This one almost feels like a cheat, since I knew going in I was likely going to rate this 5 stars. I enjoyed the book tremendously when I read it the first time nearly three years ago for Cannonball Read 4. This year I have tackled my dislike/fear of the audiobook experience, and decided on a whim that I really did want to hear the Wil Wheaton version of Parzival’s story. It was simply a delight.
In case you aren’t familiar, here’s Goodreads to give you the plot summary:
It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And, like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who died with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late 20th century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed
I actually think I may have enjoyed the reading experience more this time than I did before. It had been a suitably long time since my first go round that I didn’t remember all the details, and some of the plot points caught me off guard, for a second time. I was also pleasantly reminded of things as they were coming, often thinking “oh, that’s right BLANK happens now”. This added a lovely layer of nostalgia to a book that is in many ways centered on just that idea. While Wheaton’s narration isn’t perfect (he’s not great at delineating character voices, good, but not great) this is still something I am happy to recommend to just about anyone.