Ready Player Two - back to the OASIS for another egg hunt
Ready Player One was a fun sci-fi adventure that became a favorite of gamers everywhere, including myself, and it went on to also become a successful movie directed by Steven Spielberg. With so few good gamer centric novels being written I was instantly worried when I saw this sequel was in the works because I felt there would be no way for Ernest Cline to recapture the magic of the first book. Sure he could load up another novel with a ton of pop culture trivia but it was the magic of the giant Easter egg hunt with a fortune at stake that truly captured one's imagination. So I went into this one with trepidation, and while it is not as good as the original, it was able to grab my attention with all of the tantalizing possibilities of where gaming and technology might go in the future.
Wade Watts discovers that James Halliday left him not just his fortune and his company, but also a surprise with the possibility of changing the world. A piece of technology known as an Oasis Neural Interface (ONI) which is a headset that allows the wearer to experience the OASIS in a whole new way. This headset interfaces directly to a user's brain and it allows both the OASIS and other people's ONI recordings to be experienced as if they were all real. There are limitations, like a strict 12 hour time limit per day before brain damage sets in, but beyond that a user can experience what it is like to be someone else and safely do what they do. Extremely dangerous adventures, addictive drug use, risky and exotic sexual experiences can all now be tried out through the ONI headset at no physical risk to the user. However, Halliday chose not to release the technology for fear that the world wasn't ready for it. Now it is up to Wade and his fellow co-owners to decide what to do with it.
The ONI headset leads to a new contest, this one with the fates of millions of people at stake, and the book tries to recapture the magic of that original Easter egg hunt. For me it didn't come close and I wish Cline would have chosen different stakes for his new contest, but the ONI itself is what carried the day. The possibilities of such a device and the impact it could have ojn the world was intriguing and that is what made this book worth reading. So if you miss the OASIS and want a reason to log back in then you shouldn't hesitate to pick this one up.
The audiobook is once again read by WIl Wheaton and while he doesn't do a lot of different voices like other narrators he is still a good fit for this material.