Freehaven Online is more than a game to Justine. By day, she creates monsters for the world, by night she’s raiding dungeons. Most importantly, it’s her one connection to her dead brother whose buffs still linger within the game.
When his virtual shrine is threatened by an update Justine reforges his guild to complete the Dragonsbane quest in his honor. As an experienced tank, she’s no stranger to the bandit attacks, PvP combat, and dragons Freehaven will throw at her.
Little does she know, a hacker organization known as Archangel tampers with the update, leaving thousands of players, including Justine, stranded in full immersion virtual reality. As if that weren’t strange enough, NPCs are getting smarter, and some marooned players don’t want to escape. They’re ready to jump at the chance for virtual immortality.
Justine must temper the fervent emotions stirring in her guild and unite them to complete the quest. If she doesn’t, friends will break from sanity, and others will die in real life.
I’ve never read LitRPG before… mainly because I never knew it was a thing. But if the rest of the genre is anything like this book, I AM IN.
As a casual gamer, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be in the target audience for this novel and if too many references would just go flying right over my head but I’m pleased to report that I was pleasantly surprised to understand all the terminology and references (though there’s a glossary included just in case!).
The main character, Justine, is a computer game developer and gamer. Her younger brother has passed away and she’s taken to playing in his favourite VR game to feel closer to him and to try to contact his old guild members to let them know why he suddenly disappeared from their game. She’s a very sympathetic and likable character, though she can be a little over sensitive at times.
Freehaven Online, the game that this story takes place in, feels to me like a mashup of Skyrim/World of Warcraft and Fallout (think fantasy but with cool technology), and I was hooked from the start. There’s dragon slaying, tournaments, suspense and magic.
This was an amazingly immersive read, exploring the new world with Justine and discovering her capabilities within it as she did. She meets a variety of new people from different walks of life and creates her own guild, which felt very personal to me.
I enjoyed this book in audio format so discovering that the book is actually 600+ pages long after I’d finished it blew my mind, I was easily listening to 3 hour chunks while doing housework and trying to drag it out as long as possible near the end so I wasn’t going to have to say goodbye to the characters.
The audio format did make listening to the stat read outs a bit tedious, I probably would have skimmed those bits in a print edition but there weren’t so many that it was a problem.
I’ve listened to a few audiobooks by Amy Landon before and I love her first person narration and pacing, but this time I’m going to have to say that the accents she used in this book are not her strong suit (sorry! I know that Scottish accents are a b*tch to copy).
As an audio listener, I’d rather hear a narrator use the wrong accent than one they haven’t mastered – making me giggle does ruin the immersion a bit!
Thankfully all the characters start using American accents around halfway through the story so it does become less distracting.
After getting to the end of this audio, I learnt that the sequel is already available to read in print so now I have to decide whether or not to jump right in or hang about for the audiobook…. Decisions, decisions