It didn’t take too long to become reacquainted with Parzival, Art3mis, Aech, Shoto, and the OASIS in Ready Player Two. Once you get going, it’s not easy to stop, similar to an addiction, which is part of the discussion and joy of Ready Player Two, Ernest Cline’s much-anticipated sequel to the best-seller Ready Player One.
The book really does start just days after Ready Player One, and what’s waiting for Parzival, Wade Watts the heir to Halliday’s fortune is a technological advance that will change the course of the world, and at the same time, another Easter egg hunt from the OASIS founder is revealed hinting at an unknown prize.
That is the plot and the rest is as you would expect had you read the novel or watched the film. This is one of the few sequels I’ve read that can be picked up after reading the first book or even after just watching the first book’s film adaptation. Having consumed both versions of Ready Player One, I can say that.
And what I enjoy about this sequel is that as fantastical as the OASIS is, being a more immersive and interactive internet than we currently have, Ready Player Two doesn’t completely ignore the humanity of the characters, no matter how much time they spend inside the OASIS’s digital realm.
Wade Watts, aka Parzival is still the main character, but he has issues coming to terms with his celebrity. After winning the contest in Ready Player One, he found out a few things about himself, for example, he learned he “just wasn’t comfortable living in the spotlight” and that he was just “an awkward kid who was good at videogames and memorizing trivia” and not “mentally or emotionally equipped to have the whole world’s attention focused on” him.
That’s superb. It’s growth, it’s realism, it’s rational, and it grounds this fantastical book in some humanity that it would otherwise lack since it spends so much time with characters being their digitized avatars and not just their human selves.
And if you’re wondering about the pop culture references, they are as bountiful as they are impactful. They Might Be Giants gets another lyrical reference with “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful” which brought a smile to my face.
The Artist formerly known as Prince gets a quote that seems relevant to the whole world as much as this novel with “It’s cool to use the computer, don’t let the computer use you. . . . There is a war going on. That battlefield’s in the mind. And the prize is the soul.”
But my favorite of all the references is a Kurt Vonnegut quote from Unready to Wear “The mind is the only thing about human beings that’s worth anything. Why does it have to be tied to a bag of skin, blood, hair, meat, bones and tubes? No wonder people can’t get anything done, stuck for life with a parasite that has to be stuffed with food and protected from weather and germs all the time. And the fool thing wears out anyway – no matter how much you stuff and protect it.”
If you enjoyed the first book, if you enjoyed the movie, then absolutely read Ready Player Two, or get the audiobook, which like Ready Player One is again narrated by Wil Wheaton. Now, I know what many may be thinking, will there be a Ready Player Three?
Personally, I’m more interested in Armada II, but I’d be game to catch up with the OASIS for the third time.