Book Review: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (4/5)

30 Jan

I was skeptical of this one. I often find the sequel to fun stand-alone books are huge disappointments. In my mind, the bar was set low for this one. And it didn’t change my skeptical mind, but it still delighted me. When I needed a book for my vacation, this seemed like a good one to pick up and I’m glad I did.

Cover image via Amazon

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Other books by Cline reviewed on this blog:

Ready Player One (5/5)
Armada (3/5)

Summary from Amazon:

Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything.
Hidden within Halliday’s vaults, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the OASIS a thousand times more wondrous—and addictive—than even Wade dreamed possible.
With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest—a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize.
And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who’ll kill millions to get what he wants.
Wade’s life and the future of the OASIS are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.

Part of the magic of the first book was learning about the OASIS. Now that we know it and how it works, there wasn’t that element of surprise with this book and I knew that lack would make this one feel a little hollow. I wasn’t wrong. As much as Cline tried to inject new elements into the OASIS and Wade with the ONI, it wasn’t the same. There were new worlds and a new adventure, but it was also the same thing all over again.

Wade and Samantha’s relationship seemed really forced. I thought the breakup they spoke about (not a spoiler, it’s in the first chapter) seemed realistic, but the ways they interacted as the book went on seemed more and more forced. Wade himself seemed hollow this time around. He didn’t have the same motivations we saw in the first book and he seemed to be [ironically] more of a static videogame character than a dynamic person. His feelings were lacking and his emotions were minimal. Aech, Soto, and Samantha seemed more real to me this time around while Wade felt like a mouthpiece to describe the changes that had happened since the first book.

Og was a great character in this book. He didn’t appear much, but when he did, his voice of reason was welcome and he was just what Wade and the others needed. He was the ‘wise and trusted advisor’ to the team- like Gandalf. I wished he got more screen time, but I think given his condition, what we saw of him was appropriate.

Wade was a bit robotic in this book and it made it hard to sympathize with him. Add on top of that how often it felt like he was explaining technology to us and it made him feel more and more like a mouthpiece. Soto, Aech, and Samantha felt a bit more human to me, but I think that was really in comparison. The characters were not a focus in this book; it was much more about the plot. As someone who likes character development, that wasn’t great. However, the fast paced plot did help me enjoy it more despite this.


Ernest Cline Image via

The fast paced nature of this book was fun. There was a time limit and that pushed the characters to act and it kept me feeling like I was on the edge of my seat. The beginning felt like too much backstory to me. But once the clock started, I loved the pace the book moved.

The ending was a bit odd to me. This might be a little spoiler-y so please skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to hear about it. I wasn’t ready for such a hard shift to artificial intelligence. I thought the focus on the ONI was a final step in virtual reality was cool, but I wasn’t ready for brain copying. These books are a fun Sci-Fi to me with a lot of nostalgic throwbacks. This was a little more Altered Carbon than I was ready for and it took me out of the fun nature of the book. It wasn’t a bad ending, per say, but it seemed out of line with the other parts of the book to me.

Very often with technologies, we don’t know exactly what the consequences can be. I don’t think anyone ever thought social media would become the political and reporting tool it has today. Similarly, Wade didn’t know what the ONI could do for people, either positive or negative. The book showed a good balance of both, but I think the focus was on the intended consequences and risks of a new technology. The ONI required users to give up a lot of themselves to use it and one glitch put a lot of people in danger.

Writer’s Takeaway: Parts of this book fell into a major ‘telling’ spell to me. Cline was describing what the new technologies could do and how they worked to a point where it sometimes felt like reading a news article on a new discovery. It was very heavy at the front of the novel, catching the reader up since the first installment. This is a hard balance when you’re writing a different time period or different reality and I would have preferred to see it woven in more through Wade’s eyes.

An enjoyable read, but nothing like the first book. Four out of Five Stars.

This book, my first of 2023, fulfills the Future time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline | Pages Unbound Reviews
*Spoiler Free Review* Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline | The Bookish Kirra
Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline | Bibliotropic
Book Review: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline | Reading with My Eyes
Ready Player Two. Ernest Cline’s Sequel to Ready Player One | Cherylcan’s Blog


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