All Overthinkers should really check this one out. It’s set in a dystopian future where civilization is crumbling, and people spend all their time inside a massive virtual reality video game. Imagine Second Life, but with a headset and photo-realistic graphics. The catch is, the creator of this game hid an Easter Egg somewhere inside, and whoever finds that gets like 300 billion dollars, plus control of the game itself. And since this reclusive computer genius was obsessed with the 1980s, suddenly every teenager in 2045 is studying old episodes of Family Ties, looking for clues. The book manages to be both sci fi and retro. At one point the main character gets an artificially intelligent personal assistant to help him out, and he programs it to look and act exactly like Max Headroom.
Not a perfect book – the writing can get a little clunky, the puzzles aren’t quite as original as I’d hoped, and the characters are fairly flat. But man, it’s a TON of fun, and I’m first in line for the movie.
If anyone wants to discuss below, make sure to put a SPOILER ALERT if you’re going to get into specifics. Learning what pieces of pop culture will appear on the next page is half the fun.
One of the things that I totally loved about this book was the way it portrayed the digital divide. I don’t think there’s any significan’t spoilers in my next paragraph, but I’ll do this just in case.
For example, all students get the device that lets you enter the VR world (I haven’t read this in a few months, and I forget the specific names), but it’s a really crappy version. And as our hero (ugh, I forget even his name) gains more and more money, he’s able to buy more and more immersive gear, until his entire world consists only of VR. And once he had that money and that gear, he was much more able to succeed at the quest, because of all the stuff he could gain from side missions.
I can’t think of another futuristic book I’ve read that really tackled the digital divide like that head on. Normally, it’s just a semi-utopia, and everyone has computers and brain implants.
I read this book not long after it came out and I remember feeling underwhelmed by it after the praise some of my friends were heaping onto it. I get what the auther was going for, and I think he largely succeeded; if you’re feeling nostalgic about the 80s, this book is a great way to relive that tragic decade without resorting to VH1 specials.
I felt that the book often went too far into encyclopedia-mode and just named/explained several 80s pop/nerd culture references and left it at that. Like Family Guy without the punchlines, but somehow even more obsessed with John Hughes.
I did like how it was a quintessentially 80s story (especially the anti-authority message inherent with the rebellion against that huge corporation trying to take over the online world). In the end, I thought the book was written like a YA book (with all the pros and cons that brings), but not targeted towards young adults, since they wouldn’t get the references.
That said, I do agree that the movie version should be good. It has potential for great visuals, and would likely remove a lot of the encyclopedic fluff.
Just finished reading this on a plane, so I’ll have more specific thoughts later, once I’ve had some time to digest it. It was definitely an enjoyable read, though I agree that there’s not much to the puzzles and it can be dry with the references. I found it interesting that the characters resist working together as much as they do – given the nature of the Sixers, you would think the protagonists would band together, but that’s not the case.