Title: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
Book Beginnings quote: (From the Prologue, called Cutscene):
Friday56 quote: (from page 23, the last page in free preview):
Summary: Ready Player Two picks up nine days after the exciting ending of Ready Player One when Wade (Parcival) and his friends win the James Halliday contest to discover all the Easter Eggs hidden in the OASIS, making them multi-millionaires and in full control of the OASIS. 'The Book Beginnings' quote comes from the prologue where readers discover that on this day Wade learns that Halliday has a few more surprises that he's left behind. One is an ONI headset, which allows users to experience the OASIS straight to their brains, giving experiences a realism not known before, and making the old headsets obsolete. It is ground-breaking. 'The Friday56' quote tells us what we are about to read is an account of what happened after the switch to ONI headsets is made and how things nearly fall apart completely.
Review (with the help of other reviewers): I was a big fan of Ready Player One. I loved the cultural references to everything '80s, even though I'm old so many of them I didn't experience first hand. I also enjoyed the twist on the dystopian novel, where the world is in a sh*tty state, yet there is something that gives people pleasure and fun for a little escape. I felt no need for a sequel. That book wrapped up to my satisfaction and let my imagine determine what would/might happen next. But Cline wanted to cash in his first success, so why not write a sequel?
Tom Jorgensen, reviewing the book for IGN, offers this thoughts about the differences between RP1 and RP2:
While just as fantastical as ever, the OASIS proves to be a more exhausting setting this time around. The first novel featured a healthy back-and-forth between the real and virtual worlds, giving us a lot more perspective on how the events in the OASIS were affecting the outside world. Due to the nature of the villain’s plot, and the fact that Wade sadly remains the only POV character in the book, nearly all of the action is locked into the OASIS this time around. That feels like a missed opportunity on two fronts. Not only are the real-world stakes of Wade’s quest massive and worth checking in on with more depth and regularity than they are, Wade continues to be kind of a tough guy to root for...Too often, it feels like Wade hasn’t carried forward any of the lessons about humility and connection he learned in his first adventure. A lot of his faults were more forgivable last time because he was an outsider, a poor kid with a lot to learn about the world and other people. But after that kid’s had a chance to learn those lessons and become one of the wealthiest people on Earth, you’re less inclined to cut him some slack, especially given how often he demonstrates a complete lack of self-awareness.
I agree. I cut Wade slack in the first book because he was poor and lonely. Now he is rich and, let's admit it, an a**hole. It is hard to root for someone so unlikable. Life inside the OASIS with the ONI headsets is addictive, so the real world is completely falling apart as everyone prefers the imaginary world it provides. It seemed tedious to spend time in the OASIS without really understanding what awaits Wade, and Co. out in the world.
Laura Hudson, reviewing the book for Slate, is very critical of the way that Cline treats women and fun. Here she talks about how Cline missed the opportunity to spread some of the fun around.
The obvious swing at critics might make me feel like a bit of a killjoy, if there were any joy to be had between the front cover and the back. The book doesn’t even understand the criticism: Like Ready Player One, the problem with Ready Player Two isn’t its desire to play in a nostalgic toy box of ’80s movies and books and games, but its total failure to evoke what made them fun. There are no pleasures to be had here, only a reminder of things that once produced pleasure. A random page of dialogue from The Princess Bride does not inspire a sense of romantic, swashbuckling adventure.
Hudson's review gave voice to my feelings. RP2 seemed to be a rehash of the first book, so I didn't find the delight I found from reading the first. The novelty of the first wasn't there. If Wade and his friends enjoyed all the 80s memorabilia so much, why weren't the descriptions of their use more fun and exciting? Hudson goes so far to call RP2 a 'horror story' with Wade the biggest villain in the book. I'm not sure I would go that far, especially when I consider what we learn at the end of the book, but, as I said before, Wade is certainly very unlikable.
A teacher friend, KH, who shares my love of quirky books and is another huge fan of RP1, thought the RP2 didn't measure up to its predecessor and doubts she will re-read it like she has the first book. She did enjoy spending time with old friends: Wade, Samantha, Aech, and Og, though. I think she has a fair point. Sometimes we read a sequel because we want to revisit 'old friends' and re-experience the magic.
My daughter, another RP1 fan, and I listened to the audiobook of RP2 together. Doing this we were able to digest and discuss the book in current time instead of waiting to finish it before talking about it with anyone. Wil Wheaton narrated the audiobook for both RP1 and RP2. He is a delight to listen to and that, too, felt like a visit from an old friend. Oddly Carly and I listened to A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor right after RP2. In that book people put on a headset and go into an alternate reality which is so compelling and addictive that real life suffers for it. The juxtaposition of listening to the books one after the other like that was pretty remarkable.
Ultimately I gave the book four stars on Goodreads. That might shock you after what appears to be a fairly negative review. I had to read the book, being such a huge fan of RP1 and I was glad to spend a bit more time with the characters from the first. The ending was a pleasant surprise which probably led to an improved evaluation of the book at the ninth hour!
Have you read it? What did you think?