There was a mixture of emotions when I heard that “Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline was being published. The science fiction debut by Cline was fantastically written. Chock full of pop culture references, the nerdy video game novel ended in a satisfying way. I didn’t think that there would be a sequel, but here we are.
If you haven’t read the first book, “Ready Player One” is set in a world where most people escape their real world lives by utilizing the OASIS. The OASIS is a virtual universe where people can be whatever they want.
“Ready Player Two” follows the events of “Ready Player One” with Wade Watts summarizing the first couple of years after he and his three companions win Halliday’s Contest. Wade also discovers some new technology left behind by Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, that changes the game. Once that happens, there’s more summarization mixed with some actual storytelling. The real plot and villain of the book pops up at page 121. That’s about 32 percent of the story that’s used to set up for the rest of the book.
Besides the irregular pacing of the plot, one of the issues I have with the sequel is that it erases the lessons that Wade learns from “Ready Player One.” The choices that Wade made in the years after completing Halliday’s Contest pretty much sent his character back to the beginning of the first book.
Once the inciting incident happens, Wade and his companions are sent off onto another quest to find seven shards. The narrative picks up at that point and finishes with several epic battles. The ending seems like an actual ending and I would be more than surprised if Cline decides to write a third novel.
Having said all of that, I thought that those first 120 pages could’ve been expanded upon and made into an actual sequel with a cliffhanger ending. The rest of the novel could’ve been expanded upon and made into a conclusion. If that were done, character relationships could be cultivated, and things wouldn’t feel so rushed. There’s also a set of characters called the Low Five, a younger generation of OASIS users that model themselves off of Wade’s group the High Five. As it’s written, these younger players aren’t given enough description and readers are only given a taste of the group.
Once the quest for the seven shards does begin, there’s plenty of pop culture references and story to make short work of the remaining 250 pages. If you’ve ever played a video game, you’ll feel right at home as Wade goes from one planet to another fighting battles and solving riddles. The battle sequences are entertaining, making the rest of the scenes that are heavily saturated with references worth reading.
The ending is thought provoking and serves as a solid, satisfying conclusion. As I said above, I would be surprised and disappointed to see a third book from the point of view of Wade Watts.
If you enjoyed “Ready Player One” you may or may not enjoy “Ready Player Two.” After writing this review, I looked around the internet and found that from other reviewers that readers will either like the book or hate it. You’ll either love the plethora of pop culture references or you’ll increasingly become more annoyed with them as the story goes on. While I didn’t think it was the best novel, far from it, it was an entertaining and decent sequel that lived up to the first book.