This has been on my to-read stack for a few years. I finally got to it this weekend on the recommendation of a co-worker who listened to the audio book narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Let me start with the good/acceptable/decent about the book. The world building is good as well as easy to grasp. We are dropped into the greater Seattle area in a massive post-fuel depression that isn't quite dystopian but feels very tired and crowded. More and more people are mentally fleeing to the OASIS, an immense virtual reality universe that allows for everything from attending high school - which our hero does - to competing in tournaments. The plot is a decade-long set of quests with a bit of a computer thriller added into it, while the quests themselves are built as an immense homage to 1980's geek culture trivia. The "hero" (narrating in first person - ugh!) is decently believable if a bit too well spoken during the mental narrative.
But there was a lot wrong with this book. It's got a horrible set of gender stereotypes that just get worse as the book progresses. About half way through the story, a painful pseudo-romance that has descended into stalker behavior is used as plot motivation for the "hero." And rather than build up the final fight scene to a beautiful starburst ending, the book ends too late, and finishes while focused on that same weird obsession that the narrator confuses with love. Also, in order to actually get to the final fight scene, the Great and Powerful OZ - I mean Og - shows up to rescue the heroes and heavily influence the competition/quest.
So, do I recommend it? "Depends." If you want to play around with the idea of an MMO/VR world that is chock full of 1980s trivia, sure, it's a fun romp. If you've become more aware of what is acceptable behavior for relationship-building and gender acceptance, then I recommend you give this a big fat no.
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