Ernest Cline is an American author best known for his book Ready Player One (made into a film) Cline is a big lover of video games and this is quite clear in his books. He followed up on his debut novel ready player one with Armada, another high-stakes story based around video games. His stories in the Oasis universe show how technology can impact everyday life and also how it can be abused. His signature blend of pop culture, 80’s trivia and adventure, and compelling characters have found quite an audience.
Ready Player Two returns us to the world of Parzival and the Oasis. Days after the events of the first book Wade makes a discovery that starts off another scavenger hunt throughout the Oasis. A new revolutionary advancement, a new puzzle to solve, and a new antagonist for Wade and his friend to face off against. Ready Player Two takes us on another nostalgic fuelled adventure through Clines’ virtual worlds.
I try to make these reviews a place you can come to and get a good idea of whether you would want to part with your hard-earned money to go on another adventure. I am quite easy to please when it comes to Fantasy/Sci-Fi so I was looking forward to reading this book. But, there will be spoilers in this one, so if you don’t want anything spoiled you may want to stop reading before the image below.
I will say that although I am going to go into a bit more detail as I struggled a bit with this book is still worth a read as it is enjoyable. But I think had I read something like this review I would maybe have used the library for this one. But, if you want to know more about what I thought, read on.
Still here…. good, here we go!
After the success of the first book, there was a bar set for this one. The first book was an amazing journey through my childhood and I devoured it. When I started the sequel I was full of hope. To justify a sequel Cline has introduced new technology that has its own positives and negatives, something that is central to the story. We then get a new puzzle for our hero to solve with bigger stakes than the first book, the problem is it’s just a bit too similar for me.
There is a lot of telling at the beginning which introduces the “new world” and then has a jump so we can see how things have got on. After this Cline spends a lot of time going back to explain things and at the same time not explaining things, it was quite frustrating that in the beginning, he kept referring to the “High Five” as they are called but only talking about four of them, it took a while into the book before we learn that Daito was killed in real life, but this seems like something that needed to be told much earlier. I actually ended up googling this before I got to it in the book as I thought something was wrong. Then there were the 80s references, I get that this is Clines thing and it was great in the first book. But in this one, I just felt like it was being overused, every slight thing was explained in minute details to the point that it was getting annoying. Films, books, music, and people it was all there all the time.
I also don’t know why but the character interactions in this outing didn’t feel right, they didn’t seem to gel like they did in the first book for me. Especially the relationship between Samantha and Wade, I felt their whole situation was engineered to just add in another subplot to carry alongside the main plot. Something else I always wonder about when I read these books is the Oasis itself. It’s touted as a global system that is now used for all infrastructure, something the world could not live without. But, it’s all 80s related, I would think that if someone created a true virtual world now it would be more inclusive and end up being full of more than just one decade. The themes in the book were tied to many real-world references in this book, from the social media aspect, the ONI net videos being like we consume Tik Tok to the ever-present threat of AI.
I know I have just complained about the book for the last several paragraphs, but I would like to say that despite all of this I still enjoyed it. It was nice to come back to the world and see how the characters were and I did like some of the nostalgia. It is worth a read but unfortunately, it’s probably not a book I will want to read again for a long time.
You can purchase Ready Player Two from your local Bookshop supporting indie bookshops is important and something I am very in favor of. I like nothing more than to browse physical books. Or if you want you can shop online through the usual suspects. (Waterstones, Amazon)