Book Review: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One was one of my favourite science fiction novels I’d ever read when I first picked it up. It was a brilliantly nerdy book filled with cultural references, video game references and a multi-layered story that discusses the evolution and effects of technology on culture and wove in a fun ‘bigger than this’ storyline too.

Ready Player Two Book review
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Ready Player Two has come out after Ready Player One was made into a fairly successful movie too and so comes with a lot of hype behind it. It carries on soon after the events of Ready Player One with Wade Watts and co dealing with their newfound fame, money and lives.

Plot – 3.5/5

As I said, Ready Player Two carries on the story from Ready Player One. We pick up the life of Wade and the “High Five” living their lives after the massive fame and money they received from completing James Halliday’s previous quest. The book begins strongly, giving us a great look into how these elements have affected these characters and what this has done for their personal and professional lives.

However, as expected, quickly things turn a little sour when Wade discovers Halliday created a new secret technology that advances the Oasis considerably. When a villain (I won’t spoil who/what) is introduced that threatens the very future of the Oasis and the planet, the team must band back together again to solve another riddle by James Halliday.

I must say, I wasn’t overly interested in the Quest this time round. I’m not sure if it was the fact the novelty had worn off from the first book or that a lot of the references were a little nerdier and less mainstream and so I struggled to relate to them but there just wasn’t the same level of intrigue. On top of this, the book just seemed to go through the motions in terms of the quests. There were very few twists and turns and very little that pulled me in. It very much felt like it had all the negatives of the previous book (average writing and a fairly easy premise) but without the huge positives (the novelty, the more mainstream cultural references and the underlying corporate plot).

Characters – 3/5

I’ll be honest – I couldn’t care less for the characters in Ready Player Two this time around. There were some very obvious interactions and really nothing that drew me in quite like the first. The idea that they were all communicating and interacting via VR in the previous book so you had the element of them being interested in one another based on personality alone is kind of lost in the sequel as we know they’ve met in real life now.

The “love story” is cliche, weak and not particularly interesting. It was such an easy move I was hoping Cline would remove it from the plot altogether and I was rooting for it to not play out at all.

The characters do have distinct enough personalities – they’re quite energetic and you can tell Cline himself is a nerd with some of the interactions and phrases they use which is enjoyable. But other than this, I didn’t have a favourite character and I didn’t have a most-hated one either. The villain was hugely cliche and utterly droll with his stereotypical villainous one-liners too.

Summary – 3/5

As I stated earlier, Ready Player One ticked so many nerdy boxes for me and I absolutely adored it putting it in the upper tier of books I’d definitely reread. Ready Player Two on the other hand screams “sequel for the sake of a sequel”. I mean, fair play to Cline for writing a sequel, who wouldn’t after the hit success of the first? I just feel like it was too similar to the first but lacked any of the elements that made the first enjoyable.

If you enjoyed Ready Player One, temper your expectations for the sequel. It’s an OK-enough book if you’re into the cultural references used, however, don’t come expecting a sweeping storyline or well-developed characters.

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