A new pandemic - the perma effect - has taken over Earth of the near future. Whenever you play your favorite online game, beware: your mind might merge with the virtual world and dump its comatose host. Woe be to those stuck forever in Tetris! And still they're the lucky ones compared to those burning alive eternally within the scorched hulls of tank simulators. But some unfortunates - the handicapped and the terminally ill, shell-shocked army vets, wronged crime victims and other society misfits - choose to flee real life willingly, escaping to the limitless world of online sword and sorcery MMORPGs. Once a seasoned gamer and now a terminal cancer patient, Max grasps at this final chance to preserve his life and identity. So he goes for it - goes for the promise of immortality shared with a few trusty friends and the woman he loves. Together they roam the roads of AlterWorld and sample its agony and ecstasy born of absolute freedom.
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STRENGTH VS INTELLIGENCE Let me start with what I like, as I was entertained, but my list of problems are long. The possibility of being able to imprint your mind into a game is intriguing. Being able to cheat death also intriguing. At times I wanted to quit listening and go play a game. Figuring out how the game worked was interesting and for the first half of the game I was at five star level. I also liked that this player chose to have an intelligent player, figuring the majority of players would go for strength. It is weird that they put a sword on the cover of the book, as this player never uses one. I also like books by foreign authors, just so I can get a feel for their culture. What it would be like to live in a game and not be able to leave is probably what carries this whole story.
MY STOMACH THINKS MY THROATS CUT I gave Nick from Ga. a helpful vote as he hits the nail on the head. I am an old man, so I am not as much in to gaming as the generation of my kids, but I do know enough. I know that these games are set up for it to take you awhile to learn how to play. That you are going to die several times trying to figure the game out. I can only recall this character dying once. In hours, he is levels above players who have been at the game for weeks. The story could have been better with more conflict and had the main character had a harder time of it. It shows a weakness in the author's abilities that he made it so easy. He also makes a big deal out of the fact that he did not check this world out too carefully before he decided to make it his world for eternity. He is an experienced gamer and he has played several games, but when he is going to pick a game for life, it is done without thought. Since it was done this way and he points it out, I was expecting this to bite him on the butt, sometime in the game, but nothing came of it. I also want to point out that while at times I wanted to play a game, at other times it was like watching your older brother play Nintendo, but not let you play. I got tired of this is worth so many points and adds this to my several abilities, all spelled out specifically. Take all this out and the book is two thirds smaller.
THE GIRL It must be a cultural thing, as I ran into it, reading another Sci-fi Russian novel, but women never play a role in the book or as in this one they are belittled. Even though you can mold your character anyway you want, you can even pick your sex, the main female character is a wisp of a thing. She is his girlfriend and he often refers to her as THE GIRL. Her are some of the quotes referring to women, including his girlfriend. NOTHING LIKE A TRINKET TO MAKE A GIRL HAPPY. WOMEN AND THIER LOGIC. EVEN TALLIA DECIDED NOT TO BE A DIVA. ALL WOMEN WERE THE SAME, YOU OFFERED THEM A HAND THEY TOOK AN ARM. WHAT A CHILD SHE WAS. When he first meets her, he is considered the romantic hero, cause while everyone else is gifting her items that will help her in the game, he gifts her worthless flowers, cause girls prefer flowers over anything useful.
For the most part I was engaged and entertained. With all it's faults if book two goes on sale, I will purchase it. Towards the end it looks like the story is going to turn dark, but if he glides through the game as easily as he did book one, I will not go further in the series.
If you are not familiar with games, than you will not enjoy this book. There are a lot of game acronyms and familiarity with gaming expected.
(I am not going to give a synopsis of the story because you can look at the description and the other review and get some good ones) These days it takes a lot to get me to really rave about a book. I have over 400 books in my audible library and I have listened to almost all of them because I have a long commute almost every day. I bought this book on a whim, not expecting much out of the idea of real life mixing with a video game. I have read books before where a human mind gets trapped in a video game, or where people bring video games into real life, and other compounds of the two. This book, however, surpassed them all. I have some background playing video games. I am a bit of a gamer now (on steam) and played World of Warcraft as a teenager for a couple of months before I realized that it was sucking my life away. But I have never forgotten that time and the fun that I had on that MMORPG, going on raids with other players, leveling up my character, joining a clan and deciding which stats I wanted. As such, the my inner nerd had a nerdgasam about an hour into this book and I haven't looked back since. There was a time, about three hours in, that I thought that although this was a fun book, it was not going to be very deep as far as themes and character development. I couldn't have been more wrong. The book and the series that follows (I am on book three right now) deal with some very heavy themes indeed, from life and death, to government involvement in personal life, to revenge, to rape, to the concept of eternity, to slavery, to greed, to what makes things right or wrong... The list goes on and on. It has been a while since I listened to a book that did such a good job of involving deep ideas while still moving the story forward in an such an interesting way. The main character also kept my interest all of the way through while continuing to change and grow as a person and as a game character. The narrator for this book is also excellent. One other thing: I figured out part way through that this book was translated form Russian to English. The translation is flawless however, as can be seen from the fact that I didn't even realize it for quite some time.