In this sequel to Ready Player One we return to Wade Watts after he’s won the contest to control Oasis, the virtual utopia created by James Halliday. Now he pretty much rules the world, virtually and literally, and has become filthy rich. But money can’t buy you happiness, something that Wade has already started to realize all too well. So even though he now has everything he could possibly want or need, he still wants to escape the real world. Maybe even more than before.
I loved Ready Player One, but since it was written as a stand alone, I was so surprised by this sequel and a bit skeptical whether I was going to enjoy Ready Player Two quite as much. The answer, sadly, was no.
It was such a slow start for me reading this book. The biggest problem was that Wade didn’t come across as very likable. He was mostly moping around, complaining about what he’d lost without admitting his own blame. In the first book, he was the geeky underdog that it was so easy to root for. Here, he’s turned into an easily offended, touchy and selfish person who even cyber-stalks his friends and abuses the powers granted to him as owner of the OASIS.
“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
After the initial very informative and slow chapters, the pace picked up after about a third of the book, and luckily had some of the fun, geeky vibes from Ready Player One. At this point it also fast forwarded timelines from just days after winning Halliday’s contest when Wade discovers a secret vault that contains a technological advancement and a new quest that relies heavily on knowing pop-culture references, to three years ahead when he still hasn’t solved the quest, but is more or less forced to due to threatening circumstances that will change both the OASIS and humanity forever.
“You guys all watched Swords Art Online and the Matrix films and yet you thought it was a good idea to hand over control of your brain to a computer?”
Unfortunately, the magic didn’t last for that long. Ready Player One had me hooked with its perfect mix of sci fi and 1980s pop culture references from fashion to music to games to computers. But this time around, the trivia facts were still there, but they came across as forced and added just for the sake of it, not by the same love and devotion as in the first book. In parts it also reminded me a bit too much of the Harry Potter series ending with the search for the shards that were very similar to the Horcruxes hunt. Ernest Cline even seemed to have thought of it himself by letting Shoto make this comment:
Shoto rolled his eyes. “We’re gonna be looking for Horcruxes next.”
Overall, Ready Player Two was entertaining, especially the middle part, but it didn’t recapture the magic of the first book.
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