The dystopian ode to nostalgia and pop culture references is returning. Ready Player One author Ernest Cline has a release date for Ready Player Two, his book sequel that’s been in the works for years… and enters a world that’s kinda over the whole thing.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ballantine Books (under Penguin Random House) has announced a release date of November 24 for Ready Player Two. The plot is currently being kept under wraps — all we know is that Cline previously said he actively worked to make sure it didn’t come across like a sequel to the 2018 movie directed by Steven Spielberg.
Instead, of course, it’s the book sequel to 2011’s bestseller Ready Player One, about a nerdy teen named Wade Watts who escapes his dystopian reality by spending most of his time in a virtual world called the Oasis. Players like Wade are engaged in an epic fight to solve Anorak’s Game, created by Oasis inventor James Halliday, with the winner gaining control over the entire virtual system. Spoilers: It’s Wade Watts, because who else would it be. Not Wade?
The book came at a time when 1980s nostalgia was on the rise, with shows like Stranger Things, Fuller House, and The Goldbergs riding the coattails of millennial flashbacks. But just like the 1980s, Ready Player One feels like a relic of another time. When the story of a white male nerd who saves the universe with pop culture references, accompanied by some trope sidekicks, wasn’t indicative of the larger systemic problem of racism and sexism in nerd culture. A problem that makes it harder each time to go back and read the book without seeing all the ways it enables the worst forms of nerdy entitlement for the select few.
It’s been almost a decade since Ready Player One came out, and five years since Cline’s follow-up Armada. It’s possible Cline has learned and grown since then, especially given his work on the 2018 film, and Ready Player Two could be a sign of how he and nerd culture have to change with the times. But it could end up being more of the same thing — and I think a lot of us are tired of that.
Ready Player Two is available for pre-order, and comes out November 24.