Before I begin I just got to say that Ernest Cline and I have crossed paths too many times without my realization that somehow I was destined to read this book. I didn't know he was a spoken word poet and he is best friends with Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz who is one of my favorite Spoken Word poets. Then the day the book was released she made it a big deal on Facebook and instead of buying the book I simply continued scrolling on with is pretty much what you do on Facebook.
Then I saw the book at the store one day and didn't bother to buy it because I believed I was going to hate it (thats called being lazy and not reading the descriptions). Then years go by and I see that more and more people are reading this book and loving it especially the BookTube community and I decide to check it out from the library. You would think that I would start reading it immediately but nope I became extremely annoyed because I didn't like that the page was huge and the font was small so it would take longer to read the book. So then I decide to buy the book at B&N and did I read the book? Not a chance because I didn't feel the flow of interest within the first page.
Excuses, Excuses, and Excuses until finally a year later I decide to read it because I found out that one of my all time favorite directors, Steven Spielberg is directing this movie so he now has my attention and I wondered this book has to be epic and challenging for him to be on this project and I was definitely right. This book is epic and hopefully one of the best films added to the already mind-blowing films of Steven Spielberg. I do not think I can give this book a proper review but I will try to by bringing out my inner geek.
Attention to All Possible GuntersTo understand and enjoy this story, one must have the following credentials in order to succeed this challenge.
1. You must be a product or byproduct of the 70-80s. <i>(My parents grew up in the 70-80s and had me in the 90s)</i> ✔️
2. You must have played or watched video games within the last 40 years. <i>(I own every console starting chronologically from Super NES to the Wii)</i> ✔️
3. You must like 80s culture. 80s cartoons, movies, fashion, music, television, cars, anything from 1980-1989. If you were a child/teenager during this era then you are excluded from this rule. <i>(I worship the 80s even though the fashion choices of people could tell me otherwise)</i> ✔️
4. Have google search at your disposal at all times. You never know when you might need it. ✔️
If you are not in agreement with the first three rules then please quit reading this book, return it and get a refund because you do no deserve to read this epically fantastic book and waste our precious time and resources.
PrologueWelcome to 2044! Just to let you know the Earth has gone to shit. All the oil in the world has been completely depleted and because of lack of innovation and relying on other forms of electricity we have practically entered the Dark Ages. Remember that thing where people didn't believe in Global Warming? Well, the funny thing is that Global Warming is definitely real, all the polar ice caps have melted and because the weather is going from one extreme to the next, countless countries are suffering poverty, famine, diseases, and lack of stable jobs that could support a family.
For most of the population of the United States, families live in stacks which are trailer homes stacked up one on top of the other which is really dangerous. But If you are super duper rich then this whole dilemma doesn't apply to you but for the masses its basically survival. If this world has gone to the dumps whats the purpose being staying alive? The answer is...
Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation.
Oasis is a console that was created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow from Gregarious Simulation Systems (GSS). Originally it was supposed to be meant for virtual reality video games but now it has taken a life of its own. You can create an avatar and maintain a level of anonymity. Many students attend school, and parents work in Oasis all in the comfort of their own living room. You can practically do anything in Oasis, from playing video games, watch movies/television to having sexual favors with other virtual avatars. Plus this whole virtual universe was free for everyone. You got the console, the visor, and the gloves for free all you had to pay was one time fee of $0.25 cents.
This revolutionized the concept of gaming and sadly the consequence we paid for was our humanity. Since we can do everything in virtual reality, people stop leaving their homes, get obese, and isolate themselves in Oasis. Because of the world has gone to kaput why bother confronting with reality when you have a device that can temporarily erase all your sadness.
Now back to the creators of Oasis. James Halliday and Ogden Morrow are the Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Video Games. James Halliday and Ogden Morrow met when they are in high school and together started their own company of video games. They made millions over the upcoming decades and when Oasis was sold to the public they became billionaires. Halliday was the creator and designer of these devices whereas Ogden dealt with the business side of GSS. Sadly they ended their friendship in bad terms and haven't spoken to one another for over a decade. Then tragedy struck for the whole world. Halliday died from an illness in 2039. The whole world mourn him for about two-seconds because he left a surprise that would shock the world. Knowing that he was dying he wanted to leave in a big bang and made a whole video that would become the plot of this story.
In the video called Anorak's Invitation (Anorak was Halliday's wizard avatar), he announces that his entire fortune in the amount of $240 billion dollars will be put into Oasis for anyone to receive. Since he never married and had children it was pointless giving the money to charity and wanted to have one last fun for his legacy. In order to receive this prize, you need to get all three keys (which are copper, jade, and crystal) in order to receive the easter egg. That sounds quite simple right?
Well, he tells everyone in the video what is the first clue and now we jump forward to 2044 and still no one has figured out the first clue. At first every one was going crazy for that egg but now that 5 years have past, practically the media and everyone else believes that the egg doesn't exist. What also helps is Halliday created Anorak's almanac which is guide to everything about the 80s because Halliday was a teenager during that decade and believed that it was one of the greatest decades in our society. Now that he has dead, everything about the 80s has resurfaced and everyone believes by studying 80s culture they can be one step closer towards finding that egg.
Level 1-3Now we meet our narrator. Wade Owens Watts(W.O.W)/Wade3/Parzival is an 18 year old orphan who lives with his horrible aunt in a trailer. He is fat, has acne, and a fellow Gunter (A gunter is an egg hunter). Ever since he was a toddler he has been using Oasis and worships that console as his escape from reality. Between the nasty aunt and his insecurities he escapes from the trailer and goes into his secret hiding place where he attends virtual school and catches up with 80s arcade games, movies, and tv shows. He is fully dedicated towards finding the egg but sadly he doesn't have money to afford expensive weapons, armor, or transportation. In order to explore different worlds and perform quests, you need credits to teleport or practically do anything and since he is broke he can only afford going to school which is free and hang out with his virtual reality best friend Aech (pronounce like the letter H).
They are both pros on Halliday knowledge, 80s culture and video games and because of their friendship they set new challenges towards competing among each other in different games hoping those skills will come to play in the future. Sure enough it will later pay off. One day during school, Wade sees the mystery clue in a different light and decides to explore his curiosity on potential Copper Key location and sure enough he wins the first copper key. On Halliday's website, there is a score board listing of the top 10 positions for those who retrieve the first key and become part of the competition. It has been blank all these years until Wade receives the first key and all hell breaks loose in the world. People all around the world are beyond ecstatic that the first key has been found and now the intense race towards finding the three keys have begun.
While reading this book I thought this was going to be a simple race with heavy competition and being innocent and naive I forgot that in every story there is a villain. I completely forgot about that minor detail and we have this grand entrance of IOI. IOI (Innovative Online Industries) is this company that was created right after the Hunt began and they are practically this fascist group whose sole intension is to win this contest at all cost regardless whether they have to cheat or even murder people to accomplish this goal.
They have thousands of avatars working for them at their disposal and scholars on Halliday, video games, and 80s culture to help them figure out the clues. Unfortunately since they cheat and not looking at the right direction they have failed to find the first key until Wade comes into the picture. You would think this was no big deal but unfortunately GSS is at stakes with IOI because if they do win the contest, they will get complete control of Oasis and will charge ridiculous fees and stop making it free. By doing so they will handicap our world and put us into a deeper hole then we can already imagine. So for Wade it is crucial that he wins the contest or any Gunter for that matter.
This book left me speechless the entire time. I gave up trying to figure out what would happen next in the story and just enjoy the ride. In the very beginning I found it slow because of the world building and introducing us into Wades world but once he finds the Copper Key the pace becomes faster and exhilarating. I believe the author did this on purpose which got me frustrated but I believe in the end help showcase how exhausting it was that Wade went through 5 years doing never ending research only to find empty handed result which is every time we got one step further in the story, Ernest Cline would take two steps back which in the end help us finding the egg and grow attach to Owen.
For Example, when Wade finds the Copper key and gate, he meets another character who would become his love interest in the story. I really didn't care about his romance in the beginning because for me my main focus was on the contest and not on Owens private life. He is in love with this girl and sure enough she breaks his heart because they have wasted valuable months smooching and not focusing on the Jade key. When he was dealing with his heart break the plot became slow and I honestly could careless about him. No offense to Owen but honestly the world seems like it is going to end and the only way for it to improve is to find that egg and if you put your attention towards solving that egg and a little less on the girlfriend you would be one step closer towards winning that grand prize.
I absolutely went head over heals over this book and I am surprise it is not getting the attention it deserves and I believe that will change once the trailer and the movie is released. I am lucky enough to have parents grow up in that era because they provided me deeper insight to the past then the current generations. I love researching the past because we get a better understand of our culture, the mistakes we made and how it affects our future. I am shock how my generation and the future generations do not care about the past and that is why we have all these iconic films being terribly remake *cough cough Footloose remake cough* because that is the only way they will watch it.
I seriously hope when this film is released that it will bring nostalgia to those who lived through the 80s and a new interest for the young ones. Even though I didn't know a lot of this video games I am lucky enough that google help me find videos and photos to understand the game concept and be able to follow along. I highly recommend this book because it was beautiful showcasing this virtual reality world and bring out the inner kid inside us.
When I was a little boy my first gaming console I ever played was first Nintendo 64 & PlayStation 1. I was four years old and my cousin showed me how to use the console and ever since then I learned how to play video games and efficiently without instructions. My parents then bought me the Super NES, every Gameboy known to man, Game Cube, PlayStation 2, XBOX, XBOX 360 and countless others until the Wii. Sadly by the time I reached high school I stopped playing video games. Between school, rehearsals, music, and studying I was exhausted for anything else and then reading became my new passion. I still drool when looking at the latest consoles and games and wish I had them in my possession but hopefully someday I can reconnect and become an avid gamer again. That is partly why this book brought back so much heart warming memories of my youth and video game experience.