By Ernest Cline
Life’s a game, and everyone wants to win.
Reality can be an ugly place. Most escape into the Oasis, a massive online simulation that recreates worlds found in science fiction and fantasy. Over time Oasis has grown into the most profitable product in existence. It’s the center of commerce, online education, and every form of entertainment ever imagined, including a contest to determine who will inherit control of the Oasis itself.
The story is familiar but effective. A poor boy dreams of finding the prize, and has a moment of insight that allows him to breakthrough and join the adventure. Propelled into celebrity status, the character must now navigate his newfound opportunities, and come to terms with larger issues at work. Everyone wants to win the prize for themselves, but no one wants the winner to be IOI, an evil corporation planning to monetize every aspect of the Oasis.
The characters are real, the writing straight forward and easily accessible. The story briefly touches upon body issues and the nature of identity, but often spends more time providing backstory on the various books, movies, shows, and games being referenced. This story is a library of recommendations hidden within a familiar story, a fun adventure where a character sets out to achieve his dream, and grows beyond it.
Amulet of Samarkand