I thought I’d start out on this site by reviewing what has been one my favourite books this year. I’m so tempted to review almost everything on my shelves; the good, the bad and the ugly. But I thought it was best to start on a positive note.
I bought this on a whim. It called to me in Waterstones, sounded reasonably interesting in quirky modern dystopia way. What this novel actually turned out to be was one of the best cross genre fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time.
I can’t avoid saying it. This novel is geek heaven. And I mean that as compliment. I’m pretty damn geeky, so this was perfection.
It begins rather unremarkably in a dystopian future where humanity spends their waking hours in a virtual reality; OASIS, created in an attempt to escape the knowledge that the real world has been almost entirely destroyed. Our narrator is teenager Wade Watts, who is obsessed with the rumour that James Halliday, creator of OASIS, left a secret quest behind: the winning prize being ownership of OASIS itself. Rather expectedly by the close of the first chapter, Wade has discovered the location of the first clue in the quest, and that’s when the story begins.
And that is when it all changed. It went from an interesting yet predictable plot into something unique, unexpected and entirely gripping. The ‘quest’ that follows on encompasses elements of video gaming, cult movies, internet obsession, manga, anime, role play gaming, sci-fi and even music from the 80s onwards. It is difficult for me to even list everything that Cline has brought into the plot. Despite the huge amount of references, the plot is smooth and gripping without being confusing or dull.
The characters are all interesting and whole in their own rights. The main female character is superb in terms of intelligence, strength and personality. The plot is mainly dominated by males, but his female lead is brilliantly created. I don’t subscribe to the idea that novels about young adults automatically become young adult fiction. I wouldn’t describe this as such at all, and it’s extremely difficult to pin this novel down into one genre. That’s the beauty of it. If pushed I’d probably classify it as dystopian fiction.
Many of the references are to popular culture of the 80s, so someone with no knowledge or interest in these sub genres may find this a struggle. I didn’t know everything the author mentioned, but I still adored every chapter.
So for anyone who has ever been so obsessed with something they couldn’t get it out of their head; that you’d walk through your day just waiting for the moment until you could get back to it, and would go to the ends of the earth to continue with your obsession, this book is right up your street.