This is young adult SF/Fantasy for adults, specifically those of us who came of age--as they used to say--during the eighties.
And it is a hell of a lot of fun.
One could also read a little more into it, were one so academically inclined. That most of the action takes place in a virtual world (is it real, then?); that a character is aware they are acting in a virtual world and their body exists in the real world (identity, consciousness, meta-whatever); real life is a crap heap (escape, evading responsibility for the world around you); dialectic virtualism and the hedonistic avatar of post-video immersion (the author is only giving nods to the academic stuff and really just wrote a kick-ass adventure novel replete with copious pop culture references).
That it has heart, we expect, and are rewarded.
Flaws? Of course. The prose is serviceable, but for all the imagination put into this, it lacks imagination: gamers forty years from now are still using the same slang words*? If most of humanity has abandoned the creeping dystopia for living the majority of their lives in the virtual one, why haven't the metaphors, similes, and reference points changed to reflect this reality? Predicable plot twists? Well, sure, but surprises aren't the joy here.
Anyway, forget all that. This book is fun, smart enough in its way, and I can't help but recommend it to anyone over the age of 35.
Or people who like dystopian novels.
Or young adult SF/Fantasy aficionados.
Nerds, geeks, and lacrosse players.
*Never mind, I mean, we still use "cool" and "groovy" and "23-skidoo."