I have some mixed feelings about “Ready Player Two,” Ernest Cline’s follow-up to his debut novel. The story picks up exactly where the first book left off, just days after Wade Watts, aka Parzival wins James Halliday’s Easter Egg contest and becomes the new owner of the OASIS, the interactive virtual reality world.
Something Halliday left to Parzival when he died is a new VR rig that connects with the user’s brain to not only allow the user to see the virtual world but now experience the world with all of their remaining senses for a complete new whole body immersive experience. There were decades of research ongoing on the project prior to Halliday’s death and he leaves the decision to open “Pandora’s Box” to Watts’, his heir. After experiencing the OASIS in a brand new way, he immediately decides to share it with the entire world.
To this point the story was really intriguing and the various pieces of fan fiction of 80s trivia, etc. that was present in the original book was all clicking. But about midway through the book the plot gets off track. Other well worn tropes in the sci-fi genre overlap, there’s another quest which drones on for far too long, and the middle part of this book became a struggle to get through.
The only thing that “saved” this book for me was the ending. I am not going to spoil it for anyone but I liked how the book ends and some of the lingering questions it brings up about virtual reality, consciousness, and even the eternal existence of the mind. I think, overall, if Cline did a better job streamlining the middle of this book and stayed on a linear path, it would have been better. For fans of the first novel, I would recommend the book. It would also be a fun book to discuss with friends over a beer at your local pub.