The [Bookworm] Who Couldn't Read

The [Bookworm] Who Couldn't Read

by TurtleKing

Vesper's excitement is palpable on his 15th birthday, the day he chooses his path. When he roles some unsavory options Vesper is pigeonholed into a class that spirals him down into a conflict that is way over his head. How will Vesper navigate and make sense of the world with his new class and recover the part of him that goes missing? 

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  • Style Score
  • Story Score
  • Grammar Score
  • Character Score
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TurtleKing

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Ellen Taylor
Overall

This one was fun. I've read a few gamelit/LitRPG on this site, and it always seems to follow a certain rigid formula. This one didn't feel too much like that, and I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed getting more of the human aspect and character development in the beginning of the story instead of a ton of world building and game facts. Quill has to be my favorite character, probably because I'm a sucker for librarians. Overall, if you still love gamelit, but are getting tired of the same formula, give this one a try!

JMWebb
Overall
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Character

Book is good, but has growing pains.

Reviewed at: Chapter 9 - To new places

Overall Score: 4.1/5 (rounded up)

Warning: This has spoilers.

So, what is this book? This is a theme I will be returning to throughout this review. On one hand, we have the prologue within the first chapter which is well-written and sets up a clear expectation for us as readers: this book is going to be about unhappy MC's, and this mysterious tome that has been stored away is important, and probably eldritch horror. On the other hand, it has elements of litRPG (Vesper, MC, is a Finder of Secrets, a secret class), and once the perspective changes to follow Vesper the right after the short prologue the book at times feels uncertain about what it wants to be. That being said, if you're a fan of LITRPG, this will suit you just fine.

Style Score 4/5 - Turtleking clearly knows how to write well-constructed sentences, and the prologue most explicitly shows this. Some of the book is as well-written with careful word-choices and sentences that flow nicely. However, other parts the tone drifts to a more dry and humorous one. The book, it seems, cannot decide if it wants to be serious or if it wants to be a comedy (I address this later). Sometimes the language is too clinical, and I distinctly notice that the word choice could be better because in contrast to the stronger sections the weaker ones really do stick out. The biggest weakness of the style for me, is its reliance on humor. Turtleking has crafted an interesting mystery about a thousands-years-old grimoire and a random orphan with a bizarre class he can't tell anyone. If the author had more patience in regards to word choice as they did in the prologue, and avoided the comedy more, then this score could easily become 5 stars.

Grammar Score 5/5 - Grammar is fine. Really nothing wrong here. When strong authors write, there usually never is.

Character Score 4/5 - Vesper is interesting, although I think I am too early in the story to tell where exactly his character will develop. I'm not usually a fan of young protags, for they often take me out of the story, but Vesper doesn't chase me away from the story. However, as I mentioned earlier in the style score the book does not know exactly what it wants to be yet. The characters are often discussing lewd imp romance novels, and many of the encounters we have are humorous, rather than to serve the two things that we are told should be the most interesting thing about Vesper/others: Their classes, their relationship to Grimoire, and their inner-thoughts. Basically, less imp-romance jokes.

Story Score 4.5/5 - All of the elements of a long-term compelling narrative, but as I mentioned before is that the book has growing pains. I think, in-part, because the author seems to be heavily influenced by This Quest is Bullshit (or other books in the litRPG genre which tend to be on the more humorous side). Vesper receives his class from a similar set of stones, and then sets off trying to think about how to best use his class. I think the author's semi-frequent turns to humor and witty banter also stem from a love of that story, and perhaps Turtleking to break away from influence and cut down on the funny stuff. There are some very interesting things that happen, such as when Vesper accidentally touches a book and gains three levels. I love that, it provides a precedent that people can (and oftentimes do) start and complete objectives entirely by accident. This being said, the pacing of the story could use some work. Vesper, IMO, goes far too quickly into trying out weird spells from a Grimoire, despite still having read.




The big wrapup: The book is good. I would not write this much if I did not like it. I have a policy of not reviewing books that I don't like. I think, after a bit, the author will find their footing and this story will become more consistent (and hopefully slow down) to give us the chance to appreciate what Turtleking is truly capable of: crafting a compelling mystery story in a dark world. Do not take my harsh criticisms of this book as dislike. I just want to see this book written as well as I know it can be.

DrBuller
Overall

"Yes, I'm into Imp romance."  Even with context, I am still not too sure how this sentence was made. It is the stuff of legends. Even the RanPosters of old couldn't come up with this stuff.

Suffice to say that I recommend this stuff. The concept is fun, the actual execution is even better, the style has some good quirks, and characterisation is actually pretty decent. It has a few negatives in grammar, sure, but I don't feel like that should be taken too seriously. 4.5/5 from me.

Arthur-67
Overall
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Character

A little but of polishing but a worthy read

Reviewed at: Chapter 8 - Olbin

Overall- Great work.

I noticed the Patreon/discord- just out of curiosity do you get many people who join?

Style- Clear consistent third person which is done well. There were one or two moments that confuse me 'he abhorred death more then his miserable existence. And now he was facing worse'- something worse than death or his existence?. Not a big deal just make sure sentences link clearly. Great balance between showing and telling and you do a great job of explaining backstory/ characters through this.

Another point that has been made to me before is to be careful with names e.g. in some paragraphs you sue Orrick five or so times and start each paragraph with Vesper. Switching it up to descriptions or even he, his, can help put down the repetition. I've started going through my chapters as I did this a lot as well.

The story had a nice pose and pacing which makes for a good reading experience. Also, you have a great balance between the lit rpg and story, I was glad to see this as too much is jarring for me. There are a few pov switches but they all have their purpose and there isnt that many switches which is nice and helps keep the flow.

Story -Interesting story but it is too soon to decide if it will be one of the best with there only being eight chapters so far, I will follow along and see.

Grammer- a few possible missing words e.g trembled with fear that he hadn’t felt before - maybe an a before fear. In the second chapter- you say the 'government-sanctioned building was made from stone'- is this the only one. The way it's written sound like there is only one government-sanctioned building. If this is the case maybe creating a name would be better than repeating government-sanctioned building. 

Didn't notice any spelling mistakes which is good. 

Character -Orrick seems interesting and I felt that I had a great sense of his personality right from the first chapter. The others characters seemed really interesting and well done.Vesper is the mc and it is enjoyable to follow his story. He is well written and behaves like a real person which is nice to see

TeeMcTee
Overall
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Character

Engrossing and refreshing

Reviewed at: Chapter 5 - Caught

As the title says this story is a really nice read. I'm not finished, by far, but I feel I've read enough to see a bit of what the story has to offer. And the whole situation at the beginning, as dark as it is, is rather comedic.

I won't keep it a secret that I do not enjoy stories with game-like mechanics involved. I much prefer fantasy, with the possibility of adventure and romance, but this is unique. I'm actually enjoying the story, there isn't enough mention of stats or levels to really get in the way. There's a lot of class mentions but if you just think of them as job titles then there isn't a problem. 

The formatting is really nice and easy on the eyes making it extremely easy to read. A lot of writers have issues, myself included, with keeping the story flowing nicely from the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, but this story doesn't seem to suffer from that issue.

The story itself is a definite highpoint, honestly if this was a normal fantasy story and not a gamelit the story would still be interesting enough to read and get invested in. Yeah Vesper makes some irresponsible choices, but that's something normal for 15 year old kids. The world is well built and we learn more and more about it slowly, there aren't any huge expositions dumps.

The Characters are really well fleshed out. You can tell really quickly what their wants, needs, likes and dislikes are within just a few minutes of reading about them. Except for the characters that are more reserved like Olbin. The only one I would have liked to know more about is the caretaker of the orphanage, where I am now she hasn't showed up much more than at the very beginning, I'm sure she will show up again so this isn't really a criticism.

There isn't many grammar issues, and the ones that are there are so small they don't take anything away from the story. An accidental " here and there usually.

Overall if you like stories with or without game mechanics this is a really good read. The story is well written, the characters are, for the most part, realistic. And there's questions to keep me wondering what's going to happen next, along with a lot of foreshadowing. It's definitely a refreshing read, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

CookieCrumble
Overall
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The one which you glad you read

Reviewed at: Chapter 13 - Grog

You know those times, the ones when you scrolled last update section, looking for a good novel in the sea of lesser ones. And then you saw a title which you stumbled, and thought ‘yes, I know it’s gimmicky, and ‘yes, most of the gimmicky one is kinda suck because well, the author relied too much on the gimmicky stuff for their hook and forget that they need a good hand on storytelling’, and ‘yes, I know that I’d still read it anyway because practically at this point I might as well admit that I have Problems with capital P’. Well, let me tell you friends, readers potentials and looking for validation, that The [Bookworm] Who Couldn’t Read would be the one which you glad you read.

Now, it wasn’t without its flaws. Some sentences miss periods and commas; Orrick was spelled Warrick in the first chapter; and at points the author decide that the character either experience sudden character’s growth (which unbelievable) or plainly announcing to us reader that the ‘plot must go on’ (which my official headcannon).

YET, YET despite all of those — those stuff that I need to regurgitate because a review should be balanced and sound a little nitpicky so as not to sound as some kind of fanboy’s letter, let me assure you, the TBWCR was a great book. 

Now I wouldn’t lie to you and said it was the greatest book I ever read, or a best comedy I ever drunk, of course not, those spots were reserved for [REDACTED - PLEASE CONTACT REVIEW WRITER FOR INFORMATION] which was way awesomer than this (mainly because it was longer).

Now what I would tell you that this story had three amazing things in it. Namely, characters, pacing, and worldbuilding. Let peel those one by one, shall we?

First, characters,

Now, the story was written in 3rd omniscient which meant we got a lot of POV from different characters voiced in authorial voice. Vesper our MC of course was believable, emotional tentherhook which all of us who had read it root him for just being there. He was fleshed yes, but also kind of blank slate (which I pretty sure was intentional), so for those who love to self-insert themselves, this was an MC for you.

Next we have the supporting casts which as far as from disappointing or even at all. Now for spoiler reason, I’d only say them by their title. There our orphanage owner, supportive and believable, mix of patron mother and a person who believe in the good inside. Then there was the innkeeper which oh my god, this supposed to go to the worldbuilding section but f— it. The man just a reflection of culture. His speech mannerism, his thought pattern. That how you wrote a different species who evolutionary and geographically divergent from your common standard human, folks. 

The others, the librarian, the MC boss, how do I said this, all of them was so well-fleshed, their struggle well-thought, their decision empathetic, I for a second even believed they were real people (a bit sad actually) which was not a little feat I assure you. That was why I had problem with the grand magus. While in the 1st chapter he was amazing, it felt too much of Deus Ex Machina when he met the MC. While in the intellectual level I understood this was because tens or hundreds of years that he had passed in isolation (I forget the exact time, but it certainly enough to push you a bit cuckoo), he simply felt too much of a juxtaposition too the other characters, not a foil, juxtaposition. It was like seeing Monet’s Water Lillies and suddenly have a roblox fanart slapped in it, both was a style of their own, but they didn’t go right together. For this I suggest the author to reintroduce the magus from his perspective instead of slapping it to the MC so suddenly.

Moving on, pacing.

Pacing, pacing, pacing. Like I said, it was amazing. Now lots of book sometimes it’s inevitable there would be dead airs which the readers either get infodumped or get bored. This had neithers, this was stitch of moment-by-moment; crafted like how your annoyingly positive aunt remember her last vacation. You know, photos — videos of them jumping-floating mid air with sunset in the background, scuba diving session with corral reefs abound, trying funky hats in the nearby marketplace — moments. The one you remembered fondly. It skipped the boring sections; the awful sands that getting in your sandals, the sore in your feet because you walking too much, the ‘accident’ the one when you ran back to your hotel room because you decide to not use sunscreen since the 6.30 a.m air feel crisp and chilly, forgetting that in tropical climate, that 30 minutes differences was the differences between a nice stroll and hell hath fury. 

Finally we had the worldbuilding.

First I’d tell you it was great. The world building was rich, pervasive, and everpresent. The existence of goblin nation, the corrupt ruling class, the starved for resource kingdom, the dark underbelly that pray on young orphan, the lists went on. The only problem I had with it was with the saying, the phrases. Sometimes it was inconsistent and there were section that based on the worldbuilding itself shouldn’t etymologically be there. Now I wouldn’t bat an eye if it was on the authorial narrative, but sometimes it seeped to inner thought. Not enough to break immersion, but close enough to furrow my eyebrow.

In conclusion:

Style 5 / 5

Story 5 / 5

Grammar 4 / 5

Characters 4.5 / 5

Read it!

***

Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story (Tales of Unlikely Wizard) in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.

Gryphon10
Overall
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Character

Needs Work but has a Ton of Potential

Reviewed at: Chapter 7 - A price too high

Overall - It was an enjoyable time reading through the story and I genuinly want to see more out of this.  The reason I gave it 3 and a half stars however is because the story needs a ton of work.  

Style - The tone of the book kind of reminds me like the tones from T.V. cartoons like Steven Universe and Regular show.  By that I mean that one minute I was reading serious storytelling the next a joke happens in order to establish character.  I'm a fan of this type of storytelling since I'm a firm believer an entire story shouldn't have just one tone.  However, there still needs to be a balance and I would like to see more of that.  Style is lowered, however, is mainly because the start of the story.  If we're talking about the later chapters I would've given it a four star, but the first and second chapter was hard to folllow cause the structure was off in certain places.  The entire first chapter is a mess and I don't understand the point of specifying who's POV the reader is looking through when all the author has to do is say their name in a paragraph at least once.

Grammar score - This is the true main culprit of the story.  If it weren't for the lackluster grammar, I'd give the overall four stars and not look back but there's so much wrong here.  It's not unreadable, but its got a lot of issues.  I doubt the author didn't proofread since any author worth their weight does read their work before publishing, so I'm thinking it was oversight.  There weren't many spelling errors; the main thing is the punctuation.  There were so many sentences that needed a comma and there were instances when there were quotation marks placed in weird locations so it was difficult knowing when the dialogue began and ended.  It needs another lookthrough is what I'm getting at.

Story - There isn't much of a story yet so in the meantime its a 4-star for me.  The protaganist(Vesper) seems to just be trying his best to live a life which isn't much of a story, but in the right conditions, and what I've read, can lead into an epic tale.  I don't have much thoughts on the story aspect.

Character - The character's were by far the strongest part of the story.  Vesper's struggles to get anywhere in life in a system that makes free choice obsolete is pretty interesting to see.  The characters are fairly one note as of right now, but thats not a bad thing.  What makes a good character isn't the amount of layers they have, it's if you enjoy seeing their story.  I can say I've enjoyed the characters interact with each other and go about their daily lives.  I'd say the most surprising was actually making me think that Grunker, the goblin, isn't too bad of a character.  I thought I would hate him when he was introduced but his hyper and excitable personality makes it hard for me to hate him.

Would I recommend this story?  Yes I would, but that doesn't mean this story is perfect.  I can see the potential the story has and the lengths that can be reached as long as the author stays focused and learns from their mistakes.  I suggest going back to the earlier chapters when they have the time to fix a ton of the grammar problems and it could bring in more people that really cares about the grammar.

horizon108
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A unique take on sub divisions in the litrpg class

Reviewed at: Chapter 9 - To new places

I loved the idea of the book and the humor in it.

It's a fresh take on the classes system where each class also has its own unique subdivisions based on emotions, aptitudes, and backgrounds. What I like even more is that each person has three choices which they can choose from themselves!

Moving on to the review bit,

Overall score: 4.5/5 - I read till the latest chapter - chapter 9 and it's quite good so far.

Style score: I really like the author's style in writing where each and every interaction feels real and his way of sprinkling in background information where it matters to flesh out things.

Story: 4.5/5 - building on the style, the background information, and the way the story is told is very believable and in line with the world. The world-building is also fantastic so far with nuggets sprinkled liberally throughout the pages.

Grammar: 3.5/5 - I give a default 4 for grammar since my own is not very good. However, there were a few sentences where I had to re-read lines and that threw me off slightly. Hence .5 for readability which can be easily improved by just looking over the text a few more times. But writing is tough and time can be scarce, so I totally understand the author's pains!

Character: 4.5/5 - I LOVE the goblin Grunkor. I like the remaining characters too, especially ol' Quill who's a swell guy from the start till where I read and funny as anything. I stand by my rating and hope to see more of such characters.

All in all, it's a wonderful read so far and has the potential to really go places. I feel the author is sincere in making this book successful and he has invested quite the time and energy in making the world of the book and the characters within as lifelike as possible.

Good luck to the author and happy reading to you, the reader!

lousy goat Olav
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As stated in the title, overall, quite enjoyable, though it needs a bit of editing! It's perhaps a bit too early to say much, but the setting so far is pretty appealing, it does entice one to want to learn more about the world pictured and its past.

Style- Consistent third person, semi-omniscient narrator. Narration is quite solid! It gets the job done. I don't think I'd particularly wish for any change here.

Story- As I said, it's an interesting setting. The idea of people's lives being mandated by the class they chose in their teens, among a limited number proposed by fate/gods/system, is not necessarily unique, but the main character having a 'fake' class makes for a nice twist. Mix in some accidental magic and a quirky goblin and it's certainly entertaining.

Grammar- A typo here and there, maybe a few missing words? But overall it's easy to read. Definitely good by royal road standards.

Characters-  Overall, they seem sufficiently fleshed out, without delving overly deep, which makes for a nice balance. I personally quite like our Goblin friend, Grunkor, he's kinda cute, in a silly way. And, Quill's quite the quirky character too. (Vesper himself's not half-bad in that department either!)

Hope the author keeps delivering!

Sara Mullins
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Overall: It’s good, with a compelling world. I wonder about follow-through on some of the plot threads that are present, but the story's really just getting started. I’ll definitely stay tuned to see how everything develops. 

Story: There are hints of some very interesting developments coming in the future. The first chapter promises a lot of political intrigue, and politics come up more at the beginning, but these ideas are tucked to the side as we go through the daily life and struggles of our main character as he starts living independently. These big concepts come back in the more recent chapters, so everything is coming along well I think/hope!

Style: The descriptions of scenery are lovely and well-balanced. The narrative also does a good job at incorporating a slightly omniscient kind of voice in which small details about side characters are revealed in a way that’s not too invasive while still maintaining the primary perspective of the person the scene is really focusing on. I love the humor that's present throughout!

Grammar: None of the very minor issues here get in the way of understanding what’s happening in the story. The prose can be a bit repetitive, with facts sometimes being stated more than needed, but again, that's small. 

Character: I’m intrigued by Vesper. His backstory has potential to lead to some interesting conflicts with the people from his past. Despite the hardships he’s faced, he also has a conscience that impacts his feelings on what he is forced to do to get by, and that speaks well of him. This is a story overall where I feel like the characters keep people reading until more of the political intrigue and worldbuilding will come into the forefront (or at least I hope, because the story really needs to follow through on these things to reach its fullest potential in my opinion). Vesper’s interactions with Grunkor are hilarious, and his relationship with Quill is nice, though I’m not sure how significant either of these characters will be moving forward as the relationships between them and Vesper haven't been painted as overly deep or significant to Vesper himself in my mind. Still, it's very fun to watch them interact. Alry is a good addition too, and I'm excited to see how her relationship with Vesper evolves. 

This final note is just for consideration as it relates to future developments: What are Vesper’s primary motivations? In the first chapter he states that he wants to repay Lady Eldin’s kindness and rescue other orphans from Lorinth’s work camp, but these aspirations haven’t really crossed his mind since. In the latest chapter (10 at the time of reviewing) he states a desire to just "live a normal life", but we hardly know what normal means to him because his entire life has been about struggling. Is he guided by a sense of justice and gratefulness or a desire to blend in with the fold? I can't tell if these things are being pinned for the future or if they'll just dangle there as forgotten concepts. Again, it's early still, but specific character motivations are a very good thing to keep in mind, especially if they change and evolve along with the character as a sign of growth and/or regression.  

Overall, high hopes here! Can't wait to read more.