Speedrunner by Adam Elliot

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Onto another LitRPG! This one was actually really good, I didn’t even know it was a LitRPG… I just saw Vikas Adam narrating and bought it blind lol.


Plot:

Cayden is a speed gamer, unlike some gamers who want to unlock every achievement, or collect all the rare items, or level up to absurd levels – speedrunners try and break the game by completing it as fast as possible. He has a live stream where he games in front of an audience, and he’s decided to try out the most popular game out there, Tower of Babel. The Tower mysteriously arrived in downtown Manhattan shooting up out of the ground and going into the atmosphere. It’s called “Launch day” and no one knows how or why it happened, so right from the start this ‘game’ and litrpg is a little different from others that I’ve read.

The tower has 100 levels, and millions of people are playing – but most people haven’t even made it past level 50 despite the ‘game’ being out for many years.

Cayden makes a bold proposal that he’s going to complete it, reach the top, and finish the game in 4 months. Of course this spikes a lot of peoples interest, and of course, things don’t go as planned.

On one of his first outings Cayden runs into a group of people in trouble, they’ve aggro’d too many goblins and they’re all about to die. He rushes in to try and save them, but one of their party does actually die, and in this game if you die – you die for real. Your body gets whisked up to the top of the tower and no one really knows what happens to you after that. Now, why people would sign up for a game that works like this, I have no idea, but I tend to be a more cautious person. The reward for reaching the top is supposedly you’ll get blessed with powers.

So, after the father of the group dies Cayden pays his respects and moves on – but he’s stumbled into something much larger. The father and the son that were on their ‘birthday’ outing in the game wasn’t what it appeared, and the son makes an accusation that Cayden killed his father in cold blood and someone else in their team. Now Cayden has a bounty on his head and is running from basically everyone in the game.

Final Score: 8/10 


Characters:

This is a single POV that’s told from Cayden’s perspective. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like his character, he seemed a bit shallow and flat at first – but as the story moved on he progressed and became more developed. He’s played a ton of games in his life and he’s always chosen the ‘good guys’ side – and that’s how he’s chosen to go through this game. Despite people trying to kill him, if he wounds them badly enough in self defense he does bandage them so they don’t go into “bleed out” and end up dying.

There are a few other characters he teams up with along the way to try and help clear his name, they weren’t quite as well developed, but honestly LitRPG isn’t known for its character development strengths – I was impressed I liked Cayden as much as I did.

Final Score: 7/10 


World Building:

I really loved the world building in this, there are so many LitRPG’s that just use the standard Skyrim-esque format and have no real culture or unique world building of its own. There’s a whole race of people in this game that work kind of like NPC’s, you can interact with them like they are real people, or you can just interact via menus.

Since this game exists in real life in Manhattan, you can mine things and export them out of the video game! Never seen that done before. There’s a whole economy in the game that works separately from real money – real money has no value inside the Tower.

There was a LOT of info dumping at first, I almost got too annoyed with it and DNF’d but I’m glad I didn’t, it wasn’t nearly as stat-heavy after the first 15-20% and the story itself really got going.

The Lord Emperor is supposedly at the top of the tower, and is presumed to be the creator of this ‘game’.

There were a lot of real world references since this is essentially urban fantasy/litrpg, every once in a while it got a laugh out of me. It wasn’t over the top though, nothing like Ready Player One, just a few things sprinkled in from time to time.

Final Score: 8/10


Pacing/Prose/Tone:

The pacing after the first 20% went very quickly, the beginning of the book was mostly intro into the characters and the world and plot, which is fine.

The tone was definitely lighter, it’s not exactly a comedy but it had its moments. There was a lot of action and adventure, and there’s some mystery too about how this giant tower came to be and who the Emperor could be.

Pacing Final Score: 8/10

Writing Final Score: 8/10


Originality:

So, I’ve never seen a LitRPG where the game is actually set in real life, even to the point where it changes the real world based on potions, metals and other things that can be exported out of the tower.

I’ve also never seen the ‘speed gamer’ perspective done before.

It’s kind of tough to keep LitRPG fresh and exciting, many of them start with people plugging in online to a medieval fantasy world and hack and slash their way through. I liked how the real world had an influence on the game and vice versa.

Final Score: 8.5/10 


Audience:

  • For people who like LitRPG
  • For people who like a lot of action
  • For people who like single pov
  • For people who like lots of magic/fantasy elements
  • For people who like lighter faster paced books
  • For people who like ‘questing’
  • For people who like urban fantasy/real world references

Final Score: 47.5/60 or 7.9/10

 

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