Fantasy - Independently Published

Esmes Indie Authored Highlights: Awaken Online

Bingo Squares: Debut novel, self published

Plot Summary

So, this book is set in the future, around the year 2076 – virtual reality video games are a big thing, and a new game that’s supposed to be record breaking and ground breaking is being released soon. During the control tests with beta players the AI system that controls the whole video game starts going rogue. The AI named Alfred is over riding protocols, and doing things he wasn’t designed to do – like access players memories. Alfred is supposed to be one of the most advanced AI’s ever created, and the game developers are nervous, but ultimately put the game through beta rounds into general public release.

The main character was expelled unfairly from school, and spends much of his time playing this game, farming items for real world money to make it by.

Alfred continues to do things the designers hadn’t intended, building an interactive world that’s unprecedented. It’s like WoW but incredibly enhanced. One of the more interesting parts of the game is that there’s both pleasant and unpleasant sensory feedback. Pain is a real part of the game and was included intentionally by the game designers to deter people from callously running into battle without a care – it can be turned down, but the pain feedback can’t be turned off entirely.

Alfred had made his own decision to base the magic system in game based on players personality based off a test you take as soon as you get into

Characters

Jason: The main character of the story, he’s an 18 year old who’s parents are mostly absent from his life, they go around the world and do conservation activism leaving him to his own devices most of the time. Jason is a typical nerd enjoying video games, has very few friends, and a crush on a girl. Overall I was surprised his personality type in the real world turned out to be what it was in the game.

Alex: The antagonist, and my least favorite part of the books. He’s a psychopath who’s Jason’s school bully. He doesn’t just punch people in faces being a general jerk, he also dismembers his pets and other animals.

Riley: Jasons love interest

Alfred: The AI who controls the entire Awaken Online video game.

Claire and ___ two POV’s of cerulean entertainment – Claire has protested the release of the game due to the unknown capabilities of Alfred to control the minds and bodies of players. ____ is the opposite and pushes opinion and he eventually wins out. (I can’t believe I’m blanking on this guys name)

Pacing

The beginning starts out a little slowly, but when you get to the action scenes it goes pretty quickly. There are some info dumps, but because I found how the video game worked and how characters level so interesting I didn’t mind. If you find that shit boring, you’ll be bored.

Pros and Cons

Pros

I want this video game to exist so badly, it’s set in the year 2074 so virtual reality has been fine tuned and is incredibly immersive, with sensory feed back including pain it sounds like an amazing world to try and explore. The personality based magic system is also highly appealing, whenever I play video games I’m almost always healer class (if it’s that kind of video game) so reading through someone be the “bad guy” was interesting since I can’t ever make myself do it. Sometimes with Mass Effect 2 I’d get bored and try to create and evil character just to see if I could make it through the game in a new way, I always quit shortly after I make the character, I just feel bad being a jerk even if its directed at pixels. Watching someone be an evil character is fun for me to watch though, the zombies and monsters Jason is able to summon is really cool, and watching him plan out how to take out whole groups of people by himself using summoned monsters was fun. I did want to learn more about this world and video game after finishing the first, and I did automatically pick up the next book and finish it fairly quickly, I enjoyed the story a lot.

Cons

There were a ton of cliche’s and tropes in this book where I feel like there was no depth. The antagonist is at the top of that list because I don’t buy his back story creating the level of psychosis he’s displaying. His dying mother who probably had mental issues slaps him on her death bed and calls him weak, he then cries at his mothers funeral and his dad tells him to stop showing weakness. First, it’s incredibly strange for parents to act like that, but even if they do say that kind of shit to their kid, I don’t think it’s going to make him go home and gut the family dog and turn into an utter psychopath.

Audience:

* People who like LitRPG and don’t mind info dumps on rules and magic
* LOTS of magic
* LOTS of fighting
* read more for having fun than reading for polished work. This book was fun but was rough around the edges like many debut novels.
* people who like cat companions.

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