Ready Player Two Review
I really enjoyed this book, but to be honest that is in a big part thanks to listening to Wil Wheaton read it to me. I mean, seriously, he is the best choice for a narrator for these books. With that said, I did not love it. Not five stars loved it. But I did enjoy the experience. So, here goes, the good and the bad.
The good stuff: More cultural nerd referencing than the common person can handle. A planet dedicated to John Hughes films. Oh yes, I could spend time there. Mentions of Sword Art Online and The Matrix to tell why the ONI (insert Japanese demon reference) headsets are bad for people couple with using Skynet as a verb really tickled my geek bone. As in the first book, Ready Player Two reference Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs constantly, along with Lord of the Rings being prominently featured in a replica of Rivendell in a manmade valley of Imladris; not to mention the planets built within the Oasis to represent and immerse players in the different ages of Middle-earth.
All of this points to world building. And the world building is good. Kind of. The problem here is that the story, instead of being a story, is far too much world building for a sequel. I understand and appreciate that in a book like this, which is laid out like playing an MMO, each new location needs a bit of world building. But it was a bit much. Still, I list the world building as a positive because I’m a super nerd and I loved the references. That’s what brought me back from the first book.
The next thing that I really like was the needle drop points. I don’t remember if this was a thing in the first book, but I really thought it was cool that upon completing a step in a quest, the music would be triggered to change. That really help keep me grounded in the fantasy buried within the sci-fi.
And of course, as state above, the references. The sheer number of nerdgasms loaded into the easter eggs in this book is amazing. The easter eggs in this case are personally related to one woman’s life, and not all of 80’s pop culture, and thankfully that woman was Kira Morrow, who was an ultimate geek.
Some of the nerdy references I recall right now:
Sega (specifically Sega Ninja)
The Silmarillion and all that book entails
Planet Shermer—the abovementioned planet of John Hughes films
The Afterworld—a planet dedicated to Prince, or the Artist formerly known as Prince
Back to the Future
There were more. Many more.
Now, the bad stuff: As mentioned above, too much world building for a sequel. We knew what the Oasis was coming out of Ready Player One.
Nobody cares about the romantic feelings Wade has for Samantha. We didn’t care in the first book. (However, I did like the love story between Og and Kira.)
The Seven Shards quest, while cool in its own way, was a step down from the quest in the first book.
Info dumps. I don’t want to say more about this, but I must. While Mr. Cline’s knowledge of all things geek is impressive, info dumps are always bad in stories. Always. Anyone who reads Ready Player Two will see what I mean.
This book had far less action than the first. Mostly, this was following the characters around listening to them talk. And there was far too much time spent following Aech around listening to her spout off random Prince trivia questions. The Prince world was cool, and I’m glad it was in there, but there was far too much of it.
The characters aren’t great. In the first book, I thought they were okay. Wade was likable enough to go on the journey with him and watch him develop. Now he’s a spoiled, selfish rich kid who seems to lack common sense and critical thinking skills. The two attributes that got him through Halliday’s first quest.
All in all, not great, but not terrible. I liked it enough that I will read a third if a third is published. Well, not read it; but I will listen to Wil Wheaton read it.