Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This was the worst disappointment in years… I loved “Ready Player One” and was eagerly awaiting this second instalment. After all, a sequel to an instant classic? What could possibly go wrong?!
Turns out the answer is “everything”: Wade Watts was an underdog; orphaned, hunted but optimistic and positive with a great group of friends. In this book, though, he has turned into a vengeful spoiled brat:
»I gleefully zeroed out hundreds of trolls in this fashion. If someone talked shit about me, I found them and killed their avatar.«
And that’s not the only instance in which Wade is completely unrecognizable. Our young hero has turned into a complete idiot. Even his one-week-girlfriend Art3mis has understood what a douchebag Wade has become and left him.
His friends are mostly avoiding him but Wade doesn’t really act upon any of that – apart from stalking (!) Art3mis, invading the others’ privacy, etc. etc.
We get told all that during almost the entire first quarter of the book. There’s pretty much just Wade summing up how badly he messed up. Even that isn’t really well presented: This entire part is mostly just boring and partly disillusioning. Exactly the opposite of the light escapism of the first book.
Even worse: It’s the exact same premise as in the first book. In “Ready Player Two” we get to read about yet another easter egg hunt – it even uses the same website… Not only does this feel lazy on the author’s part but very risky as well because you cannot simply use the same plot devices over and over – which is exactly what Cline tries, though.
Plus: Whereas IOI was the big evil corporation, now Wade turned things around and…
»GSS absorbed IOI and all of its assets, transforming us into an unstoppable megacorporation with a global monopoly on the world’s most popular entertainment, education, and communications platform.«
… now GSS is not much better, “weed[ing] out” whatever they deem “unsavory”.
I found my hope somewhat renewed when Cline introduced “L0hengrin” and her “L0w Five” as the spiritual successor of both Parzival and his “High Five” but apart from a few “guest appearances”, this entire (promising) angle remained unused.
The entire book feels like a badly implemented game with tons of repeating “fetch item quests”: Wade and his entourage are running one errand after another. Due to the time-limit Cline has imposed upon our fallen heroes they basically have to rush through those quests as well and everything remains pretty bleak and bland.
At no point was I ever excited or rooting for anyone at all. At some points, to use the author’s own words from the book, “I felt no sense of victory, because I had no idea what had just happened.”.
Even Art3mis who was very critical of Wade for a long time, suddenly comes around and practically jumps back into his arms without any obvious motivation or reason…
Worst of all is the ending, though… A certain device gives Wade the key to (virtual) immortality and he revels in his new-found abilities in a way that’s outright horrifying. Wade’s hybris in these final moments seems to reflect the author’s who probably wrote this book not as a labour of love (like the first book very obviously was) but as one of simple, basic greed.
For an in-depth review of this book, read this one: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…
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Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline