Review | Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline

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Review | Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline’s debut novel was a phenomenon. A bestseller adapted into a Hollywood movie. The author returns to his beloved world set in the virtual reality landscape of the OASIS for Ready Player Two.

Author: Ernest Cline | Publisher: Century | Year: 2020 | Science Fiction | Hardback

Set in a future where the world’s economy and resources are dwindling, people escape their mundane real lives by logging into the OASIS. A virtual reality environment where you can be whoever you want. Change your appearance, sex or species. Go wherever you desire, experience things you never could in the real world. In many respects the OASIS has become an extension of life. People work there as well as relax.

In ‘Ready Player One‘, Ernest Cline’s bestselling debut novel, we witnessed the plight of Parzival, real name Wade Watts, as he attempted to unravel a mysterious quest set by the OASIS’ late creator, James Halliday. Whoever completed the Easter Egg hunt, unravelling a series of quests and puzzles, would become heir to Halliday’s fortunes and sole owner of the OASIS.

‘Ready Player Two’ picks up a short time later. Wade Watts made the decisions to share ownership of Gregarious Games, the company that controls the OASIS, in equal parts with his closest friends. Those that helped him complete the quest that afforded him enormous wealth as James Halliday’s heir.

Unbeknown to Watts, Halliday had developed a new piece of unreleased hardware. The ONI headset which interfaces directly with a users brain creating an, almost indistinguishable from real, immersive virtual experience. But as the technology is distributed into the world a new, final quest appears, set from beyond the grave by James Halliday. Years pass with no one coming close to solving the first clue. That is, until Wade finally manages to retrieve the first of seven shards hidden within the OASIS.

A rapid fire series of events quickly raise the stakes. This time it isn’t a legacy to be won. It’s the lives of millions to save. Trapped inside the OASIS and facing the very real prospect of losing their minds in a very real sense.

As his avatar, Parzival, must unravel the clues before time runs out. Familiar foes and former heroes conspire against him as he seeks the Seven Shards for the Siren’s Soul.

Ready Player Two is the first in our 2021 Book-A-Month challenge. Encouraging everyone to read at least twelve books in 2021. Do you agree with our review of this title? Let us know via social media, or in the comments below.

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You don’t have to be familiar with Ready Player One to enjoy it’s highly anticipated sequel. In fact, it’s probably more enjoyable if you haven’t. After all, they are in essence the same story.

Ernest Cline’s second adventure set in the virtual reality world of the OASIS picks up on Wade Watt’s progress, subsequent to the events of the first book.

As his online persona, Parzival, we cheered this nerdy kid on as he pitted his wits against a huge corporation for control of the OASIS. Ready Player One was a David and Goliath tale where, against all odds, the little guy could win.

In Ready Player Two, Watts now runs Gregarious Games and its many subsidiaries. The company monopolises the market having bought out its competitors. It is the single most powerful corporation in the world. He’s no longer the underdog, instead this all-powerful person, both in real life and online, now comes across as obnoxious.

Things take a turn with the introduction of a new quest. Parzival is tricked out of artefacts that protect his online welfare and it soon becomes clear that he is the only one that can complete the tasks that will save the lives of millions trapped in the OASIS, unable to logout, stuck in a comatose limbo.

What follows is something of a procession. Parzival and his online buddies just happen to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of each task set. From obscure video games to the work of legendary filmmaker, John Hughes, to the intricacies of Lord of the Rings. There’s even a sequence focussed entirely on the late. great pop superstar, Prince, set in ‘The After World’.

As interesting as these scenarios could be, the character’s journey is a fairly safe one. There’s little to convince me that they won’t succeed in each task. Any jeopardy is negated by the frequent use of the word “luckily” followed by a character’s fortunate knowledge of the specific dilemma at hand. We bare witness to a long series of happy coincidences.

Putting all of this aside, Ready Player Two is actually an enjoyable enough read. If you enjoyed the abundance of pop-culture references in Ready Player One, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get the same kick out of it’s sequel. The action moves at a brisk pace so as not to dwell too long on any specific fandom. Plotlines are woven well enough to provide a few twists, though nothing particularly surprising and ultimately this is a feel-good story. You don’t have to think too hard (at all) about what’s happening.

Perhaps most bizarrely, this story takes it’s most interesting turn at its very conclusion, as the opportunity for future instalments could take a very different, far wider reaching approach. That I would like to see explored.

High literature it isn’t. You can pick holes in the story all day long and roll-eyes at how often the team have just the right skill-sets at just the right time. But if you’re looking for a fun, not too serious, throwaway piece of entertainment, Ready Player Two provides.

3 out 5

One for the fans. Adequate throwaway fun for those that love pop-culture references. 3/5


Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd

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