LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 035 - Couch Potato Chaos, Somnia Online Bk 3, War Aeternus Bk 4, Far Cry: Absolution
LitRPG Audiobook Podcast 035 - Couch Potato Chaos, Somnia Online Bk 3, War Aeternus Bk 4, Far Cry: Absolution
“Hello everyone. Welcome to the LitRPG Audiobook Podcast. I’m Ray. I’ll be reviewing some recent and classic LitRPG Audiobooks for you. I’ll begin with: ”
Couch Potato Chaos: Gamebound (00:26)
Score: 7.7 out of 10
Score: 8.3 out of 10
Score: 8.8 out of 10
Game Worlds Segment - Far Cry: Absolution (44:34)
Couch Potato Chaos: Gamebound
By: Erik Rounds
Narrated by: Sarah Sampino
Length: 17 hrs and 39 mins
When I first saw this title I said, finally, someone has written a book for me. I am a loud proud and avowed couch potato. So. I was intrigued. The story is one that you see in nearly every LITRPG novel, a gamer gets sucked into a game, but I have to say that it has a few aspects that differentiated itself right out of the gate.
The book centers on an unassuming young lady who is over worked, under appreciated, and underpaid, who is given an option when she is heading home one night. She can either follow one route to excitement and adventure or follow the other path back to warmth and comfort. I have to say that this was pivotal moment for me as a listener, because if she had followed the path to adventure I would have called shenanigans and gone my merry way. No real couch potato, regardless of gaming love or experience, would EVER go somewhere that required exercise. So, that hurdle jumped my suspension of disbelief became solid and I settled into the story.
The book takes its gaming stuff in a neat direction with the couch potato class that the MC, Tasha, is granted. Her abilities and strengths fluxuate by how entertained she is. I just picture Russell Crowe screaming, “Are you not entertained?”. So, she also has to make herself happy in order to enjoy the full benefits of the class. I wasn’t wowed by the variations that made the game about earning hearts and magic vials, but I was absolutely blown away by the ramifications of death and respawn. It made the whole concept creepy and not something that you’d just shrug off as another death. In fact, I think that was my favorite gaming aspect of the book. I think it was smart and well played. I also enjoyed the stat shuffling ability, but I think that it was underplayed, and should have been used more.
The book has some hit or miss humor, bouncing from jokes to parody, but it does pay homage to a lot of games and pop culture. Overall the book becomes what is often referred to as a slice of life piece, and I am not a fan of life slices unless it comes from Dexter Morgan. My only real complaint came from the portrayal of autism in the book. Speaking as the father of two children with autism I don’t think that Erik knows how it works. I will humbly apologize if you have kids or someone close to you with the illness but it did not come across like you were familiar with it, and had only read about it. It just looked like the perspective of someone who sort of has an idea of what it is, rather than having an understanding about it. Still, that did not taint my perspective of the novel overall. I will say that the book did seem like it needed some trimming, as it was rather long and there were some things that felt like they’d been tossed in just to make sure they got into the book. I think for a debut novel the book should have been about half its size, so that it could have flowed much easier and not felt like things had just been injected for the sake if getting it in. I will say that it has some really good secondary characters
The narration is pretty good. I was not familiar with Sarah Sampino prior to this, but I think she did an excellent job. The only issues I had were that on occasion I had a little difficulty telling part who was speaking until it was sentence tagged, as in Ari or Pan said . . . . Her style and delivery were nice, and she was pleasant to listen to as she told the story.
Final score is a 7.7, with one extra point tossed in for a War Aeternus shout out. I think there is a lot of potential for the next book, I would just cut it back a bit. Oh, and watch it with those cliffhangers!
Somnia Online, Book 3
By: K.T. Hanna
Narrated by: Andrea Parsneau
Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins
Whelp, we make it back to the land of Somnia, and things have really improved. If you saw my review of the last book you’d know that one of my biggest issues was the war that Murmur just snapped over her predicament and how it sort of drove the entire story. Well, good news, while we see a few brief glimpses of her anger over how she was treated for the most part, this book just gets back into the business of her leveling and learning bits and secrets of the world she is trapped in. Honestly, this is the way the last book should have gone. Murmur’s acceptance could have come a lot sooner and the way she dealt with her coming to terms with things.
As things go, the book picks up where the last one left off, but also picks up its tone. To me the last book was really about some self pity and misplaced anger. This book returns to the hopeful Murmur that I really enjoyed before. The other characters also transition from background people to actually having some sort of personalities and depth other than protect Mumur. Not that they weren’t developed before, but here they all get chances to shine.
Mur and her team tackle two dungeons, in search of some keys to the world that will provide them with greater power to deal with upcoming events. I want to stress that is a pleasant surprise to not just get hampered down with the usual smash and slash mentality that usually infuses LIT novels. The characters actually think and use their heads in order to succeed. It’s nice to get that, even though I can respect the other just as much. I like a good beheading just as much as seeing someone use their head in a game.
Its also nice to see Hanna changing the game up with the AI stuff as well. There is far more afoot than even the top game controllers seem to know, which means either things are really going pear shaped in the game, or one of the AI’s is flat out lying about what they know. If it’s the latter I know everyone is going to be putting their money on a certain crazy AI who just wants to eat braiiiiiiins, but I don’t think he is that sneaky.
Either way, this story has some real depth, and the danger that Mur is in continues to grow, both inside and outside of the game world. She is only partially aware of what is really going on around her and of all the plots that stand to kill her permanently one way or another. I think Hanna really got her footing back with this story, and that’s not to say that she didn’t do well on book two, but you can plainly see that she gained her traction back with this book. The characters all pop, the plot is no longer derailed by Murmur’s anger, and seems amped up with the growth that she is finally beginning to display. While Mur seems to grow more in levels than she does emotionally this book finally gives us both, and it was pretty cool. I enjoyed this.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat myself here. Andrea Parsenau just continues to grow as a narrator. The woman can infuse so much emotion into the most minute dialogue that it forces me to say that not all of the best actors are on screen or win academy awards. She vocally animates this book, and brings it to life in a way that is rarely captured on screen. For an audiobook it is absolutely magical. She makes me see facial expressions that are fully realized when a character speaks, and she can drive a scene like Mario Andretti in the Mach 5. I apologize to anyone under the age of thirty that did not get that reference. All I can say is look it up. Point is this lady is true master vocalist and she can tell a story.
Final score is an 8.3 stars. This serialized novel finally feels like it has a purpose and a direction that the first one had, and I am glad to see it get some serious legs.
And my SoundBooth Spotlight for this week is . . . . . . . . . .duhn duhn dhun!
Harbinger of Ash: War Aeternus, Book 4
By: Charles Dean
Narrated by: Jeff Hays, Annie Ellicott
Length: 14 hrs and 37 mins
Dean definitely darkens the tone of book four, but in a good way. I think that Lee is his moral sounding board, and lets him see what he can get away with, for example in the last novel he went to a point where the weak were killed. Here, he forces Lee to do terrible things all in the name of goodness. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I think that this is the way Dean drives that point home.
In the last novel a new character, Jade, was introduced and I know that she is a character that Charles loves, but I also know that there are some people that don’t share that sentiment. I like Jade, but then she is pretty similar to a character from the Bathrobe Knight series that my kids and I absolutely loved. I think that she really grows as a character in this book, and a lot of her personality is explained that really helps to flesh her out and will probably change some minds. Lee is coming to terms with the fact that he’s not only going to have to do some dastardly crap before his time in the game is up, and that includes the possibility of him cheating on Mosha.
This book has a lot going on in it. There is a pretty out of the blue revelation regarding Mosha’s father, and there are a couple of amazing characters that show up named Johnson and Ray who just steal the show in every scene. On a serious note, this book never slowed down, and when they weren’t fighting there was intrigue among the gods, Lee finally meets some relatives, and he comes to see Jade in a new light. We get Brigid to return, meet one of her relatives, and get to deal with a new crazy herald that makes Freddy Krueger look like a Sunday school teacher.
I’ll hand it to Dean, the writing is tight, fast paced, and quick witted. All of the jokes land and stick it. This is some of his best work, and I’d say that putting him up against anyone in the field. The series only continues to improve as we roll along. I think my favorite part of the book was seeing how the dishonorable trait functioned, and exactly how it impacted his actions. It was hilarious and made me laugh outloud. It is little stuff like that that is so well thought out and adds to the series in just a minor but impactful way that makes this series standout to me. I believe that his dishonorable trait is going to play a much larger role later one.
So, I want to talk about Soundbooth. They do such an amazing job here. There are dream sequences that have this eerie background noise that is hyper effective in amping up the raw creepiness factor. Their sound effects work rather sublimely, and the Miller Shout, for example literally rolls through the air like it is on surround sound. Jeff and Annie really bring out the angst of their characters, but they also make the verbal banter and repartee fun. Jeff absolutely knows how to read a humorous scene and then flip over to pissed off in the next breath. He’s got Olympic level verbal gymnastic skills. Annie blows Brigid out of the water with a mix of humility and honor. I think the scene in which Brigid confronts Lee about their emotions is uber powerful. That’s romance writing right there. Of course, I’m still on team Mosha.
The only setback for me, and I’ve said it before, was the lack of Miller. We get lots of Dave, but Miller just kind of pops up rather than being part of the ride along. I need more Miller. The world needs more Miller.
My final score is an 8.8. I enjoyed this a lot, but the internal debate that Lee has over his women could have been cut back a bit. I know he’s struggling, but it isn’t fun to hear someone lament that they will have to end up sleeping with tons of hot chicks and they regret it. Still, an amazing read. I can’t wait for the next one.
Far Cry: Absolution
By: Urban Waite
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
Length: 7 hrs and 37 mins
Awright, awright, awright. This is the first official Game Worlds segment, where I look at actual books that are connected in some way to games, be they board or video. So, I’m not sure, but I think Ramon played the clip of me playing some Farcry 5. You can tell it was me because of my massive amount of suckage. I asked my son to record me playing, and he just focused on the game, but it was me. Anyway, it is a fun game, although I do have a hard time driving.
The book, if I can focus on that is a prequel to FC5, and it does a good job of setting things up for you as to what is exactly going on, and what your character in the game will be facing, I actually suggest that you read this before you play, rather than after. That was NOT how I did it, and you can look at it one of two ways. One, I pretty much knew who was and wasn’t going to make it, since dead people tend to not pop up during gameplay in a non-supernatural shooter. So, you won’t wonder who makes it and who doesn’t. Or you can just look at it as a bit of fluff and fun to help flesh out the game world.
I myself feel like the book had much more menace than the game, and it was really dark. The book held no joy. This felt like Deliverance cranked up to 11 with some backwards bumpkins using religion to Ned Beatty the town they lived in. If you know the reference you know what Imma talkin about. If not, look it up. It’ll make this even more creepy.
The book focuses on a fella who is on the fringe of the cult, and has never really become a part of it. He’s ex-military, an expert tracker, and a decent shot. His name is Will, and the story centers on his struggle to come to term with how he maintains a relationship with the insane cult in spite of his self denial of what they do. He knows they aren’t right in their heads, but can’t quite seem to step away from them either. Now, you can look at the book one of two ways. First is that it is just fluff meant to build up some stuff to flesh out your understanding of what the goes on in the game, or you can look at it as a nice stand alone novel. See, the book really doesn’t fill you in on what you’d expect, which would maybe be the rise of John Seed and how he garnered so much power. That is only tangently explained at best, and centers on how the cult began to exert its power.
The book, to me, is pretty powerful and well written. I enjoyed many aspects, when I really just expected fluff. I think Urban Waite is a great writer, who knows how to channel perspective filled with emotion. The only downside to the novel is that it doesn’t really have much to do with the gameplay. No big reveals or revelations, no impact at all. A few name changes and it could have been a novel unto itself. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, but it did have a generic feel to it. It wasn’t exactly specific to Far Cry, unlike a book about 5 nights at freddy’s would have to be.
The narration fits the storyline. It sounds like it is being told from the perspective of a grizzled old Vietnam vet who pretty much just wants to live alone and forget the world outside of him. The problem is that while it completely fits the character of Will, it can also come across as more than a little monotone to some people. While I enjoyed it, I have to admit that the direction to use Will’s voice for the entire novel might have been a bad idea.
Overall, I do believe the story is worthwhile, especially if you want to get a better idea of events that transpire just prior to you starting out as a nameless deputy. As a tie in though, I have to say that the tale, while really well written, is fairly generic in the manner that it could have been a novel unto itself with a few changes here and there and just told great story about an average everyday doomsday cult.
I’d say that if you like Far Cry then give it a listen and enjoy. If not then the book probably won’t provide much interest because it really had no game play elements to it at all. You’d never know that it was set in a Game World.
Thanks oh so very much for watching everyone, I do appreciate you taking to the time to watch or listen to the show. If you want to support us, you can like the LitRPG Podcast facebook page or the YouTube Page, or just share and like the video. I’m going to ask for more suggestions for the Is it LIT segment, I’ve got a good one for next time, but will always need ideas. Please leave comments or suggestions in the comments below, and feel free to tell me whatever you like. I enjoy the feedback.
For LitRPG Audiobook Podcast, I’m Ray. Keep listening!!!
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