First Impression Friday: “Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One was one of my favorite books when I first discovered it a few years ago – and then I read back through it a few years later and realized that it was actually incredibly misogynistic and the only reason people liked it is because of the insane amount of 80s references that cline has stuffed into the book. I liked the movie that was released, but only if you didn’t think it was based on a book. So why did I decide to pick up Ready Player Two? I wanted to see if Cline could tell a convincing story about giving the control of what’s essentially the entire world over to a teenager to see what happens.

From GoodReads:

Days after Oasis founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday’s vault, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the Oasis a thousand times more wondrous, and addictive, than even Wade dreamed possible. With it comes a new riddle and a new quest. A last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who will kill millions to get what he wants. Wade’s life and the future of the Oasis are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.

Ready Player Two starts off nine days after Parzival has won Halliday’s game and gotten the silver egg. He’s now the CEO of Halliday’s company and has the power to do what he wants to with the OASIS – as long as he’s got the other three co-CEOs on his side (who are all conveniently away on vacation at the start of the novel). The big reveal in the first chapter is that Halliday left behind a sensory device for the OASIS – you can feel what your avatar feels, etc. This threw up a huge red flag for me, and indeed the book threw it up, too, with actual quotes being “forcibly removing the headset while it was in operation could severely damage the wearer’s brain and/or leave them in a permanent coma” and “a sudden power loss could also cause potential harm to the wearer’s brain, which is why it had an internal backup battery to power the device long enough to complete an emergency logout sequence and safely awaken the wearer from the artificial sleeplike state it placed them in while the headset was in use.”

Um, back up right now. Upon seeing those warnings, our good hero should have locked the headset back away in the vault or handed it over to the researchers to see if they could figure out how to make it safer, but what does he do right away? He puts it on.

I’m predicting very Sword Art Online vibes incoming (or Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, if you can remember that far back!). There is no way this can end well. Not to mention that the device is literally called the ONI, like the Japanese demons (like Parzival so helpfully mentions).

And this is just the prologue – which covers the first two full years after the new owners of the OASIS vote to release the ONI, leading to more people spending time online than ever before, and then a new riddle from Halliday – regarding the Siren’s Seven Shards – is released. And as Parzival says, choosing to find those shards leads him to destroy everything he holds dear. So I’m greatly interested in seeing this man mess up.

And as always, keep reading.

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