Carn Online: Second Chances

by D.H.Hansen

Original ONGOING Adventure Drama Sci-fi Cyberpunk LitRPG Reincarnation Strategy Virtual Reality
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Traumatising content

The future belongs to the rich. Corporations make the laws, while the poor are forced into medically-induced comas, all in the name of profits. The impoverished flock to a hero who vowed to fight back—not in the real world, but in immersive games. In these virtual competitions, the ultimate prize holds the key to changing the world.

Damian was one of the penniless, a follower of the hero's revolution. A former teacher turned analyst, Damian gave everything to help the hero, but in the end, the hero was a lie. The corporations created him as a pawn to hold the rebellion in check. When Damian tried to reveal the truth, the corporations had him executed— but it didn't work. Damian didn't die, but woke up alive, six years in the past.

Neither a warrior nor rich, but equipped with knowledge of the future, Damian has a second chance to take down the "hero" and the corporations.

//This synopsis was created with help from the amazing Etzoli, please check out her work.\\

This story will update Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday every week. Interludes will be released as bonus chapters.

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D.H.Hansen

D.H.Hansen

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HJekyll
  • Overall Score

The story is there, but the humanity isn't.

Reviewed at: Chapter 21 - Shopping Spree
This is a great litrpg story for those of us who like crunching numbers, and slow but steady progress. The trouble is how the characters interact with each other.
 
Everyone is always scowling, or snarling, or shouting at each other. Do a control f search for "snarled" in any chapter and you'll see what I mean. Think back to the last time you interacted with someone you hated. Just absolutely could not stand. Did you shout at them? Sneer at them? Did they do that to you?
 
People just don't interact with each other that way. As a society, in public at least, we are generally civil. It kills the immersion to have everyone in the story shouting mad, all the time.
Gobbo
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Good Story Ruined By A Bad Author

Reviewed at: Epilogue I - Not So Special

It’s pretty mediocre, but not bad, but still pretty bland honestly, until the author gets to epilogue 1 and throws the whole vibe of everything out the window, makes the edgiest possible villain they could think of, ruins the main character’s character, then acts like nothing is wrong turning it from a solid 3 to 4 stars to less than 1. Only thing it has goin for it is world building. 

some_total_kretin
  • Overall Score

 UPDATE: OK, here it is. Time to change my review. I hate doing it because it feels like I'm going to defecate into someone's chocolate sherbet, but I feel the need. So here goes.

TL;DR: Enjoyable read that "done the twist" to groundhog day premise re-enacted as psychological thriller in an epilogue of book I.

This novel has a promising start. All of the boxes are slowly ticked as our hero gets reincarnated, completes his team and starts playing. 

At the start I have a few petty niggles about a convoluted premise but otherwise it's readable and (at least for me) gripping variation on the standard stuff, that stratches all the right spots.

And then the warning signs of drama start popping up in conversations. Conversations that slowly shift from dialogues to arguments. Then the classical trope of sociopathically villainous guildmaster enemy finally starts playing itself up. So far so good. The MC and his motley crew can survive it and overcome that.

And then comes the epilogue of first book, with what I call the SHYAMALAN TWIST. It's a phenomenom where all the little clues combine together to reveal something you partially expected, but precisely not like THAT.

It's like when a couple of kids found a dead body and that psychopathical weird kid starts doing stupid shit with it. You expect him to poke it with a stick, maybe throw a piece of the body at someone, but you certainly do not expect him to engage in a bout of necrophiliac bestiality with the corpse in plain view of everyone...

In a bout of really tortured metapor, that is exactly what the epilogue does here. And I don't like the resulting twist. It had basically gone from partly cloudy but enjoyable narrative to full on groundhog day by way of psychological thriller. Sigh.

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ORIGINAL:

I like reviewing online novels. It's like being five years old all over again and having everything proof shield and a pillow fortress to hide in so you can sling rotten tomatoes at unsuspecting passerbys you deem worthy of a sudden stink bomb. Or shooting the fish in a barrel. Or watching the happily unsuspecting badly written online novel run across a meadow in full bloom as you slowly load your blunderbluss with salt shot while cackling maniacally.

Hehehe....HA HA HA...Hehe

Now, where did I put the damn salt...?

TL;DR: Standard premise of  Do-over LitMMOPRG done from the point of noncombat (at least during the first arc) MC guildmaster with seemingly good characters by an author who either played a lot of D&D or has a secret desire to be an insurance agent. Oh, almost forgot about a a bit more moderate tone. Good enough.

Carn online is another attempt at the "Do-Over litMMORPG" that every asian web novel author and the dog they had not yet eaten butchered at least once in last few years.

It's hard to tell if the style is western or eastern, but I'd say it's western-ish enough. Or it has more western feel. The fact one of the characters is samurai-inspired and the villain is almost chinese in it's sociopathic young-master-who-has-to-get-everything-he-wants-over-everybody-else notwithstanding.

The exposition is luckilly not done in a large wall of text. Instead the author chose the gradual exposition wrapped in conversation and cut to several pieces intruduced during or just before the event/activity they are related to.

I still found myself slipping and just skimming over paragraphs several times and the odds for success (at least the written ones) will surprise you in how low they are. Still, every mechanic is over time painstakingly explained in a way that made my eyes almost glaze over. Well, I'm sure the accountants, insurance agents and D&D cave masters will love it.

The premise is well enough executed to be almost believable, but still extremely contrived. I still don't know about any reason why you'd put the poor into medically induced coma other than the one introduced by the Matrix movies and can't imagine important incriminating emails would be forwarded to our MC like it happened here.

The MC is adult and acts like one. Well, at least adult enough by my standards. And the side characters can hold their own and have their own motivation - for the few chapters that are out by the time I'm writing this.

What I'm curious is how long can the author keep going, because the premise gives us the general timespan of more than six years and spanning several genres. It will be insteresting to see what happens when the first inevitable crisis strikes.

Rexmundi
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Unoriginal, predictable, poor character development, decent world building

Reviewed at: Chapter 21 - Shopping Spree

Protagonist does literally everything right, is morally perfect and completely unrealistic. Antagonists are unreasonably fixed on the protagonist, moraly depraved and completely unrealistic. In short the characters suffer from the lack of  actual realistic characteristics and behavior. The world building is okay but predictable and unoriginal. If you like reading an endless grind of comparable items (item name changes, bonusses change but it's basically the same) read this, if not don't bother.

Nazura
  • Overall Score

Had potential, ruined by unrealistic mc

Reviewed at: Chapter 19 - Degrees of Truth

Really good world building. Unrealistic characters, trying too much to give them depth that you ruin the story.

I liked the story up to chapter ~19, but I couldn't handle how dumb the mc is anymore.

MC's people handling skills are non-existent. His plans plain dumb.

Sad to drop this one, it had a lot of potential.

rusticsoldier
  • Overall Score

The story was the nice type of second chance story you love to read about. I enjoyed it. The mc has a lot of things i like about him. Not the smartest man out there. Kind of a tool. A little immature but completly humanized and relatable. The epilogue  gave a twist into a type of murder mystery slash open warfare. Really taking the story out of the orginal direction.  The author has a thin skin as well so remember never critique him. He takes it personally. 

Allen Clark Copeland, Jr.
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Nice, needs a bit of work but it is engaging.

Reviewed at: Chapter 17 - New Faces

I like it. The challenge Damien faces isn't the game itself, but the effect his small ripples in time have on the outcome.

You can tell when a chapter has not been edited. There are numerous grammatical and tense errors.  Not enough to confuse the intent but enough to make you scratch your head for a moment before moving on.

The characters seem to be a bit odd.

I expected Hansen to take Kira further as a character given the emphasis on her ability to train. We have a brief bit where she trains them and they get better. Though I suppose this is more a craft grind fest than a story about intense battles, so I'll give him that one.

The interactions with the Bears seem artifical, sure there are idiots in games that p0wn n00bs, but these show no indication of intelligence. If they're willing to spend money on the game, I would expect them to do a little research before attacking someone a third time. "We have more people, we crush them," is a bit neanderthal. If they know that Ed is a summoner he would be a priority target. If he's not summoning, there's something unusual afoot.

The angst the hack brought forth seemed like a forced ploy to reveal the MC's big secret. I don't know what judge would stake their career on approving a warrant when a company says they weren't hacked and they found no evidence of hacking.

Perhaps another issue I have with the characters is that Hansen tells us the traits of the characters instead of showing us. Sometimes he does both.

These are not unsurmountable odds though. The story's engaging and fun for the most part. I look forward to more and hope this makes it to book form so some of the oddities can be hammered out.

Nomad1791
  • Overall Score

Kinda confusing but we'll written

Reviewed at: Epilogue I - Not So Special

Read up to current chapter, seriously don't understand what's happening anymore. The MC isn't bad but the side characters are a little too ass-holish to be believable. Guy saves you from what's basically promised storage death and you question his every breath and move?! Literally zero trust to the guy that saved you?! That's my only real complaint story is easy to read, well written, world building is solid, and no way to easy to guess what's happening. 

Commando2342
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Plot twist taken too far, amidst overdone sitcom drama

Reviewed at: Epilogue I - Not So Special

This story had a lot of good elements, specifically with world building, but there was far too much interpersonal drama introduced towards the end of Book 1 and the epilogue to book 1 introduced an edgy, asshole villain that throws the entire premise of the story from The little man fighting against corrupt corporations” to “Hero fighting against immortal reincarnating villain that tortures people for a millennia based on a grudge.”

It’s such a drastic tone shift that I cannot read it anymore.

 

Ray The Red
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Carn Online started off alright, with a classic set-up we've all heard before. It wasn't doing anything special, per se, but it was hitting the rights notes; the MC has a concrete goal, doesn't go it alone, and plans to take advatage of his future knowledge. It was looking to be a slow burn, with some solid world building and good number crunches, and I must give props for making the crafting fun. The character interactions are by far the weakest part of the whole thing though, especially as the author eschews subtlety entirely by the last few chapters of the first novel - not to even speak of the Epilogue. 

Honestly, I have no clue why the author thought it a good idea to waste not one but two villains with a single stroke, as well as removing any and all intrigue from the the table. What little nuance there was, and there was precious little to begin with given we already had evil corporations and a brutish and sadistic guild leader, is erased with Marcus. I won't spoil it but suffice to say that the revelations in the Epilogue come completely out of left field - and not in a good way, either. 

Where I'd been able to power on through the amateurishly handled drama of the buid up, there was no such inclination for the amount of stupid that was crammed in that one chapter. It was an instant turn off for me, and quite violently so. It's quite dissapointing really, because while Carn Online had never been without its flaws, it had at least been enjoyable despite them but nothing can save it now - at least as far as I'm concerened. If nothing else, though, it does show one how to waste any and all suspension of disbelief.