This book is everything! Set in the year 2044, this book is about a world which is in terrible condition where people take refuge in this online (??) virtual reality program (application?) called the OASIS. You can go to school, work, explore, shop, chat and connect with the rest of the world on this. You’re assigned an avatar and you play games to level up and unlock newer features. The creator of the OASIS passes away with no heir to take control of the site BUT he planned an elaborate competition, a treasure hunt of sorts, the first to find the three hidden keys and open the three gates wins all of his fortune and can control the OASIS. The video game obsessed main character Wade, aspires to collect the keys and win eternal glory and this book follows his journey through this quest.
I loved this story so so so much. As someone who has spent more time than I’d care to admit on multiple virtual worlds as a kid (Club Penguin, Millsberry, BarbieGirls, Dizzywood…you name it, I had it.) the OASIS sounds like literal HEAVEN. I would LOVE to spend all my life savings in the world of the Oasis, it sounds like the coolest thing ever. The intricately designed concept of this world is executed brilliantly by Ernest Cline. The amount of effort and research he must have put into finding out about movies and TV shows and games and consoles is commendable. The treasure hunt in this book is one of the most complex, most well planned competitions I have ever read. If you’re a fan of video games, ’80s TV and movies, this is going to make you very nostalgic. I put off reading this for the longest time, but it honestly blew me away.
The characterisation of Wade was great. He had a really sad back story, and the only place he truly felt completely at home was in the Oasis. I really loved his dedication to solving the mystery, he spent years and years trying to crack the first clue. He has a great sense of humor and I also loved his friendship with Aech. For some reason, I though Aech was Halladay (both having the same first letter and all) but that wasn’t the case. Aech is a good friend, always there when Wade needed one. Wade and Art3mis had a very awkward relationship for me, I think they were really cute but in a dorky way. It wasn’t very insta love, so that’s good. Art3mis also is a freaking badass.
Something that made me very excited while reading this was the fact that one of the characters has my name!!! My name is Shotobhisha, which is not very common. But one of the avatars in RPO has the name Shoto! So what if he’s a Japanese male and I’m an Indian female? It still counts, okay?!
With an abundance of references to old movies and games, this story is #throwbackthursday in book form. It’s an incredibly built world, has fantastic writing and characters that will make you smile. I’m looking forward to reading all of Cline’s other work. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year!
The blurb reads ‘Willy Wonka meets The Matrix’ which is an absolutely perfect description.