Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
So I come to this sequel with a trepidatious heart because so many people who were big fans of the first book came away hugely disappointed with the second. I even postponed my read because I didn't want a downer in my life.
I think, maybe, I should have just listened to myself. Just judge the book on its own merits.
If I had, I'd probably have been surprised by how much fun I had. Yes, fun. I mean, seriously, the titles are riffs on COMPUTER GAME STUFF. Should we be at all surprised if both books read like computer games within computer games, from the VR rigs to the virtual worlds to the society that is so bummed out that it feels like the only way out is through escapism? Seriously? So, YEAH, I get my full-on LitRPG vibes from one of the first to do LitRPG well and it's a bit more vast than the standard LitRPG fare. Plus, it has all the 80's nostalgia you might expect from RPO even if it's not quite as fun as the first.
So, here's the nitty-gritty. I didn't like the choice of going back to all the John Hughes movies when there are still many other great things in the '80s he COULD have gone back to. It wasn't horrible by a long shot, however. When he went the way of Prince, I was pretty much eeeeeehhhhhh until the final battle and that was freaking awesome so I gave it a pass for sheer goofy weirdness. When we went to the First Age of Arda, for all us Tolkien fans, I was TOTALLY DOWN FOR THIS RIDE and I totally geeked out when we got to play as Beren and Luthien. It's not even all that '80s and I didn't care. It was cool.
As for Wade, the character, he was the same dipshit he was in the first book. Money just makes a jerk MORE of a jerk. I wasn't surprised by anything he did and no one reading this ought to be, either. That's not the point. The point is we get to play games and have huge stakes and it lives up to that hype.
So, was there anything else I had an issue with?
Well, yeah, there was, but it's not like it's a deal-breaker. It just means it was more of the usual. Fans of the genre will know what I mean if I mention .Hack or Sword Art Online. Just add a little H.A.L. or the girl from the Umbrella Corp and a 12 hour or die quest and I've basically summed up the book.
Did I mention it isn't a deal-breaker? Just because it's using an old plot theme that has been done a million times and is absolutely cliche in LitRPG now doesn't mean it isn't fun. It absolutely is. Originality is not the end-game, here.
And it succeeds on this level.
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