way too easy for Wade to hack his way into the various computer systems, especially near his indenture period, or regarding his ”full proof” appartment. I mean, right from the beginning, the fact that he’s very poor and half homeless, but has a few back up computers that ”he made from scraps” is like, whoa, is this guy a genius or something? And then he kept saying how he watched hundreds and hundreds of movies, enough times each to learned every line by heart, played, completed and mastered hundreds of videogames, listened to complete discographies… in basically a span of maybe what, 10 years? With the time spent in school and sleeping, it seems quite unlikely, but heh it didn’t bother me that much I just thought it was pushing it a bit far.
And then, changing his identity through gouvernment websites? Adding a super thick special security vault-type door, strengthening his walls with bulletproof metal panels and all that without never actually getting out of it? Then getting into the biggest and most powerful high-security company of America to just easily get access, deactivate or control every devices he wishes? I mean, is there anything he CAN’t do? I understand that the technology is far more advanced in the book than it is today (even though it’s still only 30 years from now) but I mean, the more advanced the technology, the more advanced the protection and security level, right? Sometimes I just thought, well that was way easier than it should have been. Surely there is a limit to what a 18 year old who pretty much doesnt have a life outside a virtual game can accomplish.
For those 2 reasons, I can’t give the book a full 5 stars, but other than that, IT WAS AMAZEBALLS! Any geek will tell you, this book is a gem. I had so much fun while reading it. When I enjoy a book, I realize it at the end, thinking back to what I have read to give it a rating. But this was a totally immersive experience. I was legit having fun from the start, and that’s why I paced myself and took over a week to read it. I didn’t want it to end too quickly but now it’s over and I’m sad.
Or I WAS sad before I found out it’s getting turned into a movie! Still no director or actors announed, but they’re working on the screenplay. I can easily see it become another Ender’s Game (which was a total fail according to me) but hey, I’ll take the chance. If done right, it’d be sooo great. Here is a 13 minute video where Ernest Cline is being interviewed by a fellow geek and talks a bit about the plot, his view on technology or its possible future, and the movie adaptation process.
Lastly, I learned that his second science-fiction novel, titled ARMADA, is coming out in July of this year and it sounds just as awesome. Here is the Goodreads link to that.
I realized I wrote a whole lot about stuff that bothered me and not much about the good stuff, which is a weird thing to do when you enjoy a book so much, but I just don’t know how to say it. I think I liked it for personal reasons to me that maybe wouldn’t apply to you, so all I can say is that I 100% recommend it and will probably buy copies for my friends. 4.5 stars!