Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is one of my favorite books. It is not intricately written prose by any means. Think more Hemingway than Longfellow or Homer. Still, it is one of my favorites, with a serious nod to the fact Ready Player absolutely is catered to someone of my tastes–a nerd from the 80s. For someone like me, Ready Player One was a book full of Member Berries.
Still, when Cline’s sequel came out last year, I did not immediately jump on Ready Player Two. By the time I had downloaded it, I had already been told to lower my expectations. I try not to read reviews or even other’s thoughts too much before I consume a work, whether it be a book, an album or a movie. But still, I had heard that from someone. I don’t even know who at this point. So, I threw Ready Player Two in my Audible list, but never skipped ahead to it.
I regret that now, because I actually thoroughly enjoyed this one too. Granted, it follows the same simple formula of the first one–guise the story as an adventure quest, mix in some moral questioning comments on modern society and where we are heading, then mention a bunch of things from our pasts that we loved. When the movie for the first one came out, I told people I enjoyed the book much more largely because it was hours of me going “I loved that thing they just mentioned.” Doesn’t make for a great movie, but it does make for okay reading.
Well, I’m hear to tell you it still works. At least it does for me. And I’m only weird in the mostly typical ways that aren’t that weird in the grand scheme of things. It is Hunger Games for 80s nerds, but hey, I’m an 80s nerd.
Ready Player Two follows immediately after Wade Watts and friends save the day in Ready Player One. It takes Watts down a different path, only to bring him back to the same schematic. Complete this quest to save the day again.
Without trying to spoil too much, Ready Player Two’s strongest Member Berries leans were D&D, John Hughes, Prince and Tolkien. All great things from my childhood, or at least largely prevalent if not great.
Both audiobooks have been ready by nerd culture deity Will Wheaton, lending consistency in performance as Wade Watts/Parzival.
The part of this book the non-nerds can get behind is the morality commentary on where we are heading as a society. The books low-key is a cautionary tale on what we have gained and lost with easy access to all the information we could need, but don’t know how to use. Have we wasted our greatest invention of the last century and turned it into a distraction that has made the world worse? The Ready Player world is set in the future, but it is not outside the realm of possibility this starts to look more like prophecy than tale in the way Idiocracy has started to look like a documentary more than a comedy. When people ask me what is the scariest movie I have ever seen, i tell them Idiocracy, because the possibility of that world existing, well, exists. Ready Player Two falls into the same kind of scary. It’s sci-fi, but also possibly.
But hey, I’m the guy who watched Super Size Me and immediately went go get a Big Mac. Reading through this book has me wanting to buy a VR headset. You can’t say I don’t live dangerously.
Anyway, whoever told me this one wasn’t as good as the first one was probably right, but it also was much closer than I was expecting going in. If you are old enough to have enjoyed enjoyed the Halftime Show at this year’s Super Bowl, then this book is for you.