When the real world is threatened, it’s up to the players in a virtual one to save it.
Van Vanyushin doesn’t see the point in ever leaving the beautiful digital world of the game he loves—and for good reason. In the industrial wasteland he calls home, it is often the only way people can experience life’s simplest pleasures. But his allegiance to the game is tested when an ambitious CIA agent named Sang Ngo calls upon him to help as she goes undercover in the game to investigate Draco—the corporation responsible for creating the massively popular role-playing game Dragon Kings of the New World.
Sang is a gifted hacker who feels nothing but contempt for those who waste their lives in what she sees as a false reality…but when people start dying in the game, she must find out why. Van, a talented gamer, is her guide to navigate the world, level up their newbie characters fast and get into some of the most dangerous areas of the game. He dreams of becoming a pro gamer sponsored by Draco one day, but his partnership with Sang threatens to expose secrets from his past that could jeopardize those plans.
Now, they will have to put aside their differences to discover whatever—or whoever—is killing players, but the truth they find is darker than either of them imagined….
My Opinion: 366 pages, $0.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
The novel, is unnecessarily complicated. It starts off as a detective thriller story where the CIA sends an agent into a game to investigate some murders tied to a popular VRMMO then it spirals into plot hole riddled search for evidence that aliens are trying to communicate through game glitches.
The two main characters are also hard for me to care about or root for. The CIA agent thinks all gamers are ‘loser, pigs, and underachievers.’ Her guide in the MMO is a burnt out gaming addict who doesn’t want to be there but has to because the CIA has dirt on him. He’s pretty whiny.
The actual game mechanics in the story are solid and consistent. However, while the game is supposed to take place in this amazing futuristic full immersion VR system, the game mechanics feel dated. Like they were pulled from a game from the early 2000s.
The first half of the novel is actually just the gamer explaining every detail of the world to the CIA agent who’s supposed to be a super hacker. It got really annoying really quickly. Then the story abandons the murder plot and inexplicably turns into this search for evidence of aliens trying to communicate with people through the game. Seriously, one sentence the two are looking for vaguely defined evidence in game of a conspiracy to cover up murder and the next sentence the CIA agent is now looking for aliens.
While there are some interesting moments in the story, for the most part it’s kind of a mess. The plot doesn’t make sense. The gaming stuff, while solid mechanic wise, doesn’t actually matter to the story. The plot just sort of advances itself regardless of what quests the CIA agent has solved or her level.
Overall, I thought the story was meh. That plus the weird deception from the publisher, just left a bitter taste in my mouth and ruined what small enjoyment I did have with the story.
Score: 4 out of 10