Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline - Enter The Matrix!

I first heard about the Ready Player One hype when they announced that a movie was coming out. I read the book first, and really enjoyed it. I watched the movie next, and I daresay that the movie was as good as the book!

Ernest Cline fell off my radar for the next few years. It wasn’t until the Summer of COVID that I found out that he had written another novel, Armada.

Like everything else in 2020, Armada was a huge disappointment. The story was much more cliche and derivative than I expected. In fact, the entire plot was plagiarized from The Last Starfighter, and Cline doesn’t even try to hide this fact. The book is peppered with mysterious little clues that the author forgets to pay off. I was prepared to write off Cline as a one-hit wonder.

But I gave Ready Player Two a shot, anyway. And I’m glad I did. Cline returns to his original formula of 80s nostalgia in an MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game) setting. The 80s references were much more focused in this book, which might alienate readers who haven’t binge-watched all of the John Hughes movies or collected all of the Prince albums.

But I’m pretty sure you’ll have fun reading it. Check out my in-depth Ready Player Two review and see if this two-book series is something you need to get into!

Ready Player Two Summary

If you read the first book, you might find that the second book starts the same way. The protagonist, Wade, is searching through an Easter Egg scavenger hunt left behind by the game creator, James Halliday.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers for the twists, turns, and action that makes this book different from the first. You’ll have to read it for yourself!

Better Than The First Book: Higher Stakes!

Ready Player One was exciting, no doubt. It was about a scavenger hunt, and race to find clues, so that the winner can inherit a giant global game platform.

But Ready Player Two turns the tension up to ELEVEN.

The giant global game platform has transitioned to virtual reality, and players are now fully immersing their consciousness through a neural uplink. Only a few stubborn players refuse to plug their brains into a video game (one of whom is Wade’s love interest from the first book, Samantha).

As it turns out, those stubborn resistors may be the only people who survive this story. A rogue AI (artificial intelligence) reprograms the game platform and locks all of the players’ conscious minds in the game. If that wasn’t dire enough, the neural link can cause irreparable brain damage after 12 hours of connection!

Can Wade and his friends trick the AI into setting everyone free before the 12-hour time limit? Or after eleven hours, is Wade already feeling the effects of the impending brain damage?

What’s Worse Than The First: The Clues

Cline is a huge fan of the 80s, that has always been clear. But where Ready Player One demonstrated the full breadth of his 80s expertise, the sequel focuses on just a few pop culture memories.

I thought I had watched most of the John Hughes movies, but even I got lost during the quest for Pretty In Pink. And I’ve never been a Prince fan (in fact, I’ve always enjoyed Morris Day and the Times, and never realized they were mortal enemies) so I skipped a bunch of pages during the quest on Purple Rain Planet.

And the first person protagonist, Wade, doesn’t personally solve most of the mysteries. He relies on his friends to help him. While this is an admirable character trait, it’s not as interesting to read about how Aech “fiddled with the combination on the safe.”

The Recommendation: 4 / 5 Stars.

Bottom line: If you liked Ready Player One, you will still love Ready Player Two. The nostalgia and 80s memories are still strong, the action and relationship struggles are as good as ever, and the stakes in this book are actually much more desperate and exciting.

Skip over Armada, though. You can get much more enjoyment out of watching The Last Starfighter.

What did you think of Ready Player Two? Let us know in the comments below (but keep them spoiler-free, please, for everyone else)! And don’t forget to subscribe using the e-mail form at the bottom of the page. And please share this article with your book-loving sci-fi fandom friends!

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