Sean Marrow is desperate to enter The Everlands, a recently released, ground-breaking VR game that is all everyone's talking about. He's so desperate that, despite being underage, he sneaks into a gaming lounge just for a chance to play.
The Everlands has everything he'd hoped for: daring quests, wicked monsters, and more than a few intriguing women. But Marrow is also in danger. For reasons he doesn’t understand, the gods of the Everlands are in conflict, and he’s caught in the middle of it.
Stuck in the game, Marrow has to quickly gain power in order to discover the reason behind the game of the gods, and put an end to it before the Everlands are destroyed — and Marrow along with them.
My Opinion: 262 pages, $3.99, Available on Kindle Unlimited
Full disclosure: The author sent me an advanced copy for review. I purchased it once it became available.
The novel opens with this frustrating cyber punk theme where a player in a full immersion game can’t log out. The game company apparently can’t do anything to help, so they send someone into the game to solve the problem from there. It’s a theme I find frustrating to read because it implies that the people that created the game, the AI, and all the code don’t have the power to fix something.
Thankfully, that theme doesn’t continue past the 5% of the story. Instead, the novel is a trapped in the game, slice of life story. Where the main character (MC), Marrow, is a teen that breaks into a game club to play this hot new 21 and over only game, Everlands. Once there, he really just goes on a bunch of adventures, gets XP, levels, and explores the kind of build he wants to make. There is a minor theme of him being stuck in the game eventually. But it’s something that we’re reminded of only occasionally.
About the 26% mark, the story plot begins to show. The MC gets a dark quest to poison the temple of a rival god. It's the first time in the story that I got interested. Before this the story was ok, but it wasn’t really interesting. It was just a teen doing stuff. But then it returns to the seemingly random quests and introduces an NPC guide, who’s only ultimate purpose is to be a kind of forced romantic interest and a heart string pull near the end of the story. It’s not until the 70% mark that the story gets interesting again and picks up on that dark quest line. There are themes of emergent A.I., plots among the gods, betrayals, and more. The rest of the story is good and interesting and follows up with the consequences of that quest. It has a couple interesting twist.
However, outside those places, the story wasn’t particularly interesting. Much of the rest of the story felt like filler, getting the MC levels and doing a minor amount of world building. There was also an unusual amount of times the MC was magically saved from death by some suddenly arriving outside force. Why couldn’t the MC die? I don’t know. But outside the 1st two times he did so at the beginning of the novel, he doesn’t. Which is weird because it’s a game and there weren’t heavy penalties for dying.
Overall, I really liked the last 30% of this novel. Also, the game mechanics have the potential for some very interesting builds since they don’t restrict players to the usual class system. But I was sort of bored for a lot of the story. I actually fell asleep twice while reading it. Even though I think the end was good and the series might have some potential, I can’t ignore that a lot of it just put me to sleep.
Score: 5 out of 10