Unfortunately RP2 suffers from sequelitis. The author has tried to recreate the charm of his hit RP1 by loading it up with mementos and trivia from the video games, movies, songs, and TV shows a person who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s might have experienced. RP1 had that, too, but in smaller doses. Its selling point is nostalgia and for some, it will be a wonderful read for that reason, but for me it was “been there, done that.” I loved RP1 but it was more because of the poor boy makes good theme of the real life Wade. I didn’t grow up in that era and never played any of the games mentioned in the book.
Slight spoiler here if you haven’t read the first book: Wade, the protagonist, raises himself from poverty through his skill at playing video games. Here, he is more of a dilettante and much less sympathetic. He, or his avatar, still must fight through the levels of a horrific video game of sorts, since an AI bot gone wild has taken control of Wade’s physical body and those of millions of others. But the charm is lacking. Rather than conveying the thrill of a good video game, it’s hundreds of pages of trivia, mostly of movies, TV, and pop songs and celebrities, especially those of Prince, that must be mastered. I found myself clicking ahead on the audiobook while playing solitaire. The reader was very good and kept me awake with his enthusiastic reading, and there always the fun of watching the good guys defeat the bad guys, so the book wasn’t a waste. It was just too formulaic.