This book was, for me, one of those special reads. I could barely put it down. Bought it at a little indie bookstore on Mackinac Island (The Island Bookstore) with the intention of getting to it someday. Well, my son read the description and started it, and he could barely put it down.
I finished what I was reading and picked it up a couple of days ago. And that was it. Every spare minute I had I grabbed the book and read. Finished it this morning between patients, and I have to say that it kept me sucked into the story the whole time.
Anyone read it?
It’s dystopian, in that the real world has devolved into a dirty, poverty-stricken dump. Wade, the first-person hero of the book, lives in something called “the Stacks” which are vertical trailer parks. Made me think of the way they park cars in NYC (we don’t do ’em like that in Chicago) where you pull into an elevator of sorts and they hoist your car to the top, then put one under you, and another, and finally, the one on the ground. They stack up the trailers (even some VW minibuses) in metal frameworks, and people live in them. Cheap and efficient, but not very desirable.
Wade’s truly happy in the OASIS, a massive virtual world where humanity more or less conducts their lives in this depressing world. It was designed by a computer nerd named James Halliday, who recently died (at the beginning of the book) and has set into motion a huge on-line quest, the winner of which will get his vast fortune and control of his company. An evil corporate entity, IOI, wants to win, and is hiring the best people they can hire to find this Easter egg, and they will literally stop at nothing, including murder, to get there first. But the true “best” egg hunters, known as ‘gunters,’ are guys like Wade and others who by some combination of luck and brains, find the first key after 5 years of no one having a bit of success in locating it.
I loved the 80’s references (and 70’s references; a lot of the movies and songs and even video games seem to be from the later 1970s as well as the 80’s) and I loved the characters, and I loved the suspense of seeing how Wade and his compatriots would defeat the evil corporation and find the final key and win the game. Plus, there was the added suspense about just who some of these gunters are. I mean, all Wade ever sees is their on-line personas, and he clearly believes that it is enough to know whether he can trust them and be friends with them.
I liked the message at the end. It felt right.
I don’t know if it’s a great book, but for me, it WAS a great book, one I’ll probably read again someday.