I was vaguely aware of this book when it came out, and bought a copy of it back when it was new but never read it. Since the book has been adapted for film, my son - who really isn't much of a reader - decided that he wanted to read it based upon the fact that he liked the trailer. I grabbed the audiobook for him, narrated by Wil Wheaton, and he and my husband proceeded to read it.
This book is getting a lot of hate online - a lot of the people I follow on twitter are openly contemptuous of both Cline and Spielberg. And, in a way, I do get that. This book celebrates gamer culture in a way that is very white and very male, even if it does purport to have a number of diverse characters. I grew up in the 1980's and the culture checking is very much of a specific kind - D & D, Rush, Star Wars - the stuff that appealed to young white, somewhat socially inept, males. Of course, the primary theory behind the book is that the puzzle was created by an individual who was a young, white, socially inept male during the 1980's, so I didn't perceive this as especially sinister.
I'll talk about the book from all three perspectives. My 17 year old son loved it. He really enjoyed the concepts and found it tons of fun from start to finish. As I said, he is not a reader, so whenever he finds something that he has enjoyed reading, I am excited for him. He is super-excited for the movie, which again is something that I find delightful.
My husband is 52. He also very much enjoyed it. He is not especially interested in gamer culture, didn't play D&D growing up, and his attraction to classic geek interests is quite minimal - he was a multi-sport athlete growing up. He loved the references to the 1980's pop culture and felt like the book was basically nostalgia for sport.
I also enjoyed the book for the nostalgia factor. I'm not a gamer, and am definitely more of a geek than my husband is, although my interests lean strongly fantasy over science fiction. I turned 14 in 1980, graduated high school in 1984 and college in 1989, so I am right in the wheelhouse for 1980's culture checking. I do feel like Cline's treatment was superficial. There was a lot of other stuff going on in the 1980's that is overlooked because it doesn't really fit neatly into the geek narrative, both in publishing and in other media. I was definitely not a geek in the 1980's - I was a very ambitious, very focused young woman and Cline's 1980's retrospective doesn't have a place for me. But that's sort of the point of the book.
It's an easy read - I finished it in under 3 hours (which impressed the hell out of my kid, btw). Some of the gaming parts really drag, and by the end I was tired of the entire thing and skimmed the final battle to get to the win. I can recommend it for what it is - a 1980's nostalgiafest with significant weaknesses. It was fun, but not great.
It did, however, make me want to dust off my copy of War Games to watch with my son. I think he'll love it.
She had raven hair, styled Joan-of-Arc short...Overall, she seemed to be going for a sort of mid-’80s post apocalyptic cyberpunk girl-next-door look. And it was working for me, in a big way. In a word: hot.
This is light, easy, full of '80s nostalgia and fun. An eighteen year old kid living in rough conditions IRL has essentially retreated completely into an MMG in the US in year 2045. He finds himself in a deathmatch with a huge evil multinational, falling in love, and fighting battles we can only dream of. He's conveniently brilliant, and we feel for him because he's charming despite himself. I once spent an inordinate amount of time playing an online text adventure game called "Kingdom of Loathing" - which is not at all like OASIS, but also very much like OASIS in that it lives on pop-culture nostalgia. That's where I first learned about this book.
Nevermind that. There's nothing amazing about this one beyond pure pleasure. I do wonder, if you're too young to have seen Monty Python or played on your Atari (I played Pong for hours on end b/c my father said we couldn't afford more games) or booted up a Commodore 64, would the book be as interesting or funny? I dunno. I really enjoyed this. It was like taking a bath in my younger life.
If you want to read this, treat yourself to Will Wheaton's performance. It's worth it alone to hear him say the following lines when it's time for the elections:
It was also time to elect the president and VP of the OASIS User Council, but that was a no-brainer. Like most gunters, I voted to reelect Cory Doctorow and Wil Wheaton (again). There were no term limits, and those two geezers had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.
That made me giggle so hard - at work, while running statistics. Normally not a funny task.
While this book tries to broach some larger topics, it's probably best to leave those aside. It won't change your life, it won't make you think super hard. It may, however, delight you.