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Ernest Cline Reveals That Ready Player Two Has the Same Damn Plot as Ready Player One

Oh it’s you again. A scene from Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One adaptation.
Oh it’s you again. A scene from Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One adaptation.
Image: Warner Bros.

Get ready for a “wildly original” journey into déjà vu. Ernest Cline has shared new plot details about Ready Player Two, his long-awaited follow-up novel for Ready Player One. Maybe it’s commentary. Maybe it’s laziness. But either way, this book sounds like the same damn thing we already got.

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Cline shared the book cover and first details for Ready Player Two during a panel at New York Comic Con. Some fans thought it was going to be a story centered around Art3mis, Wade’s love interest from the first book who fell into several tropes of the “perfectly imperfect nerdy girl.” But instead it looks like we’re diving back into Wade Watt’s story again.

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Here’s the synopsis:

Days after winning OASIS founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday’s vaults, 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’ll 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.

Lovingly nostalgic and wildly original as only Ernest Cline could conceive it, Ready Player Two takes us on another imaginative, fun, action-packed adventure through his beloved virtual universe, and jolts us thrillingly into the future once again.

That’s right: There’s a second Easter egg from James Halliday that’ll change the fabric of virtual reality forever. Not only that, again there’s an overpowered nemesis who will stop at nothing to control the OASIS for himself. And since it’s all about Halliday, a man who was obsessed with everything 1980s, any chance of venturing into fandoms outside of Halliday’s (and, by extension, Cline’s) lens seems highly unlikely. Unless Halliday had a secret obsession with Clueless and the Backstreet Boys that we never knew about.

You’d think that with nine years to work on this sequel, Cline would’ve been able to come up with an original story that doesn’t cut-and-paste so many of the elements that made his first one a success. It feels incredibly hollow. But maybe I’m wrong. Cline could be holding some cards close. Perhaps it’s a commentary on the nature of nostalgia itself—how often we repeat the same stories because we find them more comforting than trying something new. But my guess is he went with, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.” Even though it kind of is broken—the nostalgia that made Ready Player One such a hit doesn’t exist in 2020. We’ve all moved on. It’ll be sad if Ready Player Two can’t as well.

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Ready Player Two comes out on November 24.

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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

I'll admit to finding the original passable enjoyable when I first read it, but it has aged very poorly. Even then, I questioned who it was for. YA nostalgia for the 80's is kind of an oxymoron.