Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

details
Title: Ready Player Two.
Writer(s): Ernest Cline.
Narrator(s): Whil Wheaton.
Genre(s): Science Fiction.
Publisher: Random House Audio.
Format: Audiobook.
Release Date: November 24th 2020.
Length: 13 Hours and 46 Minute.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

thoughts

With his debut novel Ready Player One, author Ernest Cline blew up in fame as he offered the ultimate 80s geeky escape to readers looking for an unhealthy dose of nostalgia and action-packed entertainment. It only took a movie adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg for the world to go mad and feverishly develop a curiosity for all the music, movie, and video game references jampacked into this story. It also only took a blockbuster adaptation orchestrated by one of the most revered directors in cinema for author Ernest Cline to motivate himself to write a sequel that will eventually get a film adaptation. However, that can’t possibly be a good source of motivation to deliver solid story-telling material, right? Or can he prove the world wrong and give us an authentic and exciting ride into this world of virtual reality?

What is Ready Player Two about? Set after the Easter egg hunt introduced by the Oasis founder James Halliday, Wade Watts finds himself exploring his superabilities within the virtual reality that he now controls in the palm of his hands while his friends from the High Five crew are off dealing with their own personal issues and goals within the real world. Convinced that there were no more mysteries for him to uncover, he makes a discovery that flips his world upside down, leading him straight into Halliday’s secret vault where lies an undisclosed technology that can lead to unbelievable implications on humanity, for the best or for the worse. Chained to this surprise is also another Easter egg hunt that catches the attention of a treacherous rival who would do anything to get their hands on this grand prize, even putting countless lives at stake.

“If it weren’t for Tolkien, all of us nerds would’ve had a lot less fun during the last ninety years.”

— Ernest Cline

Talk about a one-trick pony. Where there’s a guilty pleasure in discovering the author’s mindless infusion of references, the lack of authenticity, style, and creativity sends this story straight into a virtual tornado, rarely giving his world the chance to find its footing and explore novel story-telling ideas. Instead, the prose is continuously overwhelmed by references, hiding the lack of heart and soul in the author’s writing, and focuses on a narrative copy-pasted from the first book, eagerly hoping that the reader doesn’t notice its issues. The pacing also strongly contributes to the flawed storyline, with the better part of the first half forcing down the reader’s throat the pros and cons of this infamous technology and how it will have repercussions on the real and virtual world (not missing a couple of opportunities to mock real-life issues in an attempt to sprinkle hints of a cautionary tale within this science fiction adventure). The second half then grabs you by the ear and drags you through a déjà vu Easter egg hunt as if the author just remembered how this structure worked well in the first book and couldn’t hurt if it was rehashed once more.

What turned out much more frustrating was the protagonist’s personality. Within the first couple of chapters, author Ernest Cline transforms his hero into a money-blind, arrogant, selfish, and despicable runt who got carried away by fame and glory and loses touch with the values that made him much more relatable in Ready Player One. In fact, to speak of a transformation would be too much considering that said transformation happened spontaneously, out of the blue. Furthermore, his character serving as the vessel to convey social commentary was absolutely ill-advised as his elitist and ridiculous wealth made his perception of the world completely biased and borderline inappropriate. While his voice became void of weight to the reader, the recurring cast and the latest addition also seemed shoe-horned for the sake of diversity and worked against the author’s intention and attempt at inclusivity. Fortunately, the simplicity of the story’s core mystery regarding this final Easter egg and the trivial geeky escapism that it offered made for a tolerable and somewhat amusing ride but its issues are more than obvious and difficult to ignore in the end.

Ready Player Two is a frustrating yet addictive sequel that further explores the Oasis and its virtual reality wonders and issues while drowned by the author’s overwhelming obsession for references and nostalgia.


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33 thoughts on “Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

  1. I have not ready either of Clines’ books, but everyone else who has read RP2 seems to have felt the same way as you. That’s the problem of writing per formula. Gotta make sure that formula is good for more than one use 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Noooo! I HATE when they change their character so much that I can’t love them anymore. That will always ruin the book for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I absolutely loved Ready Player One. It was the right book at the right time and brought me back to my youth in such a fantastic way. But when I heard about Ready Player Two I was immediately skeptical. Some things are much better as standalones. I recall how much I loved the Highlander movie. Then Highlander 2 came out and I remember how utterly disappointed I was and how I wished they had just left well enough alone. I didn’t want to relive that experience, so I’ve skipped this one. It appears that decision was for the best, and I’m sorry that’s the case. On a possibly (hopefully) more positive note, how was the narration?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m the same as you with Ready Player One. I had such a blast with the book. I avoided the sequel for a couple of years now, fearing the worse, and finally cracked recently, deciding to give it a try just to see if it might prove me wrong and offer up the sequel that I could only imagine it could’ve been… But nop. This just felt like a crash grab for me.

      It’s what’s so scary nowadays with sequels… And even more with reboots. Reboots of beloved classics. I sometimes wonder if it they’re really necessary. I mean, sure, you’re going to try and recreate a story for a new generation of consumers but can you really get it right without making it seem like it’s just copy-paste?

      I had no particular issues with the narration here. It’s done by Wil Wheaton, who also did the narration for Ready Player One, if I stand correct (I read that one, never listened to the audio). It was easy to follow, a touch of geekiness in the voice, but I think, the story and direction irritated me too much to fully appreciate that narration in the end.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think the general consensus about Ready Player One is that it was decent for its time, but could only have been written and praised back when the seedy underbelly of geekdom was not known (even by those in said groups). But in any case, it’s not terribly surprising that a token sequel to a book that hasn’t aged well (even if it’s not really the author’s fault it didn’t age well) would not a hit make. Sequels need to have a purpose; if they don’t, that lack of drive sticks out like a sore thumb.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I couldn’t have said it better. And that’s also why I’ll probably never reread the first book. I had fun going through it, ignoring its flaws, and embracing all of the nostalgic fun it offered but if I were to hop on that ride again, I’m pretty sure I’d be a bit annoyed by some of the gatekeeping going on and the plot issues it contains.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed the first book, but having seen other reviews with similar sentiment as your’s, I won’t be picking up this one. Could the change of personality be caused by the concluding events in the first book? It probably could change a person…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d leave it there indeed. I don’t think you’ll get much from visiting this sequel, especially when the first book works wonderfully as a stand-alone story. And yes, absolutely. That’s probably what Ernest Cline was trying to go for but how he got his character to that state is a transformation that was nowhere to be found and that was annoying for me hahah

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I haven’t read the book(s) but I remember seeing the movie and feeling pretty much what you describe here: the references seemed a bit forced and it overall felt like the movie was solely relying on “fan service”, so I can imagine what you’re describing here very easily! (though maybe you don’t share my views on the movie)! Also, I noticed that ou actually “listened” to this one and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts (and how and when you actually listen to audio books) ahaha or maybe you talked about it already and I missed it/forgot about it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ahhh but I do share your thoughts on the movie. The first book was much more enjoyable. The movie butchered some of the story and changed up the villain and the ending. All I could appreciate for the movie is how much effort was put into making it a visual spectacle but otherwise, it was an average-mediocre adaptation hahah

      Yes! I might have mentioned it in my February wrap-up but I planned on talking about it again a bit in my upcoming wrap-up. I’ve found key moments in my new routine where listening to audiobooks was absolutely perfect and it has allowed me to get through so many books that I would’ve otherwise left in my TBR and never gotten myself a copy to read hahah

      Liked by 2 people

  7. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I never read this (or the previous) book. I remember my partner’s parents playing the movie for me as I ‘relaxed’ after a car accident (i.e. I was under house observations for more serious injuries) and I didn’t really enjoy the movie. It might have been the shock and pain I was in, or maybe it just ain’t my syle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually didn’t enjoy the movie myself. I only appreciated Spielberg’s cinematographic vision and the amount of CGI required to do that movie but otherwise, it changed up things from the book that made the movie feel kiddish. I don’t think your shock and pain hindered your appreciation for this movie if you ask me. Hope you got better since that accident though!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. As a child of the 80s, I enjoyed the nostalgia he shared in both books, but it begins to completely overload the narrative and I felt it became a vomit-fest of facts and trivia. It actually began to upset me, as there was so much emphasis put on the past and the experiences of Halliday, Og and Kira with toxic levels of nostalgia. While these thoughts will come across as negative, it was far from a bad book for it still had the fun elements of the first. But, I believe Cline wanted this book to have more of a message than the previous one, and he forced readers to think about how we are living too much of our lives online, and he succeeded in that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely, Nancy! I felt like I was chugging in so many facts and trivia in this sequel. I was also less versed in some of the core stuff but it never felt accessible this time around. Ready Player One just hit all the right spots for me. And yes, toxic level of nostalgia with the three-way love story! And yes, it did feel like he often pushed for a take-home message in this one but because of how the narrative was handled, those messages just felt cheesy to me… Glad to hear your thoughts on this, Nancy!

      Liked by 2 people

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