by MH Johnson
- Traumatising content
Before you lies a gate, humming with all the power of a dying civilization.
Just beyond it's jagged edges, you can make out the peaceful blue skies and lush green forests of a realm where you truly can level up as the person you always wanted to be.
Exploring endless adventures in fractal worlds without end.
An eternity at your fingertips!
All you need is the courage to take that first step through the gate...
And begin your life anew.
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Really getting hard to read at this point because the author has I think decided to change the mc's name but does not know how to do a find and replace so half the time he is alex, half the time he is jack. The story otherwise is OK, characters are a bit simple.
I remember last year, when I took a chance and picked up a novel on Kindle Unlimited by a western author trying his hand at the xuanhuan genre. I edit translated Chinese martial arts fantasy (wuxia, xianxia, and xuanhuan) novels for a living, so I've been fairly immersed in the tropes and storylines and was honestly not expecting much.
But Silver Fox and the Western Hero surprised me. In a very good way, even. Western takes on Chinese culture-based tropes and styles are hit or miss, at best, with more misses than hits. So I devoured the books that were available at the time and started looking for the latest book every now and then on my kindle app. Until yesterday, that is.
The sixth book in that series should have been out by now (as I write this long-form review, it's sitting at four days late from when the author promised it; I'm not bitter though, I understand how and why these things happen), going by the pace with which the previous five were published. So, curious, I did a cursory google search and imagine my surprise when I found that the series I enjoyed so much was originally a part of Royal Road.
So I clicked the link and, as so often happens on the internet, eventually found myself here, reading Earth 2.0. But I must say, I've been severely underwhelmed by it so far.
And here's why.
The author has a very distinct style. It borders on purple prose, but manages to feel epic, rather than overblown and pompous. That's not the case here, though; this story is being told in such a way that it comes across as disjointed and fragmented, as if it were a puzzle that's had its pieces sorted by color and shape and the border assembled, but everything outside that initial framework is still just a jumbled series of similarly-shapes piles of pieces. This is something a good substantive and/or developmental editor can, and likely will, help with.
I originally cut my teeth as an editor working in the then-nascent LitRPG genre before Life Happened and I had to severely curtail the amount of work I was doing. So I'm fairly familiar with the genre and its tropes and conventions, and Earth 2.0 is fairly bog standard when it comes to those.
That isn't to say it's a bad thing. Tropes, in and of themselves, aren't bad things when properly used, and the author does do that here. And while the reliance on tropes and the already-established story framework inherent to the genre means there aren't really any surprises or twists, that doesn't mean it's bad, by any measure. If there was one thing I would pick out to criticize, at least story-wise, it would be that in doing nothing particularly wrong, it also fails to do anything particularly right as well.
Overall, the story is just "safe". There aren't any attempts to break conventions or push boundaries, which is neither good nor bad, but as someone who's a fan of the author's other series, I know they can do better.
And that's what brought the score for story down to where it is.
Ah, and now we come to the meat of the matter - the mechanics of writing. This is going to be a rough section to read, so here's the TL;DR up front: it ain't good, chief.
Earth 2.0 is, in its current state, practically unreadable if, like me, you get hung up on mechanical errors in writing and formatting. It's littered with wrong words, missing words, sentence fragments, awkward clauses, errant line breaks, and a whole host of other grammar errors that, if I were to catalogue each of them individually - even by category alone with no illustrative examples - this review would be nearly as long as the novel it's written about.
The only thing saving it from a 0.5 score instead of a 1 is because I deal with far worse, sometimes, as part of my job. Most of the translators I work with speak English as a second, third, or even in one case, fifth language and their familiarity with it is passing, at best. Chinese is a beast of a language to learn for anyone who doesn't speak and read it natively, so the translators are chosen for their skill at Chinese and the editors are hired to make up the difference afterward.
So in short, it could be worse... but not by very much.
The characters in Earth 2.0 are... not good. At best, they're forgettable, and at worst, they're... I don't want to say interchangeable, but right now I can't think of a better way of putting it.
There have been six characters, including the main character, introduced so far. Two of them are women that I can't tell the difference between. One is a witch, the other is a support class, but I'll be damned if I can tell you which is which at any given moment. The other three are a warrior, paladin, and rogue, but other than the rogue (whose defining characteristic is that he's all asshole all the time and his only expression is a smirk), I again can't tell them apart. Maybe because the author goes into entirely too much detail on the unnamed character of the story: the game itself.
See, in any LitRPG story, you have to judge the game itself on its merits and it's easiest if you just consider it a character on its own. Earth 2.0's game-chan is talked about in entirely too much detail in the absolute worst places. The author literally has the named characters go into in-depth, complex discussions of the game mechanics to the point where they're discussing how powerful their spells are using percentages in the middle of combat.
That isn't an ironic literally - they actually have the time while fighting for their lives to sit there and discuss how their recently-acquired or upgraded spells are now doing ~800% more damage than the base version. Yet for some reason, they never really discuss the mechanics in more broad-strokes ways. Ways that would actually enhance the story rather than bog it down in the details and minutiae that only hardcore theorycrafters would be interested in seeing.
Between the weirdly disjointed, unfinished style; the lack of risk-taking or envelope-pushing in the story; the frankly atrocious and obvious mechanical errors (seriously, the author hasn't even run spellwreck yet; this is as rough as a rough draft can possibly get); and the indistinguishable, forgettable side characters who, if cast in a movie, would be named "girl 1", "girl 2", "jerk rogue", and so on; and the game itself either being explained in too much detail or too little, this story just isn't ready to be read yet.
it needs a lot of polishing. The framework is there, and it's not bad, it's just... not. If given the time and care it needs, this would be worth a read. But as it stands now, I can't recommend it except to people who are interested in seeing the writing process as it happens. There is no such thing as a bad draft, just drafts that really shouldn't be distributed to people. This one just isn't ready yet.
Final verdict: I'll probably read this, but only later after it's been edited. Heavily edited.
It's an isekai LitRPG with a soft sci-fi theme, esentially. It annoys me somewhat that this has been mislabled as a virtual reality fic. But it's not like this is the first story on RR to have done that.
Admitedly the story is set in a world that was mentioned as being based off of a virtual reality game in setting, though it was only mentioned once in the six chapters I read and doesn't seem to effect the story. If anything it comes across as more of a low effort hand wave "this is why things are how they are" explanation.
Which is fair enough.
I'm giving this two stars simply because there are eleven chapters as of the time of my reading these six chapters, which make up around 53k words. Of which I more than likely read around half of as of this time via the power of guestimation. The protagonist has practiced with a bow and killed some goblins; what should be around 20k words and that's all they've done so far. The chapters are padded with a lot of world building that isn't nessisary or vital or likely to go anywhere and as much as I love world building, I did get bored.
None of the information presented through the lulls of the protagonist staring into empty space seems particularly important? I realize I'm being somewhat over critical here. But I do wish the author would just get on with it.
In the end it's information overload with very little action or character interactions. I can't really feel interested in this story when the only thing I'm finding interesting are the things that are being told to me by the flavor text and character narative. Hopefully things get better after chapter six, and really I do hope that. But I honestly don't feel invested enough to keep reading.
A lot of readers probably know the author from his other story Silver Fox and the Western Hero. If you're keeping up with that I bet you're asking yourself if you should read this one also. In short, the answer is probably no. There are way too many similarities between the two stories to count. I even wonder what the point of this story is. Does the author want to redo Alex's story without the wuxia elements? Is Earth 2.0 just an extra Ruidian party sub-plot from Silver Fox that got abandoned but was too good to throw away? Is the author fishing for a crossover event between all his book characters? Who knows. The story is pretty standard, and even boring if you've read Silver Fox. The magic is very basic without any interesting hard rules incorporated. I don't know what to say about Jack's companions other than they feel like contestants on a reality show with accompanying cringe dialogue. For some reason they constantly switch between seriously role playing their classes and being actual 20-something year old modern college students. The Paladin flirts with his girl and likes talking about his meta character build like your average cringe gamer until someone does something that Paladins don't do and all of a sudden he has a sword to his friend's throat. The contrast is jarring. Everyone seems to have the memory of a goldfish. Jack is supposed to have played the game before but he keeps asking his group how the world works. Isn't he the one that's supposed to have extra memories? His companions keep switching between being grateful for being saved by him and looking down on him because he chooses not to level. Everyone is bipolar, like they keep forgetting they are in a life threatning situation. Jack explained to everyone that he has extra memories but they keep being shocked by what he can do, demanding to know how he knows what he knows. I mean really?
To summarize, if you've read Silver Fox I wouldn't recommend this unless you have nothing better to do, and if you haven't read Silver Fox, well, it's less than okay if you're new to the progression litrpg genre.
Also, please, if you write "with all intense purpose" one more time I will lose my mind.
Also also, tell your editor that you're is just a shortened form of "you are" for gods sake.
Some people are saying some rather unfair stuff in their reviews. This story is a very creative mix of scifi and magic fantasy. The protagonist is interesting and relatable. Writing a story is hard and it's very easy to dump all over someone else's work but I ask, "where's your story?" . If it's better than well take your criticisms but if it's worse then don't complain when I tear it apart. Writers get better over time as they learn just like anyone else. Few start as amazing writers. This is a free to read story online that will likely be edited by an editor later before going on sale. We get first to read an unpolished gem but rather than accept this fact people complain that it's not yet perfect or complete. Some people are never happy with what they have even when it's free.
This story is amazing. It's well thought out and played out very nicely. I love the main character and how he is going for some broken class but it's not easy getting there. He has to really work for it. There are times when it's hard to follow because the pace is just too fast. The characters constantly interrupt each other to finish each other sentences or unfinished thoughts. These are the only negative. It's a must read and I definitely recommend it.
This story has a great style of storytelling, I love how smoothly the notifications work with the story progression and actually help in the readers immersion
Also I like how despite their differences the party can still work together efficiently. Very reflective of real people and makes the characters more likeable.
Reviewed at chapter 19.
Follow along with Jack as he explores a universe unlike any other. Our universe is ripped to shreds. Humanity uses their technology to seed the new universe being born from its ashes with an AI program that they upload their minds into. A way to escape their imminent destruction.
Jack is one of those humans. Each one of the 'originals' remembers their past when they turn 18, merging their current and past lives. That change coincides with a choice: remain immortal or greater opportunity to grow powerful. For Jack, it isn't an easy choice when he learns some world-shaking news.
Now he's on an adventure, not just for himself, but for all of mankind.
Style Score: The author has a well attuned style, and each character has their own voice. The beginning chapters follow Jack in a starter village that FEELS like a starter village. Single POV is well done and appreciated.
Story Score: I've got mixed feelings on this one. By chapter 19, I was invested and eager to read. I'll definitely be following this novel to see what happens. BUT. But the first few chapters were painful to get past. I didn’t enjoy them and almost gave up. I'm glad I didn't, but I can't give five stars for the story score with that in the way.
Additionally, the setup of the starter village and storyline gives the impression that some things are just handed to the MC. They come too easily. It might be a plotline in and of itself, but it felt like handwaving.
Grammar Score: There are a few typos and misspelled words in this story, less than the average for Royal Road. Less than my own story, I'd bet. Unlike other stories on this site, the way this one is written causes the reader to lose immersion when they come across one.
Character Score: I like the Main Character, but there are opportunities I felt were lost when the emotional state of the MC wasn't fully described. Even a line or two here and there would do wonders for improving that.
Overall, I believe that it's a worthwhile read IF you are willing to be lenient in the first few chapters. Don’t assume those chapters are like the rest of the story--it gets better. Much better.
This story is written really well, has compelling characters and worldbuilding, few errors (author cleaned up Alex vs Jack in recent chapters), and is well worth a read.
Lots of action, a good amount of stats, a story that hooks you, and lots of unique bits about the world and such. Give it a try!
you can tell this author is a very good writer this story is well written and builds well I'm sure the further in I get the better it will be. Our intrepid has just left the sleepy little village and I can feel the story revving up but it's definitely a slow build and while those town chapters add to the world building ambiance it's a little repetitive and very long training arc I wish it had been speckled with some more personal development with the mc's family as I believe those parts were *chefs kiss* I'm here for the story I know it's going to go well