Shovels In Spades
- Traumatising content
We all have dreams of becoming powerful, becoming the cool mage that rules the world, living as the dashing rogue who can steal a kingdom's entire royal treasury undetected, or perhaps, the valiant knight whose prowess on the battlefield is unmatched by all.
However, when the apocalypse strikes, you can only use what you have at your disposal, be that guns, baseball bats, your fists, or maybe, just maybe, a shovel.
One young man who goes by the name of Darenzo has just had his world altered into one that is now the focal point of some sort of experiment.
Just at the end of his shift at the skip site, a worldwide announcement was made, that not only changed Darenzo's life, but also the lives of all of the Earth's inhabitants.
Can Darenzo survive and thrive in this changed world? Or will his growing madness best him? The answers to these questions can only be revealed with time.
[Goal of 2 chapters per week, the only exceptions being announced breaks or emergencies]
(The new cover art is a courtesy of the very kind and talented ssddx and was designed using the fanart cover of cthulupillar as the base.)
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My main issues with the novel are the MC's decisions on how to use his points, the way he acts, his personality, and the nonsense that goes throughout the whole story.
The story begins very nicely and the MC's reaction, to barricade where he's at, is logical and smart, I liked that. On the other hand, I didn't like that the people who survived are only those who held a weapon, why? Or the classes that do nothing at all to strengthen the person, and the MC consistently says that staying with that weapon will get you the best results - how so, exactly? And the rest of the "weapons" are complete crap, which in turn makes the fighting scenes of those people completely unrealistic.
The system points - The MC is just throwing it around like it's popcorn. He buys skills to help him deal with people, things that are not necessary, changing his heart to a core - that takes away sleep(really?), making him in need of crystals every day or two or he'll die, giving him no benefit at all for a big price point... oh man. It's like he doesn't care about survival at all; his choices are idiotic, to say the least. I understand if later on, he chooses to buy charisma and skills to deal with other people, but at the beginning survival and strength are much more important.
And the way he gets an astronomical amount of points from "God's interest" in him. I don't mind if one, maybe two gods show interest, it's fine, it makes sense, but when 14 gods show interest in him, and every time he gets a ton of points, that's a big no-no. It makes no sense, it's stupid, and it takes away all the fun and fulfillment we get from the achievements of the MC.
The army - Our MC meets a military base not far from his base that rescues people from the city and giving them shelter and protection. What does he do? Attacks them, threaten them, and blackmail them for some guns - which he doesn't even use because he doesn't trust his people with it. Why, just why would a person in his right mind do that?
The system - The system is one of the really good things in the story, it's well done and vast, it feels like it has endless possibilities for you to choose from, the base options are pretty good too and have a good amount of options and direction.
It was enjoyable at the beginning, but with time the MC's way of handling himself killed it for me.
I understood that you got quite offended by my review; it was never my intention to offend you, so I apologize for that. I tried to soften my message to be less offensive and added a few things I liked in the story, good luck.
First off, the intent of this review is primarily to analyse what I did not like about the story as I enjoyed a good deal of it and would like to see the author improve. Also understand that my only credentials are a healthy addiction to books and my own views. I am on chapter 40. This review contains spoilers.
That said, what truly kills this story is character development and world balance.
By 'WORLD BALANCE' I mean the degree that the rules of the story's world affect everyone else compared to the degree they affect the main character. I.e. How much plot armor the m.c. has. Mostly, this imbalance is displayed through the distribution of merit points. For example, the mc constantly attracts the attention of gods which nets him about 50k merit points every time. This is fine by itself, but he usually catches interest of said gods by doing very little. The god of madness, for example, is interested in him because he talks to a clearly intelligent and actively communicative golem. This is a problem because, as of ch.40 no one else has caught the attention of gods. One dude stabbed a wooden dummy until exhaustion and uses a syringe as his main weapon not to mention his fanatical loyalty and the god of madness doesn't care.
Another issue along the same vein is that the 40 survivors lead by the red haired lady "just barely" had enough merit points to buy the zombie cure at a cost of 1500. As evidenced by Ger's merit screen, simply surviving for 12 hours is a reward of 3000. Not only had those survivors lasted 24 hours, but they had done so under constant strain and even successfully killed several of the monsters. The red haired lady alone should have had thousands of points simply from extended resistance of the zombie virus while fighting zombies AND leading survivors the entire time.
The issue is that Dez's returns indicate that the system is incredibly generous with merit point and rewards basically everything, so it SHOULD be giving a lot of points to a lot of survivors. In a world where you can buy a permanent summon with enough strength to tear a bank vault door off its hinges for a paltry 7k, that means almost every survivor should be basically at Dez's level or at least close and have their own unique powers. They are not, and do not.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT is the other major failing of this story. It has many tie-ins with the issue of balance, but many characters have little to no depth. I think this is perfectly demonstrated by our main man Rimmy because he is actually VERY WELL DEVELOPED at this point in the story. RImmy is a huge crystal golem with a couple of slits for a face. Despite being completely unable to speak, Rimmy demonstrates through casual actions like giving the mic a thumbs up not only how he feels about complicated issues like murder, but also reveals that he both emphasizes with the mc's pain AND is familiar with social norms on how to cheer up a friend. It's brilliant. Add to that the novel idea of using identification to give characters a quick backstory and we basically know everything about a seven foot mute statue. If every side character was like that it'd be perfect.
Unfortunately, many of the other side characters feel forced. Ger, for example, at one point looks at his daughters interacting and says something along the lines of 'she likes to tease others but can't handle being teased herself'. This is a violation of that old adage 'show don't tell'. We'd already seen the daughter blushing at being teased so the information was useless. It would be like if Ger had seen Rimmy give Daz a thumbs up and monologued 'he is supportive of his friend'.
As a quick last example of the issue with character depth is the scene with Daz throwing the red haired woman into a door. The woman later forgives Daz immediately after he apologizes with some line like who couldn't forgive you in this situation? I apologize for being blunt but that makes absolutely no sense. Imagine if you were thrown into a door hard enough to take half your health. In the real world that might be equivalent to being grabbed by the hair and thrown hard enough to break ribs and perhaps cause internal bleeding. Would you just hop up and say 'oh no worries it happens every Sunday can we all go stay at your place?' Of course not. This woman is in charge of not only her own saftey but also 40 other people. She wouldn't risk those lives for some clearly violent stranger simply because he killed some mons. Daz had shown his strength so maybe she wouldn't demand compensation but she would be far more likely to simply thank Daz for his help then attempt to find he own base with the other survivors, especially since they apparently had someone with a skill to reinforce barricades. Why risk their lives with some apparently insane, violent stranger? On top of that, why would 40 other people want to follow someone who introduced himself by nearly killing their leader? These aren't a bunch of goblins who only follow the strongest but a scared group of day to day citizens who already had some semblance of confidence they could defend themselves?
overall I did like your story and especially in how thorough and creative you were with the system I was pleased, but I need more depth to my side characters yo.
EDIT:: I've read past chapter 40 a bit and was pleased to see that my review was somewhat premature. The author does much better on world balance than I thought.
When I read the first few chapters of this story it was pretty fun. And I was really looking forward to how it would develop and how Daz would adapt to his new world.
But as the story goes on I am starting to have the same issues with the MC that I do with the MC's of the other storys by this author. They dont react in a way that I feel a real person would in the same situation. And while it could just be that the MC is very unique.... I just dont see it.
Normally when reading a story of any kind I want to identify something with the MC. Have some kind of connection. And this story just doesnt have that connection.
A story to read while waiting for others to get updated but not something I would go out of my way to recommend to anyone. Definitely not something I would Patreon with how hard he seems to push it.
World building is good, characters are decent.
MC makes little sense, is inconsistant and illogical with little justification. He starts as a normal guy with social issues who is a bit unstable due to the stressful situation. He makes some illogical and foolish decisions afterwich the author explains he was a meglomeniacal sociopath bent on world domination all along.
Could be fixed with a rewrite to make the character more consistent.
Generally i would say the premise is not much different from the other Apocalyptic litRPG novels on this site, but it can hold on its own.
The story so far has been fine, through there were moments in book 1 and 2 that i did not like reading at all, and those books could be improved a lot, the later books have shown much improvement over the first 2, that it does even out. Through im waiting for the most likely incoming rewrite to form a final opinion on the first 2 books.
The characters, oh god, here we have the same problem as with the story. The MC at first is fine and quick at adapting to the Apocalypse and establishing his base, but later on his personality takes a large turn for the worse and near the end of book 1 the MC made a choice that really annoyed me. Took some time, but since then it got better, althrough that moment still remains as a problem for whoever is going to read this novel. The other characters are decent, but could be improved on althrough they are nowhere near as bad as the MC was near the end of book 1.
The writing of this story has been overall of a good quality, so no problems on that front althrough word choice could be better and some small mistakes fixed.
Keep writing like you are now, you have improved much since the start of this story, and please do keep improving since later chapters are so much better to read than the early ones.
I like the world, I like the way that the competition expands and the fight to protect the population while fighting your way higher in the rankings.
I can't stand the people. The personalities are one-note, never getting any deeper than a single character trait and shifting without any real explanation.
There's never significant tension. Challenges arise only to be immediately crushed, and by a little bit into the second book (where the author said it would get better) the protagonist has mind control powers, the best base in the world, is super strong, has ladies falling over themselves around him, men worshipping him... it's wish fulfillment that never goes anywhere. "Oh, there's a dungeon? Let me just waltz in and crush it, no problems!" "Oh, there's a rival base nearby? Let me mind control the leader there!"
There is neither buildup nor payoff, and I'm done.
The premise is good and the story is fun, but all of the characters feel half-assed and they don't feel like real people. Grammar is pretty good with few errors.
If you like litrpg, you're likely to enjoy this, just don't go into it expecting too much.
Fun read, if still a bit short at this point.
I look forward to future chapters.
Even if the MC's name does make me feel like it should belong to a muppet.
Not that I'm really criticizing. It's seriously hard to come up with names that are somewhat original.
I mean, I read this one story with a MC named Randidly.I couldn't help but think that the poor kid's school life must have been hell.
*Stares hard at random space*
That's right, I'm talking about you Ghosthound.
Trying to avoid spoilers
Alright there are two big reasons I stopped reading this story shortly after getting to book 2. Upfront this is a pretty good book, it has some rough edges however I have noticed an increase in quality. Firstly the military is just... wrong. While it’s probably not the authors fault since most civilians barely know anything about the military, but because I know a great deal about the military reading their parts is like having a migraine and a massive cringe along with wanting to strangle something all at once for me. Again not really the authors fault it’s just very far off the actual real world U.S. military. Secondly I despise the mc’s character. This is not due to bad writing or the mc being an idiot ( he made some mistakes but he ain’t stupid). It is because his character and actions make me genuinly disgusted with him. Many other readers really like the guy and that’s ok, but to me he is someone that once I understood what kind of person he is I would never to try to befriend. I won’t put any spoilers since the military one is already one to many but I just can’t root for the guy. I wish this story and its author good luck but I will not be sticking around to see how it goes.
I really like the system/base building setup you have going on. Everything else is pretty bad
The MC's magic power is always going with his gut and it being correct. So no choice he makes has to be logical because he can always feel out the best answer.
The characters love him for being a sociopath.
The trope that he is the son of the strongest esper, who is also in charge of the mafia, who is also one of the leaders of this new world.