Overall I found this book enjoyable. I read it after seeing the movie (I swear, one more Ender's Game or Starship Troopers and someone in Hollywood will pay) so it was fun to compare the differences. I really enjoyed the puzzles. They were much better than those on the big screen. The book was also darker, slower, and perhaps a little more naive than the movie.
One of the things I just can't let go of is that the writer described every gamer in The Oasis (patent pending) of being overweight. I mean really? A good portion of gamers today aren't overweight. I mean, yeah I may be a little, but that's not the point! Only a little I swear . . .
But add constantly moving around and the inability to eat while jacked in, and you'd have some wiry fucking game addicts. Then there's the fact that their rigs will actually push against them creating force to work against. It seems like something the writer just didn't really think about at all.
Then there are the fictitious threats to the world in the book. At least in the movie they manufactured some weird times type shit. But in the book a combination of global warming and a lack of fossil fuels is supposedly what's killing humanity. Now lets just set aside for a moment all the arguments against anthropogenic global warming and look at the basics. Supposedly global warming is being caused by the burning of fossil fuels right? But now they're not burning fossil fuels because the whole world ran out like McDonnalds Big Macs the day after lent. So we're not burning very much of those icky fossil fuels . . . but we've still got global warming! This of course also ignores the plethora of electricity generating technology that has nothing to do with burning purified dinosaur remains. Tech like: Wind, Water, Solar, Beamed Power, Wave Energy, and on and on.
But lets face it, those are all nits to pick. They have very little to do with a story about people playing a game to own the game. The premise is brilliant. As a gamer I loved the idea. But lets face it, who among us wouldn't sell their souls and/or family members in order to play a true virtual reality? Don't lie; you know you would. And you'd probably see your siblings in line ahead of you and panic.
The book starts off strong, but about half way in it drops off as Wade suddenly finds himself alone. No friends. No family. Not even any E-Friends. You gotta kind of grind through a bit because he's got this whole impregnable fortress of solitude thing going . . . literally. But the book picks up by the end, and its a good ending. Possibly better than the movie, though it still blows my mind that nobody chose Gypsy Danger as their robot. It's sad really. I mean, it had to be there right? Dammit, I knew you were going to bring up the fact that this book came out 2 years before Pacific Rim! That point is as irrelevant as it is true! (It's also no excuse to not have Gypsy in the movie)
I also preferred it when Ogden Morrow was not a Deus Ex Machina personally. It took something away from the story having him step in (because he's always been watching them) to save them from IOI. Then again the IOI in the book makes the IOI in the movie look like the kid who stole your lunch money at school. No . . . not my lunch money. I brought my lunch :P
Overall I'd say that this book was fun to read. It hits a little closer to the plot zone in story than the movie, and has some surprises (Wade is far more of a bad ass for one) that I enjoyed. I give this book an 84%.