Fanboys of the world, I’d say this one is for you, but chances are you’re rolling your eyes at that belated statement, given that the United States movie rights for this one were obtained for the low price of 7 million dollars and it’s got some newb of a director called Spielberg attached. That’s right - JUST the rights for the US. For the rest of us less...say, fervent nerds, behold a book we can read and enjoy instead of fighting crowds at Comicon (#neverwilliever), or reading a Bill Gates/Steve Jobs romance fan fiction (if this exists and you find it for me, I will buy you a pizza. Seriously. That will be your Easter Egg). That is also to say, I, an avowed video game h8r enjoyed it, and suspect many of you nerds/geeks on all ends of the spectrum (like to fervent to obsessive) who enjoy fun adventure books will too (but I didn’t think there were enough BSG or Goonies references, so WHAT UP, Mr. Cline? Sloth love Chunk.).
It is 2044, and the world is a dystopia meets technerd utopia. The climate and world, physically and politically, are a big ole mess; people live in urban squalor, and more or less everyone spends all day plugged into a virtual world called the Oasis in some capacity: schools, business, government, entertainment, banking and commerce (I’m assuming Bitcoins finally took off), etc. - it all happens 24/7 in the Oasis, an immersive virtual reality accessed via some recognizable yet futuristic technology: visors, consoles, gaming systems, sensor suits, etc. When Oasis cofounder and owner, the eccentric 80’s enthusiast, recluse, and billionaire James Halliday dies, he leaves behind a will in video form stipulating that he has created a treasure hunt and hidden virtual three keys inside the Oasis that unlock an Easter Egg: ownership of his entire fortune and his owning stake in the Oasis. Wade Watts, a (virtual) high school senior, and millions of others around the virtual and physical world become obsessed with finding it. Wade, or Parzival, as his avatar is known online, however, is the first person to find a key. The virtual world begins to bleed even more into the physical world, and danger becomes more than a virtual reality. Wade soon finds himself in deeper than he ever could have imagined.
There are too many ways to count the 80’s pop culture references, and there is enough adventure, fun, nerd romance, nostalgia, and moments of distorted looking glass recognition in this bizzarely plausible future; it’s much more Wall-E than Gattica, if you will. It’s super fun, period, but I admit to suspecting you’ll find it more fun if you’re over 28ish and have a functional memory of the 80’s. It’s enjoyable too if you like dystopias, techy sci-fi, Xbox, World of Warcraft (give these little Minecrafters 10 years and they’ll be on board, Mr. Cline), want an Ender’s Game readalike but aren’t a homophobe, and are roughly 13 and up (there’s some naughty words, I think, if you care about that).