I feel like I should have enjoyed the book more, at least enough to finish it, because there's a lot of references to the 80's and to video games that made me nostalgic. Until I became annoyed by the constant references to the 80's. It went from cute to gimmicky.There's also the fact that the characterization is poor and the character development flat, unless you count getting better at the game as development. Wade is a hero that has the potential of being relatable and authentic, but feels flat and has some reactions that feel rushed and don't fit the hero he's supposed to be. Also, he's portrayed as an overweight, insecure, ugly kid, with dreams way to big for his reality, but I stopped reading when he discovers exercise and gets fit in a few weeks. The book either borrows heavily from Harry Potter, or it's filled with common genre tropes I'm not familiar with: he's an orphan who went to live with his evil aunt; the father figure of the story takes the form of an old wizard; and he develops a friendship with a goofy guy and a brainy girl. The premise is interesting, but the tone isn't as dark as I expected. I'm sure there's a message in there about virtual reality and how it takes over our lives, and about how the world is rapidly deteriorating, but I wasn't engaged enough to care.It's pure nostalgia porn, so if you are old enough to remember the 80's, and especially if you grew up in the 80's, I'm sure you will get a kick out of it, but that's pretty much it.