Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Ready Player Two, Ernest Cline
Crossings, Alex Landragin
Ready Player Two: If you liked Ready Player One, which I think was better, then you'll probably like this sequel. The story starts soon after the end of the first story. The MC has won a game that makes him the heir to a tech billionaire who owned a company that runs something like a ubiquitous VR game. He gets a message about a new invention that makes the game seem even more real. It splits the group up, and all this happens before the main action gets started.
Some of this seemed bonkers to me (a whole planet devoted to John Hughes, seems excessive), but when they got to a Tolkien planet, I was really excited. It's all about geeking out. I'm not a gamer, but this book had me hooked. I read almost all of it in one day off. It gets a little bogged down by questions about AI and brain scan ethics. There's also some income inequality debate that feels a little forced. (BIG SPOILER: In the first book, the MC wins a fortune and divides it with a few people who helped him, then there's disagreement in the group about what to do with it.) But it's a great adventure story.
Crossings: This was more impressive than enjoyable for me, but it was very, very impressive. It's written as three connected stories that can be read in order, or you can follow a pagination that guides you through them as one novel. It sounds like it would be gimmicky or confusing, but it was neither. It was so interesting to see how it would fit together, and there was a mystery in it, so that kept it moving along. I picked up another book about halfway through and alternated because this one was a little heavy, but it's good. I don't usually like books that use real people as characters in fiction, but it didn't sink the book for me. One of the characters is the poet Charles Baudelaire. I didn't know much about him, so I looked him up, but you don't have to know anything about him to get the book, I think.
These are very different books. One is about exploring around a seemingly endless virtual world, and the other is about people who are exploring this world over lifetimes. I liked them both. I usually read more fantasy and sci-fi than this; I read Ready Player Two two months ago. Now I'm on to a realistic novel, but I don't know if I'm going to finish it. It's about rich people in New York (yawn). I'm only about ten percent in, so I'll read a little more and see if I get hooked.