Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, #2)

By Ernest Cline

81,487 ratings - 3.47* vote

An unexpected quest. Two worlds at stake. Are you ready?Days after Oasis founder James Halliday's contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday's vault, 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 An unexpected quest. Two worlds at stake. Are you ready?Days after Oasis founder James Halliday's contest, Wade

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Book details

Hardcover, 366 pages
November 24th 2020 by Ballantine Books
Original Title
Ready Player Two
ISBN
1524761338 (ISBN13: 9781524761332)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

emma

Hello, everyone.

Roll call time! Let’s make sure we’re all present:
- me, the cynical and disappointed reviewer, equal parts dreading the angry comments to come and wizened and numb by the angry comments that have come before (here!)
- other people who were genuinely disappointed by this book after really liking the first one
- the lifeless incels who are sure to yell at me for being a woman on the internet who dares to have an opinion on something that’s For The Boys (definitely here - see comments)

Okay! With that, I think we’re ready to get started!

(insert throat clearing, glass tapping, and so on)

...

This book is bad.

Something impressive is that it’s actually bad in a variety of ways, instead of just really bad in a couple. It’s groundbreaking in that way.

I mean, let’s start with the pacing, considering that was the inescapable nightmare that plagued me for seemingly one thousand pages, unrelentingly boring and yelling WHAT IF I RUIN EVERYTHING? WHAT IF THIS IS NEVER FUN FOR EVEN ONE MOMENT? WHAT THEN? until I break down in tears.

Just kidding. I don’t cry. I’m too powerful.

Be warned, angry men. (It’s funny to pretend they’re actually reading this when we all know they saw the rating and skipped right to the comments section.)

But anyway, back to the garbage fire.

We kick off this rollercoaster ride of fun and excitement with about a hundred pages of worldbuilding, which would make more sense if this weren’t the SECOND BOOK IN A SERIES. A SEQUEL. We spend 20% of the book pm info dumping, when the action starts we have to pause for 25 pages to go in-depth into every single technological side effect or potential problem.

Of fictional technology.

It made me want to scoop my brain out with a melon baller. (Already regretting how gross that mental image is, but I simply must speak my truth.)

Then, once we get past what I’m calling What We Talk About When We Talk About How Not To Write Sci-Fi, we get to...well, more of that.

When we skip past the worldbuilding, we FINALLY!!! get to the quest, which is, uh. Not better.

They say if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But unfortunately we’re already 400 words in.

Once we get to the actual plot, it constantly interrupts itself to info-dump, give more nonsense explanations, and build up romantic relationships NO ONE CARES ABOUT!!! The entire reason the first book is fun is because it is almost all action.

This is...almost none action. Because the quest itself is somehow never the focal point?

Even the clues and riddles and tasks the story does focus on seem to be the most boring ones. I swear it felt like we spent 82% of this book following Aech around as she ran through Prince trivia.

Or people who actually read that section would feel that way, I imagine. I skimmed the hell out of it.

Let’s take this lovely little side path to talking about the characters.

Our main character, Wade, is super selfish and a dumbass and it sucks to read about. To put it, you know, bluntly. In the first book he can be hard to like, but I liked him, because he was dedicated and single-minded and determined and had a development arc I found compelling. Also he was doing interesting things.

In this, he has all of the stamina, backbone, and critical thinking skills of a Build-a-Bear (trademark). And not one of the ones you can put a voicebox in.

He is constantly thinking things like “What? How could this technology that enters people’s brains and controls them fully and has life-ending side effects and destroys any hope of fixing the world be bad? To me, it sounds good.”

And it’s like...didn’t we just spend an entire book doing this?

He’s also, like, a trillionaire, so instant guillotine in my book.

Wade has two friends who, unsurprisingly, seem pretty uninterested in being his friend. (Who would be?) There’s Shoto, a Japanese guy who is obsessed with all things ninja-related, and Aech, a Black girl who speaks totally differently from the other characters (“Oh! Yo! I said God damn, Shoto!”) and inexplicably breaks into hip-hop style dance moves.

Enough said, no? (See you in the comments, people who want to be angry at me for not letting straight white men write “diverse” characters by drawing on *checks notes* racial stereotypes.)

Then there’s Samantha, Wade’s love interest and a true barrel of laughs. I love a girl who is a full-on snooze. I hated this romance in the first book, and I hate it even more now that I have to read Wade thinking about losing his virginity to Samantha, featuring details on how they “couldn’t stop making love.”

So, to sum up: bad pacing, bad plot, bad worldbuilding, bad characters, bad relationships, bad morals.

Bottom line: This book should be reserved only for punishing society’s most heinous criminals.

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pre-review

let the games begin.

review to come / 1.5 stars

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currently-reading updates

people have gotten angrier at me in the comments of this review than possibly in any other i've written, and i haven't even read it yet.

let's give them something to be mad about, shall we?

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tbr review

NOTE: i wrote this review in TWO THOUSAND AND EIGHTEEN, when this book was announced. it's not a review, it's me marking it as to-read. chill the ever-living hell out.

title!!! cover!!! pub date!!!

i don't know what this book is about and i don't know why people are getting mad at me in the comments of this review but regardless things are happening!!!

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announcement review

I'M FURIOUS.

CATCH ME OUT HERE BEING: FURIOUS.

WHAT IS HAPPENING. WHY IS THIS BOOK BEING BROUGHT INTO EXISTENCE. WHO ASKED. WHO SAID, "YOU KNOW THAT PERFECT STANDALONE THAT DOESN'T NEED A SECOND BOOK? YEAH. GIVE IT A SECOND BOOK." WAS IT STEVEN SPIELBERG? JUST TELL ME. I'M NOT MAD. I JUST WANNA TALK.

i mean. i'm going to read this book. that should go without saying.

BUT I'M NOT GOING TO BE HAPPY ABOUT IT.

okay. maybe a little bit happy. okay yes i will probably be at least mostly happy BUT ALSO THERE WILL STILL BE ANGER INVOLVED.

in the immortal words of jessie j featuring B.o.B.: it's all about the money.

_ngallagher

Overall this book is fun but so disappointing it hurts. Wade Watts has become unrecognizable, the countless subplots make it hard to really feel invested in the story at large and the ending was just...............yikes. RP1 4ever.

Chelsea Humphrey

description

✨ jamieson ✨

why is the garbage man coming back

Maxwell

Where do I start with my review of Ready Player Two?

When I first read Ready Player One almost 7 years ago, I was a big fan. It was fun, fresh, exciting and unlike anything I'd read before. It's a truly enthralling adventure story with loads of references to 80's pop culture and other 'nerd' stuff that, though I may not have had a vast knowledge of, I enjoyed.

Ready Player Two follows pretty much the same arc to a tee. There's truly nothing new in this book, and if anything it soured my memory of RP1 for one major reason: Wade.

Wade is just not an interesting character. There are infinitely more fascinating characters in this story—Samantha, Aech, and Kira, for example—that would've been better protagonists. Cline tries to 'redeem' Wade for his narrow-minded, video gamer mentality in this book by doing some major retcon. It feels like he's trying to address criticism the first book, and Wade, may have received in the last 9 years since it came out. Now don't get me wrong, I am all for characters learning, growing and changing their opinions. But the way Cline doles this out on the page doesn't feel authentic. It feels like an author making moves to appease audiences or position characters in a certain way for the sake of the story, not because that's how those characters would actually exist. And at the end of the day it's still boring ole Wade projecting onto other characters or being their mouthpiece, rather than actually letting those characters tell their own story.

Aside from all that, the plot is exactly what you expect. It's another challenge that Wade, and his trusty sidekicks, have to solve because the stakes are conveniently very high. A lot of stuff in this book is convenient. There are so many dei ex machina and somehow they all serve to aid Wade and almost never harm him. Unlike real video games, the learning curves Wade faces seem to be constantly eclipsed by their encyclopedic knowledge of...basically everything they are challenging. By the 2/3 mark of the book, it's just not fun anymore.

Ultimately, my memory of RP1 is still that it's an original story that presents the reader with something fun and new to get lost in for a few hours. RP2, sadly, re-hashes all of that with worse characterization, and the redundancy of the plot makes this a far less exciting read.

Hamad

This Review ✍️ Blog ? Twitter ? Instagram ?

This is gonna be a rant review because despite having low expectations, it still managed to disappoint me. Let me quote my friend Jonathan who said “Ooh, sounds like Player 2 was most definitely not ready.”

I think book 1 was definitely a much better book despite me growing as a reader and a reviewer and having read the 2 books with 600 books in between. I don’t like it when series get extended, because let’s be honest as we all know it is usually just an excuse to milk some extra money from an already successful franchise. The author tried something new with his Armada novel which was not a big hit so as most authors do he came back to expand his already established world.

And there is a good reason why I don’t like those extensions; They are not planned so the author has to come up with something new and try to make things from book 1 sound like foreshadowing when it is not ruining both books in the process instead of only the new book and that was the case here.

I am gonna stat with the writing which I did not find anything special with. It was not bad that I wanted to DNF the book but it was bad when it came to puns, when it came to women in general and when it tried to be preachy! I will touch more on this later in the review. Also the book suffered from telling rather than showing specially at the beginning when it was slow and we just had to take everything for granted.

The characters were a hot mess, I liked the main characters in the first book, I liked that Wade was a smart underdog who worked very hard to achieve his dreams. In this book Wade is an A-hole! He is abusing the power and wealth he has, he is mean to his friends and I felt that he was stupid when it came to solving the riddles. I was like who is this person and where is Wade from book 1?! Also the cloak that he had was OP and we had to be continuously reminded how it can basically do everything! Wade’s friends who are good people where kind of shown as stupid specially Artemis.

The plot continues after the ending of book 1 and out of nowhere we have new riddles and an adventure to ensue. I thought it basically tried to mimic the events of book 1 and it did so except that it did it worse. I did not feel the characters were in any danger and there was no competition like in book 1. The references honestly felt forced in this book and I did not get most of them to be honest.

The book sounded preachy and all-inclusive in a modern since of way. The main character had to tell us that he had tried sex in all forms and in all genders and that he doesn’t care about gender (kind of). When he goes through the memories of Kira and is using her body, what do you think the first thing he notices? Yup, her boobs *Face palm*

I also had Kira’s boobs, and her hips, lips, fingertips—all of it.


Then the book criticizes Tolkien at some point for having white characters as the good guys and dark ones as villains. And I don’t know what the point was there because a whole adventure in middle earth follows that! Was it trying to make both supporters and critics happy? I don’t know! I just felt it was awkward!

Summary: This book succeeded in disappointing me although I had low expectations. The writing felt weak, the characters went through a developmental regression and everything else felt forced. I think it is game over for me with this series!

description

Blaine

A quick spoiler-free word before I begin. I’m likely the only Blaine you know. It is not a common name. So as the unofficial gatekeeper of the Blaine Hall of Fame, I am here to tell you that the Hall only has four members: Blane from the movie Pretty in Pink, Blaine from Glee, Blain from the movie Predator (the self-described “goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus” who “ain’t got time to bleed,” two lines I promise you I used a lot in my teens), and Blaine the Australian surfer who was Barbie’s boyfriend for about two years after she and Ken broke up in 2004. Yes, Blaine’s World is so small that all four of our heroes are fictional, two don’t spell their names correctly, and one is made of plastic. So I don’t know why Mr. Cline decided that he needed to take some shots at 25% of the Titans of Blaineness, but know that I am absolutely, 100%, NOT HERE FOR IT.

Ok. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest .... ?

I’ve loved Ready Player One since the first time I read it. You can read my thoughts on why that book worked so well here. Ready Player Two picks up just after the events of Ready Player One. Wade learns that James Halliday had also developed a neural interface for the OASIS, which would allow users not only more immersive experiences in the system, but would actually allow users to record real-life experiences and digitize them for others to playback and experience from a first-person perspective. The introduction of this new technology leads to a second, somewhat different contest—collecting the seven shards of the Siren’s soul—that forms the majority of the story here.

There are some things I liked about this story. The pop culture references are much broader, and not so focused on the 1980s this time. They are also a bit more about music and movies (the set pieces involving Prince and Pretty in Pink were my favorites), and less about video games. Thematically, the novel deals much more with Halliday the man, and his relationships with Ogden and Kira. While it again explores humanity escaping online from its real-world problems, it also talks about the fallibility of our heroes, the destructiveness of our social media, how tech companies misuse its customers’ data, and even Wade’s struggles in dealing with haters who attack him now that he vaulted from obscurity to worldwide fame (I could not help but wonder if that last part grew from Mr. Cline’s own dealings with fame). And on an optimistic note, the book also shows how technology can be a great tool for creating empathy for others.

However, there were some significant problems with the story. First, Wade is pretty unhappy through much of the book. I’m not saying there aren’t valid reasons, I’m just saying that his narration has the depressing feel of angsty Harry from the beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And perhaps because I’ve lived through all the same pop culture touchstones as Mr. Cline, I found the plot turns largely predictable.

But the biggest problem with this novel is probably the pacing. In Ready Player One, the clues to the keys and gates were difficult, often taking months or years to solve. During those long interludes between puzzle-solving, the book introduced characters, did its amazing world building (real-world and OASIS), and set up and resolved some conflicts. This alternation created balance, and made the solving of each puzzle feel like an event. Here, after the first shard is found, the plot uses a ticking clock scenario. Because there would be no time to research or struggle, every other clue is instantly understood by at least one character (and sometimes even by the reader). They read the clue, and someone immediately knows know where to go, what to do, and how to do it. As a result, well over half the book is just scene after scene of read clue, go to new location, explanation of what to do, watch them do it, get the next clue and repeat. It’s a format that stifles the humor, magic, and sense of wonder that grew within the breathing space provided in the first book. It also leaves little room for any character development beyond Wade, and frankly not much for him either.

I went on record that Ready Player One did not need a sequel, and I absolutely stand by that. I also said I was nervous about a sequel ruining the magic of that standalone hit. I wouldn’t go that far. Ready Player Two may lack the magic of its predecessor, but it doesn’t do anything to tarnish it. On the scale of sequels, it’s not The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather Part II, but it’s not The Hangover Part II or Caddyshack II either. This book is more like Ghostbusters 2, not as good as the original, but it has its moments.

R.K. Gold

This was easily my biggest disappointment for the year. I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One and expected the sequel to at least be an entertaining re-immersion into the promising world of the Oasis. While it offered some interesting philosophical discussion, the majority of the book felt like a rushed plot with little setup and overweighted the importance of 80s references. In the first book these references offered a unique voice, but here they felt like forced cameos on a sitcom that’s lost its way.

This book was all pay off with very little setup creating a constant sense of unfulfillment. This was a problem in the first book but the setting was so inspiring the first go around that this flaw didn’t matter as much. Now, the constant reflections on all the things the high five had done in the past being conveniently tossed into the text when the characters needed help with a challenge eliminated all tension (and without that tension it made me question what was the point in continuing a number of time).

When I say this happened on every quest, I mean every quest. The John Hughes quest Samantha knew, the learning is fun kids quest Wade remembered and dropped out of nowhere he couldn’t go back without any prior reference to it, the Prince quest Aech knew, and middle earth one Samantha again — all seven shards (except for the first) was someone in the band saying “well luckily Ive studied this piece of pop culture for years and am an expert at it so we have nothing to worry about.

The first quest offered a moment of “wow maybe things will be different this time” cause Mr. Know It All Wade had to eat some humble pie and ask for help however the “low five” band of friends showed up for like three paragraphs then conveniently arrived later in the book with a massive info dump (like literally piles of documents for the high five).

I cracked up when the all powerful sword to kill Anorak was revealed and called the dork slayer cause this book unironically made a less funny version of the south park world of warcraft quest for the sword of a thousand truths. It was one of the only moments in the book that had a setup and a payoff though so I can’t knock it beyond the premise.

In terms of technical storytelling this book had a ticking clock, elevated stakes, and a systematic removal of side characters leading up to the final showdown so the protagonist could prove they were the deserving hero all along but both of these were completely wiped out when Anorak revealed all his hostages were fine once they were unconscious and never in any real danger. So not only did we feel nothing when Aech and Shoto “died” but any sadness we could’ve felt was wiped away. This was also done when Samantha jumped from her plane and any possible nervousness we felt for her safety was quickly eliminated when she popped up a paragraph later to let everyone know she was fine then signed offline.

As for the characters falling off prior to the final showdown, it turned out Wade wasn’t even the hero who needed to prove himself. Og was. So I guess it subverted this plot structure trope but the only result was me feeling like we followed the wrong character the entire story.

There’s more I could say about this book but honestly at this point it will just be me nitpicking how much I disliked small details and I think I’ve made my point clear enough.

I really enjoyed the first book but this sequel felt like a cash grab with some interesting (but under explored) philosophical discussions thrown in

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