[BOOK 1: The Spiral]
Seventeen-year-old Phoenix Newman is mysteriously thrown into another dimension at the behest of God. Within, there is one goal: reach the Spiral first or die trying. Simple enough, right? Except he isn't alone; there are thousands of other players, each harnessing the power that God bestowed upon them, doing their absolute best to reach the same objective.
To solve the mystery of this world, Phoenix must first look to the future, to the creator, to the omnipotent, and then to his past, to his family, and to the friends with whom he shares his joy.
But one memory stands out among the rest—that of a teenage girl. His best friend—Alex Ramiro. He needs to find her, but . . . there can only be ONE winner, and he has absolutely no idea where to look . . .
. . . the closer she inspected the puddles, the more she recognised that these reflections were not alone; there was something brighter, something significantly more purple, flashing in the background of each spill. Gathering enough strength to push herself upwards, Alex looked off to the right. Arms outstretched on either side of her body, she sucked in a deep breath, her eyes popping open. There in the distance hovered, or perhaps stood—it was honestly quite difficult to tell—a magical ring of stars, nebulae, and quasars. And although she wasn't sure of it, there appeared to be a slow yet methodical rotation at the centre. A spiral. The Spiral.
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This book is like a freight train, it starts a bit slow but then before you even realize it you're heading down the tracks at breakneck pace carrying thousands of pounds of precious cargo. Sorry, that analogy got away from me. XD
What I was trying to convey with that really strange anology is that this story builds momentum really well. (sadly there were no freight trains in what I read so far.) It's a bit of a slow start but when things pick up they pick up. I don't think it's abnormal for a novel with multiple protagonists to feel a bit slow at the start, I think it's more or less par for the course. It wasn't until later on that I realized just how invested I was in the characters.
I also need to point out that I read more of this book than I was originally planning to for this review. I try to stick to around 10k words for my reviews, often a little more. No, this one took me over twice that, before the PDF version Arthur gave me ran out of pages and I decided "meh I might as well write that review now."
"I find it difficult to review this novel"
"You say that about literally every novel you review"
"I didn't ask you, maybe I just find reviews difficult to write. I mean, I'm not an expert at; grammar; nor; style"
"You added those semicolons just to mess with me, didn't you?"
"Maybe, look this book gets a 5 for style"
"It was good"
"That's it? Are you serious"
"No, I lied. The style hits the prose just right" *Visualize a picture of 'pacha ok'*
"Okay what about the grammar?"
"I don't know, it beats mine and most other things I've read here. 5/5 since I didn't notice a single error."
"You weren't even looking for grammar errors."
"Then it's a good thing I didn't find any."
"Tell us about the story"
"The heck is that supposed to mean?"
"ZAPPP!!! It has a really cool death game setup, but there's an awesome adventure element added to it. I can't wait to see more of the unique environments the story offers. If I had to say, that's what sets it apart from other death games."
"Can you elaborate."
"If you want to know what that means go read the story. Here there be dragons." *forgets that spoilers tag exists*
"Is there anything else you want to add about the story?"
"Well, I think swapping the chapters around a bit more might help with the pacing. I understand switching between characters to keep suspense but I think that works best when used sparingly. I will now speak in spoilers to communicate what I mean"
"I thought you said you forgot the spoiler tag exists?"
"Maybe you don't exist."
My recomendation is to try sticking with one character up until they encounter their first enemy, then give the other character their introduction. Every time you switch makes the reader frustrated IMO, so perhaps try to do it less. IDK though, I would just experiment a little more with chapter positions.
"Okay tell me about the characters"
"So Scarlet is really cool, she has a jeep and a leather jacket and—"
"No, don't tell me about A character, tell me about the characters"
"Why do you have to ruin my fun, I was trying to express my budding love of Scarlet—"
"Oh god, I'm not going to get a straight answer out of you."
"OK, I'll answer it seriously. I like the characters so far, especially on the girls's side, I haven't gotten as invested in the boys's side yet. However, the boys's side does have some interesting dynamics going on. I do really like the antogonists we have met so far though, they're pretty snazzy"
"Do you want to say anything about the characters technical side?"
"No, let's not be technical, this is a story. I'm not about to go into some deep analytical journey trying to break things down, there's no need. Res ispa loquitur"
"And for those who don't randomly use latin?"
"Errr, the thing speaks for itself. It's a doctrine in common law—"
"No one cares, this is supposed to be a review"
"Well I guess we failed at reviewing then, I'm going to go home now."
Even if you ask me why I wrote this review like this I wouldn't be able to answer why, I just kinda did. It felt right, I hope you enjoyed this super duper weird review.
Now go read the book.
To start off, this story has kind of a mysterious feel to it. I believe that is the word. It has a way of drawing in attention, a certain vagueness with it. Then to top it all off, a nice way of incorporating descriptions. A solid blend of elements. Just two issues, one, I recommend separating dialogue from the text. Two, things like ‘ZAP’ it is better to explain it. Now, I won’t deduct points, this is a personal style preference. Which, I do not grade since it is highly opinionated. Someone can think it is the worst, another the best. I just cannot be objective with this specific part, so take that as you may.
The story steadily transitions, to where the character has more of a turmoil of not understanding themselves if I am reading this correctly. Now there is one thing I want to say, this story is written more in a casual side. Which given the blending of elements, it can work. And it does not disappoint as far as I can see.
The story then goes along into more of a, I should say realistic aspect of how corruption can be. Execution for protests, rioting, and so on. In that sense, it hits a point quite well. To get more into the finer points, there is something called the ‘Reach Project.’ Where as you can guess it, it is a game world. I should also note, this is a small thing. As well as more of a style, that I honestly like. The first line of a chapter starts with all caps. It conveys a more deeper message I would say.
Now more of a normal point, where someone tries to create a perfect world. To be honest, I can see why things went this way.
Overall, this is a wonderful piece. A more mysterious, yet a bit unsettling feel to say. Natural conflict, and a more realistic world view in some parts. A game that is a project, no less having to do with some perfect world they had in mind. I say give this story a chance.
At first, I wasn’t sure. Though, it does well in sticking to the GameLit part of it. While also diving into a deeper reality. A project that is supposed to be towards a perfect world if I am right, and characters playing the game, which is probably a trap.
Most I can say is that it is consistent, but this is something I do not grade.
Each are defining enough, realities blending into their life. Which if I was following this correctly, they were from another world? Anyway, it was more natural to say. To add on a bit more, it looks like the characters are more or less dealing with the effects of the project. There is this darker tone to them, and the interaction are really of expectance. I suppose to say, the interaction while incorporating the game elements, it is more organic to say,
No issues here, I also learned a few things myself. I believe the words I am looking for are metaphors this story has. The comparison, the way those lines string together. While not unique, it is very fulfilling. I cannot tell you how long I have been looking for a story that can grip me with its prose.
I want to add on something more, that I may have forgotten. The story is solid all around. I don’t have any real issues with this story. And trust me I was looking, this is a solid 5. The majority of the problems I had would fall under style, but I do not grade that, and simply adjusted along. Slight correction made to this review, for some reason I misread chapter one. The translation I mentioned before editing, it is something part of the plot. So, wanted to clarify this. For some reason I thought the story was being portrayed in different languages, and this was being made note in the chapter itself. Nope, I was brain dead after 10 to 12 hours of doing something on my own time.
I also want to add, that this is a rather easy read. Given the more casual way it is written. It is pretty easy to get sucked into the story. For my own personal opinion, I just love how the words string together to create a nice lasting image. Simplicity can be effective, and it does great in this part of it. It blends first and third person, and does so in an easily digestible manner. The comparisons done between numerous aspects. For instance, the reflection of water in comparison to what the character might think heaven is. My words are not enough for this. As for when the story picks up. I would say around the fifth chapter, maybe the fourth. Though, the fifth was when I started to really go along with it.
As for my final words on this, it can take sometime to get into. Though once the ball starts rolling, you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised. At least that is my take on it, experiencing it for yourself is better than words. Just know. I recommend this.
To add on a bit more, and as to not spoil it, the story once again does well to connect those lines. I think prose is a better word for it. The level of depths gets a bit deeper, and it really makes you think about what the character wants. Inside of a game, getting more powerful, but yet there is this level of contradictory I have noticed. More along the character trying to grasp something about themselves. Aside from this, the action starts to pick up more, which is to be expected. Further you go, better things get.
As things goes along, I am not disappointed. It maintains that tone it carries, with the characters somewhere between lighter and dark. The blend is nice, and not often I see this executed even half well. Getting into some philosophical elements no doubt, which I won't mention for potential triggering elements. That you will have to see on your own, though note, it gives a more solid feel. Anyway, head on forth into this well crafted tale.
It feels like those fictions that your parnts got you from the discount bin when you were twelve and was on a binge-read for the genre, but they refused to actually pay for some of the big-name authors so they just got you whatever they could get from the cheap stocks, but as it turned out you actually liked that type of stuff, being more comfortable with the style rather than the repetitious nature seen in the larger fictions.
Anyway. Nostalgia located, found, dreamt about, and taken in with a good couple of minutes of reading. Style is good, like said before, and grammar along with characters are great fun. 5/5 from me.
Okay, overall, this story is amazing. I usually don’t get too invested with third-person view stories, but that was not the case with this one. I will explain below the style as to why. But I have to say this author knows how to write. I have nothing but praises for you. So, gj!
Like I said earlier, third-person point of view. I usually have a problem connecting with these types of stories. This is because some authors forget to add to the emotional feels of the characters. So I prefer the first-person views as I get to know them better. And how they feel.
In this case, the author nails it. He is amazing with portraying emotions and, honestly; I connected with all the characters. I did not feel like I was reading in third view.* Even the douche ones. *
There are points of view changes, but again, this author nails it. I hate when they happen in the middle of chapters. This is not the case here. The shifts in views are clean and nice. And you are never left wondering for too long what happened to the two MC of this story.
I am not the best of judges for this, but I stopped no errors. Maybe one long sentence at one point. Many commas divided it. But nothing was hard to read or get lost in. Honestly, this author’s grammar is great!
Well, folks, this is an amazing death game scenario. Every participant has a unique ability, and our MCs have rare ones. The MCs were separated and are desperate to find one another. There are few inconsistencies in some places, but as a whole. It is amazing. I won’t get into the details of the story as one should experience it.
Honestly, it is the best way to do so. But I will say I love the MCs. In this case, there are two, and they are both likable. And like the synopsis says, there can only be one winner in this game. There are also some funny moments too. *Well for me, I loved how the author handled one character in there. *
All the characters in this story will make you feel something. If it is happiness, sadness, or frustration, you will feel something. I know some of them made me paranoid. Thus, they are believable and never stray from their current path. Though I hate the damsels in distress syndrome, one female character feels like atm. Her demeanor frustrates me. *I get it they are young, but not that young either. *
The girl needs to get moving! But I guess that is where character development can happen. Hopefully, by the end, she has a powerful personality to shine from, as the other mc seems to have. As well as our Mc has some conflicting morals atm. Hopefully, those get worked out too. Though, that is just to say how the characters affected me. And if they got an emotional take from me, then guess what.
These characters feel alive and made me feel things for them. The side/support characters also have their own personalities. You will either love or hate. I hated one, and I am satisfied.
Like I said, overall amazing! I recommend this to anyone! It is a blast to read.
I will begin by saying that Arthur Scott knows exactly what he is doing, as this story is extremely polished and the characters come to life. Every story I have read by him, may it be dropped, on hiatus, or in progress, has left me immensely impressed.
This story is no exception.
The style is going to be the thing that readers either love or hate, and honestly, I'm here for it. The author takes well-written prose and twists it to read smoothly, simply, and easily. Each line flows into each other well, and Arthur takes risks to spice things up (but makes sure you know that they are doing this on purpose).
As usual, there are no issues here. Even when I have my editing glasses on, I struggle to find major issues with the way this author writes. Words are spelled well, the rules of writing are followed to a tee but are often tested with stylized options that make the paragraphs read well. He is a master at what he writes.
This is the perfect harmony of scifi and fantasy. With a writing style that is crafted so well, the only thing left would be to create a genuinely interesting story - and Reach sure does have an intricate plotline that grasps the reader and draws them in. We have magical elements, scifi elements, and game elements.
The way the author throws the characters into this game and introduces the gamemaster of this world, written as the "God," and introduces the powers of our MC in a way that challenges our gamemaster. A match to be made, and I am sure the boss fights will be of epic proportions.
These characters come to life - Phoenix is my favorite, to be honest, and the personalities leap off the e-page in ways that are truly enticing. One suggestion I can make though is to add mannerisms that give them personalities outside of dialogue. That said, the dialogues and inward reflection are more than enough to give each character their voice :)
This genre isn't really my cup of tea, but if you like this sort of story, I'd say it's worth giving a try. The first chapter hooked me well enough, but I felt as though we went through the character introductions a little too quickly. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked and invested in seeing where that character was going, and then we jumped straight into the next one. Not an awful way to write it, by any means, but I could see it confusing a few potential new readers and turning them away.
Mechanically, I can't say there was all that much wrong with the writing itself. Their were a few typos and puzzling wordchoices, but otherwise it didn't cause any problems.
Overall, I'd say that if you read the description and this seems like it would be up your alley, it's worth giving it a try.
Reach: Spiral is isekai meets superpowers and battle royale, and it's just as exciting and bizarre as you think it is. I highly recommend this fiction.
The characters are nuanced, the world is expansive, weird, and logical, and the characters are believable, most of the time.
Style Score: Grab yourself a notepad because you're going to need it. This author has a rich vocabulary and takes full advantage of it while describing action scenes, emotions, and rendering the world. If you're a writer like I am, you might have kept a list of words you thought were different and interesting.
Grammar: There were no grammatical errors, at least none that I spotted. It reads pretty well, and from the author's developed style, you know they're careful and intentional with their words.
Story: Phoenix and Alex, our teenage protagonists who have the hots for each other, are isekaied into a battle-royale-style world by a god who has abducted an innumerable number of people over the years and forced them to play his game.
The protagonists wake up in different parts of the world and through their various interactions with the inhabitants, they grow as people and learn to control their powers.
The story is fairly straightforward, and it just works. I did not mind the switch-up every chapter.
Character score: This is where I have to pull a star. One of the protagonists feels very chaotic in their thought processes, and I found it somewhat jarring.
Phoenix went from being afraid for his life and thinking about finding his parent and going back home, to fixating on finding his friend, and then hunting down a supposed murderer because he's bad, and a weird lady he met said so.
His decision to kill and his reaction to murdering two people felt more or less like a shrug. I find his character development somewhat rushed and unearned, and I think it was to do with how little time we've spent with him.
We catch up to him every other chapter, and even though I'm fairly deep into the book, I feel like I hardly know Phoenix. Maybe the future chapters will remedy that.
Alex is far more consistent as a character. She is scared for her life, but is not afraid to fight when the situation demands it. She is a delight to follow.
The side characters are deceptively complex with solid motivations and backstories. They are not too rooted in their archetypes, and they feel authentic.
There is not much else to say about this portal fantasy except it's a great read, and I can't wait to dig into the second half of the book.
TL/DR: Arthur’s work is another proof that you can craft an enjoyable story using a simple plot if you managed to come out with amazing characters, proper world-building and good prose. The first book of the REACH is just so well-done and a pleasure to read.
Story: I’m not fund of GameLit/LitRPG/Isekai-not fund at all. But this story hides the genre’s tropes really well and I don’t feel like reading some (is it really Isekai?). I don’t like magic either much, but all the sci-fi aspects helped keep my motivation with the slow-paced intro. In the end of my journey trhough Arthur's work, I enjoyed the good mix of scifi/fantasy in a close-to-real (virtual?) world. It worked for me on this point as the mystery remains. Also, the character’s motivation and the main plot are clear, straight from the beginning. That way, the story doesn’t lose itself, allowing the author to carry on at a very good pacing the adventures of the two (three?) heroes.
Style: The worldbuilding is incredible with vivid descriptions. The dialogues are well-balanced with the description. The style is crystal clear and is the result of a lot of work. Nothing is out of place and the story flows very well. This is highly professional.
Character: Two major points of view for two very different characters with intertwined chapters. A classic construction that works well here once again. First, we have Phoenix and its shocking superpower. Being introduced first, he was the hero for me. But as I discovered it later, he’s kinda flow and not as tough as I think he was. It was a great character development alongside the introduction of the second one: Alex, a friend of his. I had issue with Alex at the beginning. She swears a lot (which seemed a little bit strange giving the tone of the story) and acts kinda childishly. I thought to myself: “of f*ck, another butchered female lead.” After a while, I started to learn about her. It became easier to relate and found out I was completely wrong. It was a very good surprise! Once I reached the chapter 20, I was in love with both of them. They’re really well done and both allow us to discover the world from a unique perspective (which is certainly the most important here, at least at the beginning). For me, the characters are the best part of this story.
Grammar: It is a well-crafted story for sure so you won’t see any mistakes. I don’t remember seeing something that smooth in a long time. It’s kinda refreshing for a web story on RR. *visible jealousy*
This is where this story truly shines! This author has an expansive vocabulary and no fear of using it. If you like lots of well-worded description that flows well from one detail into the next, this is the story for you! As a minimalist-writer, I felt I could learn something from it!
This thick prose does down-pace the action just a smidge, but I find that’s quite excusable considering its high quality. It focuses a lot on the world’s environment itself, which was neat—I could really easily imagine this world--but in some cases, I think the characters could use a bit more grounding.
The plot is straightforward: the characters find themselves in a new world with one goal--reach the spiral or perish. Easy to follow. Leaves a lot of room for future challenges.
As always, this is where I’m a bit of a stickler. The prose is wordy for my tastes (perfectly fine! Lots of people like this sort of writing!) and while it is very well constructed, it does occasionally get bogged by filler words. The dialogue felt a little stilted in some places, too, a little too explanatory. That’s perfectly justifiable since the characters are new to this world, but I wanted some more casual interactions between them and the side characters. I think it would’ve made them a little more relatable.
The main characters are fairly clear-cut. I do feel that their personalities run similar. The side characters actually felt a bit more rounded. Everything is very external, and the occasional line made me question whether this is meant to be limited perspective or not. I quite enjoyed Phoenix. I wish Alex was a bit more distinct from him, but it’s early in the story yet. That development may be yet to come.
This is a high quality story, and I feel a LOT of RR readers will greatly enjoy it.
The plot alone is very interesting. Not quite traditional GameLit, so I think it adds a bit to the stakes of the story. The story shifts from multiple perspectives which can take some getting used to, but it's not something that breaks immersion. The author is able to make the world feel both desolate and populated at the same time; there are only other players/entrants in the game that God has created, so the locales feel empty but the threat of others is always pertinent.
The style is nice to read. Every character has their own goals, motivations and style of personality, so with each chapter you can tell who is talking even without looking at the title.