Capo: Rise of a Gang Lord
by Morgan Cole
Book 1 is now complete. Book 2 being posted.
Frank is on his way to his D&D game when he gets caught up in a meth head's convenience store robbery.
While trying to escape he is shot in the back at close range and everything goes black. When he wakes up he's not in a hospital or the afterlife—he's in a different city entirely, one called San Tadeo.
Things are different in San Tadeo. Frank has a status sheet, and he can see people's names and jobs just by looking at them (unless they're walking in Shadow). Even more than in the real world, Cash Rules Everything.
With his real life behind him and his only friend a high-school weed dealer, Frank has the freedom to make new choices and set new goals. What does he want? He wants it all.
If you've always wanted a Gamelit set in a GTA-style world, here you go.
Schedule: Back to releasing new chapters. Not a lot extra banked, but going to try to do 3/week. We'll see how it goes.
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I only placed this at 4 stars due to 2 reasons. 1: I don't really like giving 5 stars and 2: At the point I'm reviewing it's only 30 chapters in but I gotta say so far I'm hooked. I love the more realistic take on the genre and the fact you can actually feel the tension. Honestly if this book keeps getting better by chapter 100 I'd absolutely give a more in-depth review and likely end up close to 5 stars. My only small critique is the grammar in some parts I'm not one to really talk since I have alot of problems with that as well. I honestly hope this book keeps getting better and better.
I know people are going to disagree, but it deserves to be said. The story just doesn't seem to hold up. Its like everything is held together by a single thread and when I pulled on it, it all sort of unraveled in my mind.
Now you may be asking what do I mean by this. So I'll try to make my point without giving spoilers.
1) The job system and skills - Where are all the skills that I should be hearing about. Student skills, fry cook skills, police skills, ect. It was hinted his uncle had a skill but never proven. I feel like he would try to gain skills beyond just the skills he got for dealing and that people would be using them more often. Like robbery skills maybe? (ie hipster magnus)
2)Money will have inherent value in this world beyond what is possible in this one. Gold would actually be worth less as it would advance skills. People would make less at their jobs and goods would be worth less to them than us. There is also the whole conservation of energy thing with disappearing money and how does money get created an lost or whatever but thats a rabbit hole.
3)The main character is unlikable. Straight up and simple. People like to romanticize crime but in reality its dirty, brutal, and for the desperate or dumb. The hesitation to commit crime at the beginning was what brought me in, too bad that changed ridiculously fast. Some may say he was pushed into it but they could have just walked away from that deal with Tong and Manny could have come back with more money later. Tong even told him to do just that.
Now a few good things:
1)The Mirror was an excellent idea. I love that system and would love it even more if you shored it up and consolidated with iron-clad laws on how it works.
2)Job progression is always interesting. It keeps me interested and shows that there is room for growth. 0 to hero style.
3)The world before computers. How did we ever live there. Great idea.
These pro's and con's are just the 3 major things I decided to point out. Great idea but mediocre exectution.
Capo's worldbuding is impressive and unique, but the characters are your somewhat regular teenage boys which is what makes their story both heart breaking and mesmerizing.
Frank/Mack is no genius tactician and manipulater. No, he bumbles, makes idiotic choices, and causes situations that will come back later (true, the ruckus is half the fun, but still) to haunt him.
That's a big part of why Frank/Mack is so compelling. Because we know he'll either be a statistic on the death toll that gang violence causes...or the next big, bad, super scary gangster boss. And since he's the protagonist, we all assume the latter.
We watch as he becomes colder and more ruthless, more willing to do whatever he needs to do to survive.
I liked Frank's uncle, the army man. I can see why a teenager would find him overbearing and irritating, but at heart he had Frank's wellbeing in mind. Yes, he went about several things badly, and yes, he was a bit of a goat at times. I was sad to see how their relationship played out, and what's scary is how I found it somewhat realistic.
Manny was an interesting conundrum. We have a clever boy who's short sightedness may mess his future up. Drug peddling is not the answer, kids. The relaism of his situation as well hit home hard. He's a good foil for Frank, because he's a glimpse of someone who really has more options, but is choosing a bad path to go down.
The real gold (ha!) in Capo is the worldbuilding, as I mentioned. Mr. Cole, you already proved that gangsters can be a subgenere to the whole Isekai/GameLit/LitRpg genre when you started this story.
I've had a bone to pick for a while now, in how most of the genre uses violence and death as the means to level up, but you took a bold step in a new direction. What we place value on is often what people use to shape themselves with.
I love the light and dark sides of the mirror. It's reminiscent of the movie The Departed. I like how people can legitimately have two sides of themselves and the system reflects that.
Mr. Cole, keep up the good work!
Good interesting story so far. The writing is good and the other characters are reasonably represented. Will need a bit longer to see how the story develops to see if this can become a 5 star classic.
This story is such a breath of fresh air! I really love it. Please keep it up!
Really love the GTA+System you have going. Keep up the great work!!!
It’s obvious from the get-go, even without knowing the author has a lot of experience in the LitRPG genre, that this story knows what it’s doing and where it’s going. It’s pretty refreshing to see the start of a story that feels this self-assured, where you can actually feel confident that the story is going to be finished and it’s going to be solid throughout. I like that.
The premise here is obviously a huge hook—it’s an isekai into a generic-brand Grand Theft Auto RPG, set in contemporary times (kinda) with lots of guns and crimes and modern-day worries to deal with. The first 7 chapters of the story that I read for this weekly review do a really good job of setting up the mechanics and rules of this alternate world, with stat sheets and a light/shadow system that is ingrained in everyday life. In a way, it’s almost like some kind of magical realism book in that way.
As is usually the case in LitRPGs, it’s a bit slow to go; nothing riveting has happened yet and the characters haven’t been given a chance to shine yet, with Manny the only one I can name a character trait for (even the protagonist is a bit of a blank slate). However, anyone interested in LitRPGs already knows how this story goes and will probably be fine waiting for that kind of development.
I do have to say the prose probably needs a thorough edit pass sometime down the line; the challenge of mixing modern-day life with LitRPG mechanics makes the writing often very clunky, and the narrator has little in the way of personality due to it. Chapter 2 in particular feels a little bit off, with the uncle character’s dialogue so tin-eared I thought that it was intentionally making fun of NPC dialogue until other characters later spoke normally. It’s 100% readable, but it misses the mark for becoming a super great story due to it.
All in all, I’m a big fan of the concept and I’m glad the story has become a pretty big success on the site so far. The LitRPG genre has a ton to offer besides swords and sandals and space operas, and this is just another example of the cool things you can do with it once you branch out.
Capo - Rise of a Gang Lord is an Isekai LitRPG that unlike most of that sort doesn't take place in a fantasy/sci-fi world. Instead it is an alternate version of California stuck in a GTA-esque past.
San Tadeo is arguably Capo's selling point. It is a similar but different world with a stat system highly reminiscent of GTA. The exploration of our modern society before computers, smartphones, or the internet became a thing is interesting and brings back some memories. Though I have to point out that San Tadeo is said to be set in 1990 (technically it's 2020 but practically it's 30 years in the past), at which point computers and the internet have become commercialized. Especially a student like Manny should be more than familiar with the internet, as universities - the profs and the students - were using the internet for research, communication, and trolling since around 1984. The stat system also seems inconsistent. It seems at times that everyone can use it, while at other times that only Frank is aware of it. The whole Hipster Safari plot seems forced as well, as Frank makes one unnecessary and idiotic decision after another to bring the story forward. But besides that, the story feels fresh and keeps progressing at a natural and logical pace.
Besides Manny and Frank, most characters so far have not been explored too much. We get some glimpses of their personalities, but as it is still in the early stages of the story, that is to be expected. Frank at first seems like any other Isekai protagonist - and for the most part, he is. But seems to slowly but surely grow out of that. Though I found it a bit too unbelievable how he was able to remain cool and pretend to be coldhearted during a hostage situation when before that he had just been a D&D player.
Manny is a gem. He is just amazing. A wannabe gangster trying to make it big to secure his education, live up to his parent's expectations, and help them as thanks for all the years they had raised him. Whenever you think that you have seen all of Manny, he begins to show more depths.
The grammar is good. There were no noticeable mistakes.
For the most part, the style is good. When describing someone's appearance or when a new character is introduced, it can at times feel awkward and throw the pacing off, but besides that, the flow is good and allows for a good read.
This is a good story. There are only a few issues with the style and the grammar, and Manny is a great character. Some parts of the story could need some tweaks but overall, I would say that fans of the LitRPG/Isekai genre will like this.
Not much I can say about this except that it's very well written and I can't wait for book 2 to drop. This is some good shit. It's for sure in my top 5 novels on this website. ....... z z z z z z z z. Z z
Excellent, but now I am sad. FILLLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER FILLER