Death isn’t a big deal in the virtual world of online gaming, but after poking her nose where it doesn’t belong, Dakota Marx finds herself running for her life―and reality doesn’t come with a respawn.
At twenty-two, she’s still slinging coffee at an Amazon Cafe despite having a degree in programming. It’s not because she’s unlucky, unmotivated, or even that she fancies herself an underground activist crusading against evil corporations… hunting for a ‘real’ job would take time away from her game.
Axillon99 is the world’s most popular multiplayer online experience, with a universe containing billions of planets to explore. Ever since video games broke the screen barrier, plunging players fully into their characters, reality just can’t compete.
Cognition Systems International announces a ten million dollar prize to celebrate the release of the next generation Neurona 4 interface helmet. After her crew decides to try chasing the money, Dakota discovers a sinister intent behind the new technology. Going public threatens the lives of her friends, but keeping CSI’s secret could destroy the very fabric of society.
My Opinion: 568 pages, $4.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Definitely one of the better stories I’ve read this week. An interesting mix of slice of life MMORPG adventuring, video game contest, with a bit of thriller mixed in.
The main character (MC), Dakota, is a twenty-something working as a barista. She spends all her free time playing the best sci-fi VRMMORPG, Axilon99, with her crew of friends. When a new immersion helmet is put on the market, the game company also announces a contest with a $10 mill prize. When the MC finds the quest chain it’s no big deal, just about everyone is getting it. But when she figures out the first clue before most people then her friends enter a race to win the contest. Unfortunately, they stumble onto something shady along the way that put their real lives in danger.
The game stuff in the novel are completely spot on. The game mechanics are familiar but also fleshed out enough that you can pick out a class you’d like to play in this VR world. Personally, I think I’d go with the technomancer class.
There are tons of insider gamer jokes from both sci-fi games and MMOs. Heck the very first quest the MC is shown playing at the 1% mark reminded me of the stealth and sci fi stuff from Deus Ex. From there it’s a lot good world building of both the game universe and the real world. The story jumps from the MC playing the game slowly explaining the various mechanics, and lore, to showing her real life and building up her backstory and creating someone the reader can empathize with.
About the 25% mark, the contest stuff kicks in and the pace picks up as the MC and her friends find goal to their level grinding and gaming. This also about the point where you get hints of the thriller aspect in the story.
Overall, a good story. I never felt like the story was forced. Every decision, even some bad ones, felt natural for the characters to make. The quests, even the ones not related to the contest, are interesting and I never minded a single side quest. All round fun read. If you’re looking for a sci-fi story with a strong female lead, this is up your alley.
Score: 7 out of 10.