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Ready Player Two Book Review

“Ready Player Two” is an entertaining, but disappointing sequel.

Taking place after the events of “Ready Player One,” “Ready Player Two” follows up on what Wade (AKA Parzival), Shoto, Aech and Samantha (Art3mis) are up to in their new luxurious lives as they now control the OASIS. Wade soon learns more surprises are in store for him when he discovers a game changing ONI headset left by James Halliday. To make a long story short, the company decides to release this immersive brain-computer interface technology which winds up becoming a smash hit. The surprises don’t end there though as Wade discovers there is a new game in which he must retrieve 7 Shards. It’s initially unclear what the purpose of this game is and why it seems to involve Halliday’s lost love Kira (who married Ogden Morrow the co-creator of the Oasis). The central story emerges when a seemingly all powerful, villainous Halliday AI known as Anorak emerges and holds everyone using the ONI hostage until Wade can retrieve the Shards for Anorak. Worse still, Ogden has been kidnapped! What exactly is Anorak’s endgame and what will the Shards do when all 7 are collected? Will Wade team up with his friends once again to complete the quest?

As someone who treasures both the “Ready Player One” book and Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation, I was both intrigued and concerned about this sequel. On one hand, I wanted to learn more about these characters, but, on the other hand, sequels can be a dicey proposition in that they may retread the original story and diminish their predecessor. While not a bad sequel, “Ready Player Two” is perhaps too ambitious for its own good.

There’s a lot to admire about author Ernest Cline’s follow-up. Cline’s attention to detail and world building remains one of his strong suits. The notion of the Oasis and the ONI becoming everyone’s past time (and the main economy) as the real world crumbles around them was another fascinating concept. This more cyberpunk esque sequel also explores some provoking concepts of real and virtual worlds, over reliance on technology, AI, addiction, and the dangers of technology. Alas, that’s also kind of the problem with this book in that it veers off into many directions. Just as an idea is proposed, it’s seemingly dropped as Cline is off to the races with the next piece of plotting. For instance, near the beginning of the book we see how Wade has changed and has lost himself to the point of almost becoming a villain. There’s even a rift between he and his love Samantha/Art3mis which has put a hole in their hearts. It was an interesting angle to take with the character sand one that proved to be among the book’s highlights. That story quickly fades out though once the main plot comes into focus. The whole book is kind of like that. You think you’re going to meet new characters like L0hengrin but then they disappear for a long stretch. You think some familiar faces might return and be integral, but they’re not. The book also wraps up way too neatly and nicely for my taste making the ending feel rushed. 

Another letdown is the quest itself. Sure, it’s filled with pop culture references galore about everything from LOTR and video games to John Hughes and Prince, but it’s not as compelling this time around. It doesn’t help that Cline writes up some corny passages like “But like Bono before me, I still hadn’t found what I was looking for” and “I was rockin’ like Dokken” either. As much as I enjoy Cline’s deep dive into pop culture and nostalgia, it seems like now is the time for the author to explore other genres. Between the 2 Ready books and “Armada,” he’s already retreading similar territory and exhausting his niche style of storytelling.

Overall Thoughts: “Ready Player Two” is flawed to be sure, but it’s still worth a read if you are a fan of Cline’s past work.

December 11, 2020 - Posted by | Book review | , , ,

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