Viridian Gate: Cataclysm, Book 1
Power plays, forced adventures, and of course this is all piled high with comedic dialogue and wacky journeys. When thinking back on this book, the first word that comes to mind is deceptive. This is because of the way the story-line creeps up on you as your thoughts start to drift off and think those thoughts of a “cookie-cutter” story. This first book pulls you in, but not by the ways you think. Sure there is over the top action, interesting characters, and a stable if not sporadic story, but the gem of this whole cluster of a book is…the monologues. Of course this is just a matter of opinion, but I’m lucky enough to be writing this so my opinion is the only one that matters (joking, kind of…).
The Main Character (MC):
First, Jack is by far the most “plain Jane” main character I’ve ever seen, and I love him all the more for it. He’s in his game, not to be all knowing, or all powerful. In truth he just wants to be all…normal, as crazy as that sounds within a virtual world. I could be playing favorites because he wants to be a magic user, but loves beating people with a war hammer (I know right?!?) but, everyone has their favorites. I believe it’s polarizing because its so different. He gets into this world and can’t tell the NPC’s from real people unless they actually tell him, which happens more than once, and then the mystery is solved. I know in hindsight it might seem like something small but the fact that the author made the MC question each and every character’s actual existence is pretty important within this first book and later on.
The way he experiences pain and other sensations is top notch LitRPG writing. He feels everything in “real time”. Meaning, he feels everything as if he was within the real world. There isn’t any funny sensations, nor dulling of the pain unless he sets it that way, which in itself is a hassle. He lets himself forget about the differences between realities for varies reasons and falls into the process of progression. While listening to the audio book I had to remember he’s within the VR and not the real world there were so many “real world” references that sometimes the lines were blurred in a good way.
Story and Writing:
The story is quite well written, its simplistic nature gives strength to the main and secondary characters interaction. There might be different accents or ways of life, but everything is straight forward with a couple of twists and turns without setting the book into boring-ville. The main premise has the dystonia feel as the drive for full VR emergence, which is something that caught my eye. When dealing with LitRPG, a good number of authors go with the “Stuck in the game” approach as I’ve seen it. Or with the “big questing and adventure” angle for diving into the game; however, few have done the “life or death” situation. The situation was executed quite nicely and wasn’t strung along as the foundation of the story, thank God. The story unfolds as any given D&D like adventure would. The reader is given an old school vibe with adventure, death defying feats, friends, potential love interest, and surprising twists.
I’ve personally had many talks with the author and it seems like this series takes its own ideals/soul and then mixes it with other concepts I’ve seen in other books within the same genre. These come into in an amazing recipe I call a budding masterpiece. The story captures your attention, but the writing makes you want to kick your feet up and stay a while. The twists throughout the story leaves you wondering until the next pages when they are solved. Before you know it, another one comes and takes its place. In this way the story remains fresh, new, and innovative throughout the book with no clue when its going to stop.
The World is built beautifully, with busy streets, towering buildings and deep, dark forests with dangers lurking around every corner. I believe since I listened to the audio version, the World building was greatly assisted but still with the details in the environment. Even within the mist of action was almost overwhelming at times. The NPC’s interacted with each other so fluidly that there wouldn’t be any difference between those and the real players if the monologues weren’t giving it away throughout the story. The author gave them their own lives, personalities, and faults down the one liners, indecisiveness and impulses. I’d have more to say about the World if it weren’t so importantly tired into the story-line, and has gone far beyond it.
Five out of five stars. I tend to grade books harder once I’ve known the author, his/her intentions with the series, and having a quick interview. I’ve seen Mr. Hunter’s work, as well as his passion for his series and think this is no different. He as pressed his heart and soul into this and is continuing to travel farther and farther. I can’t wait for the next audio book of this, I might just have to pick up the eBook, sit down, and have a couple hours of full emergence.
Here is a line to Mr. Hunter’s site! Look around, interact with him, and of course support him!