In a bleak near future, which doesn't seem all that implausible from the way things are going these days, large parts of the population escape the misery of everyday existence by plugging into this thing called OASIS that is part Second Life and part MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game). OASIS is a full immersion simulated world where people go to recreate themselves, have adventures, goto school, make a living; or to sum it up to virtually live. The creator of this world (which costs only a one-time fee of twenty five cents to enter) was an eccentric programmer who amassed a huge fortune and left the entire fortune to the first person who is able to solve game within the virtual world, or in gamer-speak to find the easter egg. He leaves some cryptic lines to help people on their way and the rest is up to anyone who wants to play to solve. At first everyone in the world tries to solve the game, but after years pass and no one makes any progress interest in the game dwindles till there are just a small group of hacker-type gamers and a big evil corporation looking to take control of OASIS and make it more profitable. Five years or so after the game was first announced a high school student becomes the first person to clear the first objective and the public gets more interested in the game than people give a shit about American Idol (or whatever would be like that these days, do people still watch that nonsense?)
That's the basic set up for the novel, I have no idea why I decided to give one, you probably could have just read the info about the book and learned all of that. Maybe I just wanted to put something that felt objective into the review before I started gushing about how fucking awesome the book was. Or maybe I just feel really uncomfortable writing positive reviews, which is sort of the same as the other reason. This book is really fucking awesome, seriously.
I'm not sure if it really is a great book but it's certainly a lot of fun. I'd say it's almost as fun as the first Hunger Games novel, and I even described it to Karen as being a really good YA book but for adults, but not just any adults, stunted adults who are around my age. It's a geek-tastic adventure tribute to the 1980's, but not the Bret Easton Ellis 80's, but the geeky movies and video games and music side of that decade. This is the part that makes me think that teens today might not get as much enjoyment out of this novel, it comes with a pretty hefty amount of pop-culture references that I'm not exactly sure if someone who didn't grow up in the time period would get much enjoyment out of. But even without getting all the references there is still a great adventure story populated by idealistic open-source / anarchist types, money-grubbing ruthless evil corporations and cyber-punk-esque dystopian futurism to make it not just a book version of some VH-1-like tribute to all things geeky 80's.
I spent most of the non-working parts of my birthday reading this book and it was a great way to spend the day. It brought back memories of so many Atari games that I spent days of my childhood trying to beat, games that I hadn't even thought of in years. It captured the dorky escapism of escaping from the real world into worlds of crudely rendered pixels, and afternoons and weekends playing seemingly never-ending Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, and watching the same movies over and over again till the entire dialogue is still embedded in your (well mine, maybe you've done better things with your memory) mind over twenty years later.
I'm not doing any justice to this book with my review. The book is getting all kinds of buzz already and it's still not out for another couple of months. If you're going to read it you'll probably hear about it from more lucid sources than myself but maybe you'll just take my word on this one and check this book out, although if you're childhood memories aren't filled with playing Atari and watching John Hughes films then I'm not exactly sure if you'll find this nearly as much fun as I did.