By Ernest Cline

Rose Rating – 2

Maturity Level – 14+

Genre – Dystopian YA Sci-Fi

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Wade Watts lives in the dystopian futuristic year of 2045. It’s a world that is physically deteriorating, and to escape the harsh realities of trying to make ends meet, most people prefer to ‘live’ in the OASIS.

The OASIS being a massive online virtual reality – an entire universe unto itself. When the creator of the OASIS died he created a scavenger hunt, that becomes something of an urban legend.

The ‘legend’ goes that the person who can discover and win challenges attached to three magic keys, embedded in the system, will win the empire of owning OASIS. Wade becomes part of a select group of people who never give up on searching. When he discovers the first key and completes the first challenge, he quickly learns that there are others who are willing to kill for the keys to the kingdom.

It’s not just a race to win, but a race to save his life, and his friend’s lives too.

My Thoughts

I first found out about this book at the movies, when I saw the trailer for the movie adaptation five months earlier. I thought “Hey that looks like it’s going to be a good movie! I have plenty of time to read the book!” I bought the eBook immediately after the movie and began to read it when I got home.

I have to admit I got sucked into the story right from the get-go. I was completely enthralled with the universe and this whole ‘Charlie’s and The Chocolate Factory’ type sci-fi hunt for the ‘golden ticket’. It was an awesome concept and the pacing was pretty good in the first third of the book.

Wade is your typical geeky under-dog personality and his external circumstances make you instantly sympathize with him. The world building concept of people living on an earth so deteriorated that day to day survival is paramount, makes it completely believable that people would rather live in a digital existence over actual reality. Seeing as how our current existence is somewhat in this ilk, it’s not a far stretch for the imagination.

Now you’re probably wondering, “Mary why the two roses!”

After the initial set up, the “real plot gets going.”

Note the sarcasm here…

To be blunt my willing suspension of disbelief continually went downhill the more I read. I am a light gamer, dabbling in D&D, video, and board games.

As Wade continues on with the contest to find the keys, he meets with challenges, and overcomes them faster than you can blink your eyes. The character growth exists only in how he bulks up on points, armor, special abilities, and rare magic items.

It becomes so unbelievably ridiculous, it’s what gamer’s call OP, (meaning Over Powered). As I stated I’m a light gamer, and even in fantasy gaming the challenges are more real than they were for Wade. Everything just got easier and easier.

When we get to the ‘climax’ it’s really predictable that he’ll just whip out some power item and victory will prevaileth! The final ‘boss-fight’ was so cliche I continually groaned in agony, and the face-palms from the over-done-cringy-nostalgia nearly gave me a concussion.

It actually became painful to finish this book.

Would I Read Other Work By This Author?

It became apparent to me that this story was less about Cline writing for the sake of wanting to create great stories such as Stephen King or Neil Gaiman, and more about Cline living his geeky wet dream of creating a universe where all his favorite geeky games exist, and vicariously through Wade gets to be – THE mega-man of power.

I would have to say, NOT A CHANCE would I read anything else by him.

My wife who heard my endless complaints about this book as I struggled to finish it, suggested that I try “Snow Crash”. I think I’ll give that one a try instead.

MOVIE-TO-BOOK COMPARISON – I actually thought the movie was better! If you want to learn why, scroll down and watch my youtube video. Or click the link here.