Tag Archives: Ernest Cline

Review: Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, #2)

While I loved Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One upon first reading, a subsequent reading didn’t do it any favors.

So, I have to admit I was a bit wary when I heard Cline was headed back to that RP1 universe with Ready Player Two. I wanted to believe that Cline could somehow capture the lightning in the bottle of my first reading of RP1.

Alas, I’m here to report that he couldn’t.

In many respects Ready Player Two is just a retelling of the story from Ready Player One. Yes, the stakes (such as they are) have been raised a bit, but it’s essentially the same story one more time — Wade Watts is given a task in which he must save civilization as we know it, via a contest put in place by Oasis founder, James Halliday. But where the first third of Ready Player One was about world-building and getting us to like Wade, the first third of Ready Player Two is about transforming Wade into an insufferable jerk, who by the time the quest begins I found myself wishing that something terrible would happen to him. Where Wade was relatable in the first book, he becomes unbearable in this one, with long passages that seem simply put in to prove he’s the world’s biggest expert on everything that has ever existed in pop culture.

At several points, I felt like I’d wandered down a bad sub-Reddit or YouTube thread, inhabited by those who believe they know better than the creative people creating content about what a particular franchise needs or wants instead of reading a novel. This may be why it took me so long to wade through the book (pun fully intended here) and why finishing it seemed like such a chore. Look, I wanted to believe in this book and to enjoy it. It just never happened.

This makes two novels in the last few months that I picked up on the basis of the author’s first book and came away disappointed by. At this point, it may be best to relegate Cline and Andy Weir to the status of one-hit wonders and not on the automatic “must-read” lead I placed them on after their first offerings.

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Re-Visiting Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player OneWith the movie finally hitting screens and since my sf/f bookclub picked it for our next book, I’ve revisited Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. This time around, I decided to give the audio version a whirl. And while Wil Wheaton is spot-on in bringing the book to life in audio, I still found myself coming away from the novel feeling a bit satisfied.

While most of the geeky 80’s references hold up fairly well, I couldn’t help but feel like this book with all style and no substance the more I listened. While I enjoyed the references, I found myself yearning for something more to the novel that what I walked away this time. This time around, the novel reminded me of books I read based on several InfoCom games (they gave us Zork and other interactive text games back in the day). They were fun, but not necessarily all that filling. And in the end, they left me wanting to go back and play the games again rather than continue reading the novel.

Ready Player One feels like it’s all style and little substance here. And this time around, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a bit too predictable for its own good. (Some of this could be that I’ve read it before, but honestly I’d forgotten a lot of the specific story points in the seven or so years since I last read it). I’m not sure if this says more about me as a reader or the novel itself. Or it could be a bit of both.

I was struck this time by the predictable nature of the plot, the lack of any real depth for the characters, and the glaring lack of any strong, female characters in the book.

Again, I can’t say that I didn’t love it back in the day. I did. But I probably should have let my memory continue to cheat into remembering how much I’d enjoyed it then. Instead, I’ve come away feeling that this novel was one that had so much potential that just wasn’t realized.

If you want to visit my original review of the book, you’ll find it HERE.

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