Ready Player Two, by Ernest Cline

Wade saved the world in Ready Player One, but the story, as it turns out, isn’t over yet.

I’ve been waiting for Ready Player Two to land for nearly a year, so when I finally got it in my hot little hands, there was NO WAY I was doing anything else until I finished reading that book. Ready Player One felt like a deliciously nerdy Odyssey, filled with all sorts of cool 80’s references and video game fun. I love that book. I read it every year.

More Nerdy Goodness

Ready Player Two was still a really good read. There was a respectably nerdy quest, and lots of time spent flitting around the Oasis, trying to find clues. There was the whole “there’s a lot at stake here so we’d better hurry” vibe too. And, of course, there’s some cute romance-y stuff between Artemis and Wade.

I genuinely liked returning to the Oasis, because it’s a neat story world to live in. There were a lot of new worlds that Cline introduces and it was cool to feel like I was seeing another unexplored part of the Oasis.

The Drift

Here’s the thing. The thing that I can’t quite stop thinking about. I mean, there’s been a lot of harsh criticism of this book (some makes a fair point, albeit pretty harshly). But that’s not really what got me. For me, it was all about the feeling of the narrative. Even though the stakes are high, Ready Player Two doesn’t quite have the same feel to it as Ready Player One. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why that was until I went back to the original.

There’s a term that writers talk about when they talk about writing without a strict plan. I think that Sarah Selecky describes it best, when she talks about writing “in the drift.” It’s that feeling of exploration as you write, and it translates really nicely into the finished product, because the reader has this delightful feeling that they are exploring too. It makes the world feel vast. It makes the plot feel exciting, because as a reader, you can’t quite guess where the story is headed. That is the feeling that Cline captures in Ready Player One. He doesn’t quite do that in Ready Player Two. Even though the Oasis is still the Oasis, the plot felt more rigid and predictable.

Did I still cheer when the High Five figured something out? Obviously, because I still loved them, even if their quest felt a little more like one of those animatronic Disney rides, than the full-on safari that Ready Player One was.

Ready Player Two is a good book. It’s still fun, and there are plenty of nerdy references. Just…don’t expect to get swept away.

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