I just finished this book/auidio book a few days ago. I’ve been hearing for years that its one of the best video game novels ever. It’s some of my friends favorite book of all time.
After the death of the creator of the Oasis the world’s most popular game, he leaves a video will. It announces a competition to find an egg in the Oasis, the first player to do this gets to own the company and inherits all of it’s wealth. It follows Wade Watts in his quest to solve the riddles to find the egg.
It’s set in a distopian future where the real world is energy starved, most of it’s a barren wasteland, and outside of major cities people live in trailers stacked up like high rises. But it’s ok because no one has to worry about the planet when basically everyone is playing in the Oasis, a virtual reality Second Life with hundreds of planets. It started out as an MMO and then grew to replace the internet. It’s a platform to conduct business, children go to virtual public schools, and is also a game though most people don’t play it as such.
The Oasis is free to play and it’s also totally pay to win. You can transfer real money to get credits that allow you to buy items, armor, transportation, anything you might actually need to play the game. In fact you can’t even get off the starter tutorial planet without paying a transport fee. For most people this isn’t a problem as they don’t play the actual game. If you did you better pony up the dough so you can go to a planet where you might be able to kill things for experience and if your lucky some items you can sell for some credits to transport somewhere else. Everything has a money sink, ships need to be refueled and repaired, weapons and armor break, and let’s not forget the auction house where you can buy some of the rarest artifacts as long as you have the cash.
It’s a good book, and the audiobook narration by Will Wheaton was fantastic. It was a little weird hearing Will Wheaton narrate the parts about Will Wheaton or the whole sector of the Oasis called the Wheatonverse. I wouldn’t say it’s blew me away but it was set in a very interesting world.
I have to give it credit, the book manages to talk about video games without being cringey. A lot of times books will try to incorporate video games and they just don’t come out well in print. I also learned a lot about video game history and the 80’s reading this book, I don’t know how much of it is true but it all sounded accurate enough.
My one big gripe with the story is that it took 5 years to solve the first clue to find the egg. Thousands of players trying to figure it out and it took 5 years. The next clues only take a couple months each to solve apparently and they’re more obscure than the first. The other problem I had with the book is that the love interest feels forced. It’s like the book was written and then someone said, you know this is a story about a teenage boy and teenage boys are always motivated by chasing teenage girls around. The whole time she’s not even that interested in him and he just obsesses over her.
If you have read Ready Player One and are looking for a similar book, I highly recommend Omnitopia by Diane Duane. It looks like the rest of the series never took off but the first book is a really good read and is also set in an MMO.