I think I’m the last person on the planet to read this book. I read the unabridged audio read by Wil Wheaton which was quite funny considering he’s mentioned at least once as part of the 80’s trivia strewn throughout the story. I wonder how weird that must’ve been for him.
The premise is pretty bleak. The future world has gone to shit and folks have retreated into a virtual reality. Yep. I can totally see that happening and it’s scary. I’m not going to bother with any more plot synopsis because I’m lazy and everyone has already read it. When it began I was a little worried it was going to lose me. It seemed more action-oriented and video-game-come-to-life for my liking and there was a lot of setup. I like those things when they’re mixed up with good characterization but this story was about a kid who steps into a virtual reality and is attempting to beat the game and save the world. How on earth was I going to get to know him and/or anyone else (was there anyone else?)! So yeah, in the beginning, I was worried this would be a DNF for me and the reading world would throw their hate at me when I dared to say so.
But somewhere along the way I grew to care just as much about Wade and his small tight knit group of honest gamers as I did Wade’s journey to beat the game and the Big Baddies. I was quite surprised with that turn of events considering they were their avatars for 95% (maybe more) of the story and aren’t even “real” people. It’s weird but it works.
All of the 80’s nods helped moved things along too. I grew up in the 80’s with a guy who dragged me to all of the never-ending Rush concerts (yes, all of them or at least if felt that way), forced me to watch Indian Jones and the Star Wars trilogy when I would much rather have been enjoying a Hellraiser marathon. Ahhh, the things we do for love. So I was thrilled to see all of the references and learn that my youth wasn’t entirely wasted . . . This book would’ve been perfect had it contained some Madonna and Clive Barker references but you can’t have everything.
I’m glad I hung in there and think it will make an amazing movie. It has a smart, resourceful and brave hero and it wraps its story up in one book. I wish more dystopian books wouldn’t drag things out over 3 or more books!