Atherleah Carroll grew up in a negative-tax family in the gang-controlled suburbs of Brisbane at the end of the twenty-first century. From the age of six, she decided that she wanted more and with the help of her local gang-leader, she learned the skills to escape the relentless pressure to accept a life of mediocrity. On her sixteenth birthday, she was inadvertently implanted with a Neural Enhancement Chip instead of the free Government provided basic level personal AI. This mistake not only removed the limits placed on the AI but also broke some of the Government instigated control parameters. Leah’s life rapidly becomes a battle, both in the virtual-multiverse and in real life.
On the advice of the local ‘boss’, Leah began playing the virtual fantasy game Dunyanin to earn the money she needed to live at the local POD facility and help with her education. With the help of her rapidly evolving AI, she has not only thwarted attempts by the government to limit her opportunities but evaded kidnapping by virtual slavers. Co-opted by several Virtual Security AI Leah has helped shut down a virtual sweat-shop which used mind-controlled players to farm for resources. The family, which runs the virtual crime syndicate, has cornered Leah in the depths of a virtual-mine and sent twenty player-mercenaries to capture her. Fleeing through a hidden doorway into a mirror mine operated by goblins Leah hopes to escape her pursuers.
My Opinion: 391 pages, $3.99, Not Available on Kindle Unlimited
I’m reviewing this one a bit late. I totally missed its release. But I’m glad someone reminded me of it. It’s one of my favorite reads this week.
I reviewed book 1 in the series and gave it a 6 out of 10 as a review score. The novel setup some great sci-fi stuff with AI, implants, advanced VR learning, and game to real world money stuff. I thought the novel had real potential but just didn’t realize it in book 1.
I’m happy to say that book 2 realizes that potential and more. There are multiple story threads in the novel that weave together a narrative that makes the game and real life stuff flow well.
The early part of the novel focuses on the main character (MC), Leah, getting access to a rare dungeon series quest in the fantasy VR game. She pulls in the friends she made in book 1 and they do that for the first 40% of the novel. It’s honestly not particularly exciting but that section provides a vast amount of wealth for the MC and sets up some great stuff later in the novel. Later there are more interesting game storylines that involve lost elven kingdoms, goblins, and more cool cultural stuff that expands on the world building of the fantasy game. Also, there’s the introduction of a sci-fi space game that has its own stories.
However, the really interesting parts of the novel are the events that take place outside of the game stuff. The MC made some seriously powerful enemies and now they’re trying to ruin her life by trying to stop her access to the VR pods, her education, and they’re are even threats to her life. How the MC deals with these threats is the really interesting part of the story to me.
Be aware that the MC is becoming overpowered in this story and that there are a few places game logic is overridden in favor of story advancement. Also, the end just kind of ends. It feels more like a ‘to be continued’ leading directly to book 3. These things might bother some people.
Overall, this is a good book and you honestly don’t need to read book 1 to understand to get into the story here. I look forward to reading book 3 soon.
Score: 7 out of 10