Well that happened.
I enjoyed RP1, though I am aware of the criticism thrown its way. It was essentially a love letter to Gen X white men but dammit it was FUN and it had an underdog protagonist you could root for. Let me quickly sum up the Ready Player Two for you; take the plot of RP1, raise the stakes but take away the fun of the first book, turn your protagonist into a petty billionaire and try to cram even more eighties and nineties trivia in there for filler and you’ve got it. It also tries to address some the issues of race and gender that critics said were lacking in the first book but it reads as if Ernest Cline read a couple articles and shoehorned them into the book. I’d have preferred he didn’t address them at all rather than have his characters parroting the same conversation about Ducky from Pretty in Pink being problematic that the rest of us have been having for 20 years now.
RP2 starts off shortly after the events of RP1 conclude. Wade Watts, now one of four CEOs of Gregarious Games (along with his 3 best friends) finds yet another quest left behind by his deceased predecessor. This time, rather than 3 Eggs he needs to find 7 shards. There is also new technology that allows users total sensory immersion into the Oasis by hooking directly into their brains. Three of the four new CEOs (with Artemis being the lone voice of dissent) seem to think this is a great idea with no real down side and implement the technology world wide. Naturally things go amiss forcing Wade and his friends to once again team up and use their knowledge of now 60 year old pop culture to save the world.
I wanted to like this book. It was my first read of 2021 and I thought it would some good, light fun after the garbage fire of last year. But it was a slog. Seven damn shards where they go to seven damn pop culture themed worlds and spend 7 damn missions reciting pop culture trivia. It’s never a good sign when you find yourself nodding along with the villain.
“Don’t you kids ever get tired of picking through the wreckage of a past generation’s nostalgia? I mean, look around. The entire OASIS is like one giant graveyard, haunted by the undead pop-culture icons of a bygone era. A crazy old man’s shrine to a bunch of pointless crap.”
Adding to this was the fact that the audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton, the poster boy of Gen X white dudes who I find grating. They should have just left us with our fond memories of RP1 and called it a day.