I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.
This is a book with one of the most creative, nerd scifi narratives, exploring the possibilities of virtual reality in a dystopian close future world.
The book follows the story of Wade Watts, a normal teenager fully immersed in a virtual reality called OASIS (a kind of Sims), while the world is slowly decaying around him, economically and politically.
The creator of the OASIS, a multi-billionaire nerd, leaves his entire fortune and ownership of the programme for the player who manages to pass his in-game trials. Obsessed by the 1980s culture, all trials are related to those years, with music, gaming and movie references. Hence, a 1980s renaissance takes place, billions of players being after this prize, an escape from the dying world around them. The protagonist is one of those seekers.
A rival company pours monumental resources with the same purpose of getting the prize and the ownership of this virtual reality. This company slowly develops as the antagonist of the story.
Five years have passed since the creator died and no progress was noticed on the scoreboard towards the prize, a scoreboard available for everyone to see. Until the Wade’s avatar makes the first breakthrough.
The story gradually gains pace. mingled with love, friendship, courage, real life tragedies and perseverance. It is a story that transforms the teenager into a man. It is a kind of a Harry Potter in a dystopian future, but without family references.
The virtual reality, OASIS, looks like a drug, people giving their life and freedom for a world where they can be anything they want to be. The real world is slowly decaying around them, civil duty (like voting) is neglected, allowing some form of slavery to exist. However, the message of the author is that the virtual reality cannot replace the real world: things like a kiss, a touch are unique and cannot to be replicated.
The book is catchy for everyone who played a computer game in their life, so I recommend it as a good reading. I couldn’t put the book down.
(Featured image by Andreas Dantz)