The Cadet (LitRPG. Squadcom-13. Book:1)

The near future. A UFO appears on Earth’s orbit. Ignoring all contact attempts, it showers the planet with priceless artifacts. Choose: perfect health, ten million dollars, or seven years in prison as per the new amendment.

The night of the Meteor Shower, Paul and his friends run around the city, engaging in quick fights with citizens gone crazy, trying to obtain one of the artifacts.

But is it really selfless help the mysterious aliens are offering? What awaits a human who holds a precious crystal in his hand? Where will he wake up tomorrow? What if the first thing he sees when he opens his eyes will be the blinking line of text: “Loading location: virtual training ground Kubinka-Digital. Welcome, cadet! You’re now space fighter pilot!

My Opinion: 223 pages, $4.99 and available on Kindle Unlimited.

Fair warning: Don’t expect this to be like Alterworld, the author’s other series.

The beginning of the story reads like an end of the world novel. Supposedly, aliens have dropped orbs that confer great power and everyone on earth is willing to kill to get one. Only it turns out that it was really a futuristic human society and anyone that got the power of an orb is sent to the future and conscripted into a war with some vague alien race. Oh, this future population is made up of mostly women because of some bio-agent that was deployed against humanity in the past killed most of the men and prevented any new ones from being born. This apparently means that every woman in the future is super desperate and sexually aggressive towards any guy transported from the past.

Are you confused by this backstory? Me too. Turns out, none of that really matters to the LitRPG part of the story which doesn’t even appear till about the 22% mark of the book. Here’s what you need to know: Our main character, Paul, lost his limbs in a war during our time. He gets hold of one of these orbs that have the power to regrow limbs. Instead of using it entirely for himself he shares it with a blind woman. Once the orb restores both of them, they find they now share a psychic/soul bond that lets them feel each others emotions and thoughts. They’re both transported to the future where they get further cyborg upgrades and then go into a kind of virtual training system along with other people transported into the past. This training system is very game like, with levels, hit points, stat buffs, and weapons damage ranges. However it’s also very difficult since it’s meant to simulate what these conscripted soldiers are going to face in the field.

Skip to the 22% mark and enjoy the rest of the book. After that point it’s a good LitRPG story about a group of soldiers trying to survive and grow stronger in a immersive virtual training environment. Just be aware that there is a fair bit of culturally specific concepts that might not be translating well from Russian. Like the insistence that all women secretly want a strong Alpha male, even in a future where the population is something like 90% female.

Overall I give The Cadet 6 out of 10. If the beginning 20% were less confusing I’d have enjoyed it more.

The Cadet (LitRPG. Squadcom-13. Book:1)