Fascinating concept: Spend too long playing in a virtual reality capsule and you might just find yourself a permanent resident in an online game. The phenomenon is still mysterious, but it appears to grant you immortality in the game. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the limits seem to be as endless as your imagination. It’s also a very appealing idea in some ways, I know one person who’d love to go perma just because he could game forever.
It’s a book set in a game! How awesome is that? This book easily blends reality with the sci-fi idea of playing MMORPGs in full virtual reality, and the fantasy setting of Alter World itself. From the minimal research I did after reading this, I discovered that Mr. Rus is widely credited as having started an entire sub-genre with this series. He even won an award for this book.
A different voice: These books were originally written in Russian, and the first three have been translated into English. This shows in the book, and it’s refreshing to read.
Things I Didn’t like:
God-moded main character: This is, funnily enough, an RPG term rather than a literary one. I did a fair share of D&D style role-play online, and one of the biggest fauz pas is to create, or role-play, a character in such a way that it’s practically invincible. I am, admittedly, not the greatest gamer, so perhaps there’s truth to the way this book was written, but I felt a tad disappointed when I hit the halfway point and realised pretty much everything this guy tried was going to work out for him.
Side characters of convenience: On the other side of the coin, we have a cast of characters that seem to exist only for the author’s whim. Despite some interesting back-stories, these people lack depth and drive. Their influence on the plot often felt contrived rather than a result of an individual’s nature.
Overall, I find this a hard one to call. The characters are a major flaw in the story, but the sheer ingenuity behind the concept carries you. You want to see what this world has to offer its perma players, and there are some surprises near the end in that regard.
(Extra note: Isn't that cover amazing? Perhaps a bit heavy on the Bleeding Cowboy font, but still beautiful)
Buy it here