I did really enjoy this book. I feel like I would have got a lot more out of it if I had more of an interest in 80s culture or was born in the 80s but there were some references I got and I really appreciated it. I liked recognising stuff (Especially the movie in the third gate, that made me laugh so hard.) So what’s it about?
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
I know this book got a lot of criticism for being sexist but I think there’s a difference between a sexist character and a sexist author. Wade Watts (Worse name for a character ever) is portrayed as a geeky character who is extremely socially awkward and doesn’t speak to many people in real life, especially women. This is why, in the Oasis, he becomes so obsessed with Art3mis I think. He’s never really met a woman before that is interested in him.
One of the things I like the most about this book is the social commentary. Now I’m not sure if Cline meant for it to relate to the real world or if it was just irony but I think it’s really interesting how much this does relate. Cline does a really good job at showing how much people rely on the Oasis, how people build whole lives on there. A good example of this is when Wade explains:
‘The house or so after I woke up was my least favorite part of each day, because I spent it in the real world. This was then I dealt with the tedious business of cleaning and exercising my physical body. I hated this part of the day because everything about it contradicted my other life. My real life, inside the Oasis. The signy of my tiny one room apartment, my immersion rig or my reflection in the mirror- they all served as a harsh reminder that the world I spent my days in was nor, in fact, the real one.’
Cline later goes on to talk about how the people Wade has known his whole life and considers close friends are people he’s never actually met outside of this world. That people meet, fall in love and get married without ever having seen each other. This is true of our world too, people planning weddings without even being in the same country and never meeting.
This is later solidified when Wade talks about people dying and how it affects him. What he’s actually talking about is an avatar dying but it touched him the same way it would is it was a person.
There was some representation of LGBTQ+ and African American characters but this felt forced at the end. I did appreciate it but I wished it had been brought up and explored sooner and in other ways.
All in all I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend it, the writing was amazing and the world building was really well done. Everything was explained super well and I never felt like there was anything I struggled to understand.
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