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The year is 2044 and things are looking pretty bleak. Economic woes have worsened, climate change is a reality and an energy crisis has seen the world almost ground to a halt. Most people are leaving in poverty and famine is a reality for almost everybody, even in America.

Almost everyone escapes this grim reality by plugging into the OASIS. A virtual reality programme that literally immerses you in a new world. A world where you can be whoever and whatever you choose and where the possibilities are endless. Children attend school in the OASIS, there are thousands of different planets and worlds to visit and there is a whole economy that made the inventor of OASIS, James Halliday, a multi-billionaire.

Halliday was an eccentric game developer with a penchant for the 1980s. When Halliday died he had no one to leave his fortune to so instead created a competition within the OASIS. The winner of which inherits all his money and control of the OASIS. Whoever can find three keys hidden within the OASIS, will unlock his fortune.

The world soon becomes obsessed with the competition. With big business competing against newly formed clans and individuals all trying to crack a riddle that points to the whereabouts of the first key. People become obsessed with Halliday’s life and immerse themselves in 1980s culture hoping to find clues. But five years after Halliday’s death it remains unsolved. Until 18-year-old, high school student Wade Watts figures out where the first key is hidden and then the adventure really begins.

I had a heap of fun with this book. The references to the 80s don’t stop and while I was a teenager during the 90s I still knew enough to keep up (although I’m not sure how readers pre-1980s or post-1990s would fare). This is a book where imagination is allowed to run riot. And while the amount of coincidences and the depth of Wade’s knowledge and skill does begin to get a little incredulous at times you are really having too much fun to really care.

But there’s more to the story than an epic quest. It is also about losing sight of the world around us and how deep does friendship really go, especially when we spend all our time pretending to be someone or something else.

This is a total mash up of every cool movie, cartoon and video game you can remember growing up with (and then some) with a killer soundtrack to boot, it even has its own mixtape!

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ISBN: 9780099560432 ISBN-10: 0099560437 Classification: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945) Format: Paperback (198mm x 129mm x 24mm) Pages: 384 Imprint: Arrow Books Ltd Publisher: Cornerstone Publish Date: 5-Apr-2012 Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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