I read Threadbare a while ago, which was also written by Andrew Seiple, and it stands as one of my favorite books. Not just in LitRPG, but just in general for self published books. It’s just so cute and fun that I recommend it any time it’s appropriate. So, why not try another one of this author’s series?
I was not as much of a fan of this series right off the bat, like within the first chapter I thought I may set it down. The only reason I kept going was my thoughts of Threadbare and surely I would like this more as it went along. I did, thank goodness.
I think it’s pretty clear that the target audience was not me, and likely meant for high school boys/YA leaning male perspective. One of the very first things you learn about the MC, Richard Royal, is that he has a weight problem. He’s 5’2′, 220lbs, and he’s self-described as doughy, flabby, girthy etc. I mean yes that’s obese, but it’s odd that he’s thinking about things like his chin fat, ya know? I think this is one of the things that really made it difficult to get into this perspective. So the premise up front is that he and his friends are trying to get into a new and very illegal game that let’s them get laid with all the physical feelings of it.
Okay. So this kid is 14. I *know* that this particular age group is sex crazed and just coming into puberty and super intensely focused on girls. But that does not make it less weird for me to essentially read an under aged boys thoughts about sex and getting laid. It’s not like I’m offended, it’s just…. weird. It’s not something I’d personally be like, yeah, let’s read more about THAT. I persisted, hoping it would move past this once the gameplay started. It did, it got better.
So, on top of his rather lackluster appearance, he’s pretty poor, he’s bullied, and his parents are not that fabulous. His father is a racist, abusive, alcoholic, and his mom seems pretty mousey and pushed around a lot. She’s just kind of “there”. So, the other thing is that in this world the ecosystem has started to shut down. Global warming is rampant, bugs are our main source of protein, and water is limited. There are no-go zones in the world where the heat is so intense its a death zone. People have turned to VR to escape not only the hellish landscape, but the government and society itself. It seems as though right wing extremism won out in America and women are now highly subjugated and treated like absolute trash. Religious extremism is also rampant and enforced by he government, which I guess can be described as a totalitarian theocracy.
Well, this illegal game that Richard is now playing is global, and that’s really big news for Richard. The United STates, or what’s left of it, is isolated. Think North Korea kind of isolation where outside global contact is forbidden. So, suddenly Richard is getting new perspectives on life, the universe, and everything and slowly he becomes more tolerable.
My main hook, though, was the second POV. The two POVs become dependent on each other and influence each other in really interesting ways. But, to talk any more about the second POV will essentially ruin a surprise so I’m just going to leave it there. The second main selling point for me is his Dragonett, Geebo? I audiobooked so I may have the spellings wrong there, but, all dragons get this slave mini dragon looking thing, and our MC gets Geebo. I just thought he was adorable. (So, when MC gets into this game he also gets a new race that no one else can play, and it dramatically alters his experience in the game. He gets to be a dragon. )
This game world is very similar to EverQuest/WoW kinds of games with various classes and factions, how you gain reputation with villages and all that jazz. I would say it’s moderately stat heavy. I really liked how the world came together and things you could or couldn’t do with your classes and skillsets, but I wouldn’t say it was mindblowing or revolutionary. What really made this one stand out a bit was the intense connection between the real world and the game, usually the ‘real world’ is either left behind or not a big deal in these games and I like it when it’s included because it grounds it and makes it feel more real, at least for me.
Overall….would I recommend this? Man, I don’t know, lol. I guess if you read this and you’re like, I can tolerate that beginning bit to get to the dragon play, then yeah sure. If you’re going to be really annoyed by male gaze, skip this, lol. I can’t really take away much from this book in the way of how it was written, just the content I objected to, personally.
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 12/15
- Pacing: 13/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Enjoyment: 6/10
Final Score: 76/100