Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, ) by Ernest Cline
Published by Ballantine Books on November 24, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
Format: eBook (384 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
An unexpected quest. Two worlds at stake. Are you ready?
Days after Oasis founder James Halliday's contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday's vault, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the Oasis a thousand times more wondrous, and addictive, than even Wade dreamed possible. With it comes a new riddle and a new quest. A last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who will kill millions to get what he wants. Wade's life and the future of the Oasis are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.
Proceed With Caution:
This book contains death, violence, discussions of illness, and panic attacks.
It’s been three years since Wade won Halliday’s Easter Egg hunt, and now a new game has popped up. The release of the next stage of immersive technology has unlocked a second quest for Halliday’s heir. What does Wade need to find this time? And why?
I was beyond excited for Ready Player Two. I absolutely love Ready Player One and couldn’t wait for more geektastic adventures! Unfortunately, it became clear very early on that this sequel was going to be a hot mess. Some books really do not need sequels, and this one felt so forced that it was almost painful.
Ready Player Two starts with an info-dump, which is not surprising since the first book is essentially one giant info-dump about the OASIS, ’80s trivia, and pop culture. However, this info-dump was for the sole purpose of retroactively slipping inclusivity into the world-building. It’s all about how physically disabled people are able to enjoy OASIS with their ablebodied counterparts, and how that technology is what led to this next stage, where you can just use your brain to move your avatar. Complete with all five sense! Thanks.
Ready Player Two continues to push really hard on the inclusivity angle and it just doesn’t feel genuine. It’s like the author realized his mistakes from the first book (good!) and wanted to make sure he didn’t miss anything this time. Instead of feeling like a natural part of this awesome world, it’s like he just had a checklist and was collecting points for everything he included. Other than accounting for physical disabilities, there’s also now gender diversity, but each time it was brought up, I cringed because…
I’d done playback of several different flavors of straight and gay and nonbinary sex…
What is “nonbinary sex”? This is actually mentioned twice. A nonbinary person masturbating?
Thanks to the OASIS Neural Interface, your gender and your sexuality were no longer constrained by–or confined to–the physical body you happened to be born into.
I’m pretty sure gender already isn’t confined to your physical body, so OASIS doesn’t get credit for that. You tried, but please stop. There’s so many mentions of how this new technology is making people more empathetic and understanding because they can literally walk in someone else’s shoes. But…that’s a nice idea and all, but…we shouldn’t need to witness vulnerable moments to see people as people.
And don’t think that I didn’t notice how Shoto was only useful when Wade needed to know about something Japanese. Otherwise he was just clueless or silent. Similarly, when Wade knows absolutely nothing about Prince, who comes to his rescue? Aech, of course! I know Wade can’t know everything about everything, but this distribution of knowledge was a choice. Fine, Wade doesn’t know the history of Sega because it wasn’t in the Almanac or whatever. But Prince? Arguably the biggest star of the ’80s and possibly of all time? Nope. Not buying it.
Anyway, the plot. The second easter egg hunt. I wanted to like it. I tried really hard, but this time it just felt tedious. There was an element of urgency added since Wade had less than twelve hours to complete his quest because of reasons. But there were a couple of mentions of “a few hours” passing and it was like…what?! You have like eleven, why are “a few hours” passing?! We’d spend like 50 pages on one task, then a few hours go by, and now he’s rushing to finish up. Needless to say, the pacing was super off. And we already know he’s going to get things done, sooo…
The love-triangle between Halliday, Kira, and Ogden Morrow makes a return in the creepiest way possible. I had already figured out what was going on as soon as Wade read the riddle for the first time, but it took him forever to come up with the idea. I figured there would be another twist to prove me wrong since was so obvious, but no. Ready Player Two is what is. Meanwhile, Wade is still obsessing over Sam/Art3mis. He’s way more like Halliday than anybody could have guessed.
Ultimately, Ready Player Two was a duo of unhealthy romances bound by the danger of virtual reality. Which actually sounds really awesome, and could have been, if it weren’t bogged down by heavy handed (and questionable) social commentary.