Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
Wade Watts doesn't have time to settle down and enjoy life after his big win - another hunt has been unlocked for Halliday's heir and there will be a toll to pay if he pursues it. And this time his pop culture knowledge may not actually be enough to save the day.
I adore the music and movies of the 1980s, so Ernest Cline's books are like crack to me. Wade traipsing around a whole world full of John Hughes' movies? Be still my beating heart. But Ready Player One and Armada had problems that grated on me. I'm not talking about Cline's less-than-fantastic prose (which, honestly, isn't an issue considering how much fun the books are). I'm talking about the female characters and the diversity problems.
After being disappointed so many times by male authors refusing to grow and continuing to treat female characters as afterthoughts, objects, or complete trash (here's looking at you, Jim Butcher), I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Cline actually put in the effort to address the problems from the first book. Is it perfect? Well, no. But Ready Player Two might be my favourite book of Cline's, because he didn't ignore a large portion of his readers. This book is not just for CIS white dudes.
Yep, I outright cackled when John Hughes' world got called out for being very white. And I think about the ending to Pretty in Pink practically every week lol. I think I'll re-read this book a lot.
Alyce Caswell, when she isn't buried in a book or drinking her way through a giant pot of tea, is a keen writer of science fiction and romance. She has published two novels and four novellas in her space opera family saga, The Galactic Pantheon Series.