Jason logs into Awaken Online fed-up with reality. He's in desperate need of an escape, and this game is his ticket to finally feeling the type of power and freedom that are so sorely lacking in his real life.
Awaken Online is a brand new virtual reality game that just hit the market, promising an unprecedented level of immersion. Yet Jason quickly finds himself pushed down a path he didn't expect. In this game, he isn't the hero. There are no damsels to save. There are no bad guys to vanquish.
In fact, he might just be the villain.
©2016 Travis Bagwell (P)2016 Travis Bagwell
if you're a fan of Ready Player One, Armada, Magic 2.0, or even the Critical Failures series you'll love this. The narrator can be a little off putting at the beginning, but his voice actually lends well to the characters and story. I can't wait for book 2 :)
As I started this book I found the character development a little under done at best, I think it was my judgement of the main character which came across as unlikeable. However as the author began to gain his footing the other characters in the book slowly began to flesh out. And my judgement of the main character changed as his flaws were recognised, within the storyline, admitted to and positively worked on.
The descriptive gore was a bit much at times and though I can see the parallels between the settings with in the 'game' and this point again I think it was perhaps a tad overdone.
About 1/2 into the book I was about to delete it however I am glad I listened to the end as it definitely improved with much better character development and a less predictable plot. I look forwards to ALFREDS further character development
I am very much the target audience for this book. I've been a gamer since, well, the origins of modern computers. This is, in a lot of ways, wish fulfillment of the highest order for nerds and geeks (I say that as one of them). The concept was a fresh take on a budding sub-genre and, imo, the best one thus far.
There were some hamfisted aspects to it, a few areas where things were just... too on the nose. But there were also many aspects that were extremely satisfying and well executed.
Some might find Jason's path through the book/game... less than optimal. However, Bagwell does a good job at showing the transparencies of one side vs the other. Nothing is quite as it seems.
The added science fiction of the computer story line was rather well done and I was caught off guard for some of the revelations. Well done.
All in all, if you are gamer then this listen is a no brainer. If you're not, but still have an affinity for Sci-fi etc, this will probably fit the bill, but it would have anywhere near the impact.
Worth a credit and your time.
"Very engaging, and the narrator works hard to make a splendid performance."
Very good! I couldn't stop listening. The narrator surprised me when he used sound effects to add to his performance so it took me a while to get used to it. Once I got into the swing of things though, I really enjoyed what he was doing. Add to that the fact that the story is engrossing and addictive, and it led to a very late night of giddy childish squeals of delight. If you are looking for that nich of video game books, then this scratches that itch in a powerful way.
"Very well executed - top-rank LitRPG"
Enjoyable start that didn't squander its potential. Ingredients not too different from other Lit RPGs but well seasoned and delicious. Shows great promise for future books.
Out of four different Lit RPG series I've experienced, only Shaman Mayon can compete with this strong storytelling.
Room for improvement:
No high schooler learns emotional maturity and communication skills that quickly, and especially without making painfully embarrassing mistakes first. This is still quite minor. It felt artificially convenient, but the story invested enough points in vitality to survive the injury.
For the narrator, great job and enjoyed sound effects. Stuttering was a bit over-the-top and please opt for the other pronunciation of trebuchet.
"Best of LitRPG"
Best of all the litrpg I've listened to on audible so far. A+ across the board.
"Literary RPG done right."
This book is easily in my top ten. I rank it well above "Ready Player One" due specifically for Awaken Online's lack of slow points. It is one of the best paced books I've ever listened to. While I have some (but not most) things in common with the protagonist, I feel like I understand him. The tale starts and ends with the unexpected, and humor is used as the perfect seasoning, not the main dish.
1. The opening scene. "I know who you are..."
2. The archer with eyes of dark-lit eyes
3. "Hand grenades"
4. "The Keep is under attack!"
Any detail about these scenes may take away from the listener's experience. Just know each of them is fabric in a tapestry of fun, cleverness, and well-narrated action.
In hindsight, the vision of what the Twilight Throne could become. The old man knows his role and plays it well.
Yes, were it possible.
I remember when World of Warcraft came out. The press kept asking Blizzard how they created such a wildly popular game as their first MMO. They said "we didn't set out to improve MMO games by leaps and bounds. We set out to increase EVERY aspect of MMO games by 1%."
While I am not a fan of WoW at all, the concept struck a chord with me. Sitting here by the campfire with Onyx and a pretty archer, I find myself reflecting on Blizzard's comments. "Awaken Online: Catharsis" is *exactly right* for me. It has no slow points and nothing feels rushed. The balance of IG and IRL is correct.
The plot is great and fun for me. The characters feel both fresh and familiar. The intrigue is tasty without being overbearing. The good things in the book are really good. The lack of bad, weak, boring, or pretentious things makes the book great. The fact [redacted] explode makes this book delicious.
...if the sequel doesn't come out soon, however, I will definitely have a bone to pick with Travis Bagwell.
Be warned, the absolute worst sentence in the book is "End Book One." I hated that part. :)
"Couldn't Stop Listening"
Gaming is in my blood. It's what attracted me to this book, and the authors knowledge of the RPG universe and how it was applied in the overall story is one of the things that kept me captivated.
I can't really say there was just "one best thing" that I loved about Awaken Online. The story line was intriguing, the humor was in all the right places, and the narration was top notch.
It was a slow build as Jason became the person he would eventually become, and it was such a fun ride to see his character build throughout the book.
I can't really think of anything that compares to Awaken Online that I myself have listened to. I'm sure they exist, I just haven't listened to them.
I've not heard a bad book from Stifel yet. This is no different. Throughout the entire 16 hours of content he was able to lead you through the twists and turns, taking you in game and out of game all with ease. The characters were all easy to discern, and I never felt like I was being "read to", it felt like he himself was immersed in the story which made it that much more of an enjoyable listen.
Villain or Hero: Who will you be?
I have it on good authority that the next book is in the works, and I anxiously await the fallout from Catharsis.
"Fantasy lovers & Gamers get this Book !"
Wow !!! Thanks you Travis Bagwell for an awesome start to what is shaping up to be one of my new favorite series. Very Pleasantly surprised.
Great writing, Great Story and Great voice work by David Stifel
I could see it not being a book for everyone but if you did your homework, then you know what your getting into.
I would have to agree with the other reviewers totally worth a credit. This is my first Online RPG style book I've read, this book may have spoiled me for any others.
I did wish for a little dungeon crawling but plenty of time for that in book two... Which I can't wait for more in the series.
"Couldn't Stop Listening!"
Since I rushed through the first time I most likely will listen a second to catching anything I may have missed.
For me the most memorable moment was when one of Jason's Thief Zombie's tried to kiss him before the battle. Jerry (sp?) rocks!
I enjoyed David's performance with the different accents as well as the sound effects (I know this wasn't David but was part of the performance).
About 5-6 chapter's in, I was starting to Google the author's name to see when the second. third, and fourth books come out. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and enjoyed how the author tied up most of the subplot elements while still leaving me wanting more. It's a balance and I feel the author hit it perfectly. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoy MMORPG's but would caution parents over the cursing (more PG-13 than R) and descriptions of violence (no rape scenes or distinctive violence against women but graphic depictions of war-like violence - definitely R rated). Personally, I have been listening with my 14 year old son, and he is constantly bugging me when we will finish it (I don't have the heart to tell him I already have, it's great to have a "carrot" to get him to do his homework/chores without nagging).
Couldn't put it down! This is the type of story I wanted from a LitRPG. Can't wait for the next one.
"I enjoyed it alot"
It definetly pulls you in, especially if you are a game and into sci-fi, very well thought out and planned. I for one can't wait for the next book in this series.
Took me a minute to get used to narrator because i listen to alot of audio books and i had just finished another book series nearly 100 hours and i was used to that voice lol, but once i listened for a bit it was well done. The little soumd effect was a nice touch.
"A great listen!"
I was on the look out for a book like this, I really enjoy mmorpgs and also love reading works of fiction around the themes
"great start to a series."
I started listening to this book whilst running a few errands, I ended up listening to the entire story in one go. The LitRPG genre is my current addiction this is one of the better ones. I thoroughly enjoyed the main character and his tactical playstyle. My only complaint would be that the main character seems to be overpowered from almost the beginning of the game.
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