Ready Player Two
|Audio read by||Wil Wheaton|
|Subject||Video games, virtual reality, science fiction|
|Genre||LitRPG, Pop Culture Fiction, Science fiction, dystopian|
|November 24, 2020|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback), e-book, audiobook|
|Preceded by||Ready Player One|
Ready Player Two is a 2020 science fiction novel by American author Ernest Cline. It is the sequel to his 2011 debut novel Ready Player One. Plans for a Ready Player One sequel were first announced back in 2015, though Cline did not begin writing the book until late 2017. Cline attributes further developments to the critical and financial success of the film adaptation of the first novel released in 2018. Ready Player Two was published and released on November 24, 2020. It debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Seller list. The novel received widely negative reviews on release. Critics expressed disappointment in the story, writing and poor usage of references saying that it failed to expand in "new and exciting ways" on the original with many taking note of excessive similarities to Sword Art Online and other popular media in the plot. A film adaptation is in development.
In 2015, in an interview with Den of Geek, screenwriter Zak Penn, who wrote the film adaptation of Ready Player One, reported that Ernest Cline was working on a sequel to the original novel. In December 2017, Cline confirmed that he was working on a sequel. Cline stated that the novel would have a different story-line involving all of the characters, while still exploring pop culture references like the first book. Cline announced further developments following the film adaptation of the first novel and cited its critical and financial success, as well as the studio's interest in adapting a sequel, as additional motivation to finish what he had started. Cline later stated that Steven Spielberg contributed to the writing process of the book. Ready Player Two was published and released on November 24, 2020. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Wil Wheaton would do the audio recording for the book, as he had for Ready Player One. A "treasure hunt" promoting the book was held on the video game Roblox.
After the events of the first novel, the High Five have scattered across the globe: Aech is on vacation in Senegal, Shoto has taken over operations at GSS's Hokkaido division and Samantha has flown back to Vancouver to pack up her belongings and say bye to her grandmother. To keep himself busy, Wade decides to test out his new superuser abilities. Wade finds an inscription on Halliday's Easter egg and after following directions, he finds the first operational ONI (OASIS Neural Interface) headset. However, it can only be used for twelve hours a day to prevent death by Synaptic Overload Syndrome. After testing it out, he contacts Aech and Shoto of his findings and they both try it out. Samantha however, is furious and argues with Wade about the headset's capabilities and breaks up with him especially after realizing that their argument is being recorded. The High Five all start their own charity businesses. Three years pass. Aech, Shoto, and Wade build a spaceship christened Vonnegut and upload a standalone copy of the OASIS which they call ARC@DIA.
The ONI headsets start selling fast allowing GSS to shutdown IOI. A new riddle appears. The riddle is about finding Seven Shards to restore the "Siren's Soul". Wade has trouble finding them, so he offers a billion-dollar bounty for whoever can give him information on the shards. GSS employee Faisal Sodhi calls for a GSS co-owners meeting as people keep hacking the ONI headsets to exceed the twelve hour usage limit. Art3mis turns up as well and proposes to put an age-restriction on the ONI headsets, leading to another argument (it is here that we learn that her grandmother died of pancreatic cancer). She loses the vote and logs out. An androgynous gunter named L0hengrin/Skylar Castillo Adkins, a member of a clan called the L0w Five (alongside fellow gunters Lilith, Wukong, Rizzo and Kastagir) finds the First Shard and Wade experiences one of Kira Morrow's memories: her creating her first piece of digital artwork. For her/his help, L0hengrin receives the billion dollar prize from Wade, and she shares it with her clan.
Ogden Morrow disappears after Wade obtains the First Shard and GSS employee Miles Gendell tells Wade that Nolan Sorrento has broken out of prison. Another meeting is called. Faisal, who is organizing the meeting turns out to be Anorak, an AI copy of James Halliday. Anorak steals back his Robes. Wade realizes that he broke Sorrento (who is seen with a captive Og) out of prison. Anorak demands that the High Five give him the Siren's Soul or they will die of Synaptic Overload Syndrome (except Art3mis who is using ordinary OASIS equipment). Anorak reveals that the ONI users can't log out unless he gets what he wants. He crashes Art3mis's private jet but she turns out to have survived.
The High Five find the next three shards on Kodama, Shermer and Halcydonia. Before they can find the Fifth Shard, Faisal calls them back to GSS Headquarters where he reveals that Anorak has altered the behavior of the NPCs so that they can kill off other avatars (in both PvP and non-PvP zones) and loot their inventory which they bring to Anorak. The L0w Five appear revealing that the NPCs are looking for Og's Anorak-killing supersword, the Dorkslayer. Together, they find out that the Siren's Soul is a digital copy of Og's late wife, Leucosia and that Anorak wants the Siren's Soul so he can resurrect and fall in love with her and escape with her on board the Vonnegut. The L0w Five decide to go on a quest to find the sword. Art3mis logs out to go and protect Og. Wade apologizes to her about the ONI, and she accepts his apology. Before leaving, she kisses his forehead — a sign that their relationship is healing.
Aech, Shoto and Wade find the Fifth Shard on Afterworld, a world dedicated to Prince, but they have to battle seven incarnations of the singer, during which Shoto is killed off. Aech and Wade journey to Arda I to find the Sixth Shard but Aech is killed and Wade takes damage from poison during a fight with Carcharoth, but Art3mis arrives and saves Wade and they obtain the Sixth Shard. Wade obtains the last shard on Chthonia and steals back Anorak's Robes. Wade and Samantha find Og with Sorrento. Anorak operates a telebot and uses its guns to destroy Sorrento, but Sorrento fatally wounds Og. Og dons an ONI headset and does battle with Anorak. Just before he can be defeated, L0hengrin arrives with the Dorkslayer, which Og uses to destroy Anorak, freeing all of the ONI hostages. Og dies seconds later, and Wade logs out of the OASIS but loses consciousness and wakes up 15 hours later in a GSS hospital bay.
Wade logs back into the OASIS and reassembles the shards, resurrecting Leucosia who gives him an artifact called the Rod of Resurrection which allows the users to resurrect an ONI user as a digital person, even if the user is already dead. Wade makes copies of the whole human race including his friends, himself, Samantha's grandma, Ogden Morrow and the rest of the L0w Five. He sends them off to Proxima Centauri, on board the Vonnegut. Shoto and his wife, Kiki have a baby boy and they name him Little Daito. Aech marries Bollywood singer, Endira. Wade and Samantha marry and are expecting a baby girl which they plan to name Kira after Og's late wife.
The novel had a negative reception. Amit Katwala of Wired labeled the novel a "tedious slog through arcane pop culture references sprinkled in [lazily]," calling it "something that’s very similar to the first book, but much more grating the second time around." Samantha Nelson of The A.V. Club and Tom Jorgensen of IGN gave Ready Player Two a C- and 4/10 respectively, with the latter saying that "inside jokes and clear reverence toward the material keep [it] from feeling like a total misfire" but ended by saying that there is "little heart to be found." Felecia Wellington Radel of USA Today also called it a dissatisfying sequel.
Cline's writing was notably negatively received. In his review for Wired, Katwala stated "an AI could write a better book," remarking that "Cline is back with a sequel that has all the same flaws as the original, but few of its plus sides."
An aspect that was noted but disparaged heavily was Cline's treatment of women, race, culture, and identity in regards to gender. Radel stated: "It feels more like geekery gatekeeping than a showing off of knowledge and attempts to display diversity in the race and gender identity of the characters rings hollow, almost offensive. In the sequel, making a point of saying a character could be trans or is black or gay or Japanese and then assigning stereotypical phrases...then never addressing it again does not equal inclusion." Laura Hudson from Slate noted a sexist undertone to Ready Player Two in the novel's treatment of women: "[There is] the idea that after reliving the recorded memories of women, supposedly clueless men experience a moment of enlightenment and now realize that women are people. It never occurs to [Wade] that he also could have come to the same conclusion about [Halliday's misogyny] by using the greatest empathy machine of all, his brain, and running the...program that is listening to other people and believing them about their experiences."
Readers heavily mocked it upon its first day of release, causing Ready Player Two to trend on Twitter when highly favorited threads chided passages for their perceived pandering and poor prose. Andy Ihnatko commented that "The opening page is what it's like to be stuck on a four hour flight next to a little kid who wants to tell you knock-knock jokes the whole time."
In November 2017, Cline acknowledged that the resurgence in his motivation to write Ready Player Two was due to working on the first film's script, as well as its successes both financially and critically. The author stated that a sequel may be desired by the film studio. By March 2018, Cline reiterated this, stating, "I think there's a good chance that, if [Ready Player One] does well, Warner Bros. will want to make a sequel. I don't know if Steven [Spielberg] would want to dive back in, because he would know what he is getting into. He's said that it's the third-hardest film he's made, out of dozens and dozens of movies". Co-star Olivia Cooke is contractually attached to return in sequels. The cast and crew also want that to be a possibility as seen in an interview a while back when the movie was made. Director Steven Spielberg says this is a possibility but it can not happen anytime soon. In December 2020, Cline confirmed that a film adaption was in the early stages of development.
Notes and references
- "Ernest Cline confirms he's writing a 'Ready Player One' sequel". EW.com. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- Evans, Greg (8 July 2020). "'Ready Player Two' Sequel Novel Set For November Publication Date". Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- "Combined Print & E-Book Fiction - Best Sellers - Books". The New York Times. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
- Houghton, Rianne (2020-12-22). "Ready Player Two movie is in the works despite brutal reviews". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
- "Ready Player Two Attempts, But Fails, to Reach the Next Level". io9. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
- "Ready Player Two Is an AWFUL Lot Like Sword Art Online". CBR. 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
- Spry, Jeff. "'Ready Player Two' movie is in "early stages," Ernest Cline reveals". Inverse. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
- Sequel citations:
- "Ernie Cline Reportedly Writing Ready Player One Sequel". slashfilm.com. January 16, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
- "Ready Player One Is Getting A Sequel". cinemablend.com. January 16, 2015. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
- "READY PLAYER ONE Sequel Rumored To Be In The Works - Nerdist". nerdist.com. January 25, 2015. Archived from the original on April 23, 2017. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
- Knight, Jacob (December 12, 2017). "Ernie Cline Penning A Sequel Novel To READY PLAYER ONE". birthmoviesdeath.com. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
- "Ready Player One sequel: Everything you need to know". Digital Spy. 2018-09-13. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
- "Ready Player One Book Sequel Coming with Spielberg's Input". ComingSoon.net. 11 December 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
- "'Ready Player Two' Sets Wil Wheaton to Narrate Audiobook". Retrieved August 17, 2020.
- Fleming, Mike Jr. (November 23, 2020). "'Ready Player Two' Launches With Virtual Treasure Hunt On Roblox". Deadline. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
- D’Alessandro, Anthony. "'Ready Player Two': Author Ernest Cline Reveals Plot Details At New York Comic Con". Deadline. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
- "The first reviews for 'Ready Player Two' are in: "A tedious slog"". NME | Music, Film, TV, Gaming & Pop Culture News. 2020-12-01. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
- Katwala, Amit (2020-11-28). "Ready Player Two is a warning about artificial intelligence. An AI could write a better book". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
- "Ready Player Two can't fix the problems of the original". AUX. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
- Ready Player Two Review - IGN, retrieved 2020-12-22
- Radel, Felecia Wellington. "'Ready Player Two' review: Ernest Cline's sequel doesn't quite satisfy". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
- Hudson, Laura (2020-12-01). "Ready Player Two Is a Horror Story but Doesn't Know It". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
- "Ready Player Two Fan Reactions Are Here - and It Looks Like 'Game Over'". CBR. 2020-11-24. Retrieved 2021-02-06.
- "https://twitter.com/ihnatko/status/1331134984485302272". Twitter. Retrieved 2021-06-19. External link in
- "372 Pages We'll Never Get Back – Conor Lastowka and Michael J. Nelson are reading books they're pretty sure they're going to hate. Read along with us for a podcast book clubs of Ready Player One, Armada, The Eye of Argon, Dan Brown, and more!". Retrieved 2021-02-06.
- Radish, Christina (March 29, 2018). "Ernest Cline on 'Ready Player One', Working with Spielberg, and Hopes for a Sequel". Collider. Complex Media. Archived from the original on March 31, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- Moran, Sarah (March 30, 2018). "Ready Player Two? It Could Happen – And The First Movie May Tease It". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on March 31, 2018. Retrieved April 1, 2018.
- "Ready Player One Star Is Signed On For Sequels". Archived from the original on August 24, 2018. Retrieved August 24, 2018.