- Traumatising content
Choosing a college when your family is struggling can be difficult, but it isn’t supposed to be world ending. And the falling meteor is seriously limiting Matt’s options.
Now in the aftermath, his home city is locked down by a mysterious dome, corporations are looking to monopolize a wealth of new untapped resources, and people are suddenly developing powers via a system that seems to have borderline sinister intentions. In the chaos, he decides to stick to what he knows: stay out of the spotlight, grind, and survive.
Watch as Matt is dragged into a dark LITRPG set in the real world, where the price of failure is death, and the prize for winning is beyond his wildest dreams.
There’s a couple big influences here: Solo-Leveling, Squid Game, and Code Geass. If you enjoy LITRPG stories with morally gray characters, high stakes, and smart protagonists who start weak and eventually become powerful in a unique way, you’ll probably find something to like. But be forewarned. It won’t be easy.
Find book one on Kindle Unlimited & Audible.
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(This is probably the first time I'll vote less than 5 stars on a story I like.)
Love the story. Love the plot. Every chapter always keep me on edge.
Slightly OP MC but in terms of skills and intelligence rather than in brute strength. He has multiple flaws, but it gives him character. Makes him unforgettable. I read around 5 different novels daily, and his character sticks in my mind due to how memorable he is.
Side characters are properly fleshed out. Not just some side mobs, but actual characters as well. Author brings them to life with his wordplay, and he's great at it.
The plot is great. A modern day apocalypse where everyone is struggling to make sense of things and try to survive. Including the MC. And by struggle, I mean Strugggle, with capital S.
Two complains though.
There's too many things that are happening at the same time. There's like 4-5 plots that are happening together at all given time. Every moment is tense. Cautious. And almost every - if not all - chapter ends with a cliffhanger.
The general flow of the story leaves me anxious, tense and worried. One thing keeps happeng after the other, keeping me engaged. Except that the author, in my viewpoint, is a bit lacking with the execution and falls a bit short at this. There's too many things to keep up and remember, it's just exhausting. And when you forget, then you're just felling lost, reading as you try to remember what happend where while trying to make connections, thus breaking the immersion.
There's a reason why there needs to be a build up to make a successful climax. But this story is almost always on climax. Constant tension followed by weakly built, sudden suspense brings out poor result.
Also, keeping some of the narrative and events vague and mysterious to make the reader think for themselves and form their own theories is fine. Just, maybe, not too vague sometimes? It's confusing and frustrating when one can't figure it out.
The second complain is not really a complain, more like a suggestion. Maybe the author can give us some sort of glossary of the characters, skills, items, and abilities? Like, I don't even remember what the belt thing does except it helps with mobility, and I don't know where to look for it's explanation. Or maybe there's a glossary somewhere, and can someone kindly point it out to me? I love this story and really wanna keep on reading this story.
The story is well written. There are little to no grammar or spelling mistakes in the work itself.
The story starts strong and character driven. We meet a loner, who has borderline spectrum personality disorder. He has his life is pretty much figured out and he makes ends meet. He's grounded and understands his role in the world.
His life is turned around by an outside event that brings a 'system' into play. The story is grounded in reality, hence the seven deadly sins are all in play. The world does not get better, it's a brewing revolution. Someone loses and someone gains power. He understands his position completely, and is trying to adapt and play the system. He's marked as special because of this potential and he tries to make the best of it.
The first major development of his character is when quite a few things in his life start going well for him. His family rallies around the change and he makes important allies. His old friend makes an appearance and he is forced to see a different coloured world than he is used to.
Then around the 70 chapter mark, it goes off the rails and becomes plot driven - a narrative akin to a Michael Bay movie - think "and then, and then, and then". For example, one of the main clandestine groups, who displayed a great deal of competency suddenly start acting like Saturday morning villains - think Skelator - and then it just becomes a series of action scenes with no character development. All previous progress is undone and it becomes really hard to invest further into the story.
While the action scenes are well written, there is little to no progression or payoff - it's a shooter on rails.
I hope it returns to a character driven story. Since at the current stage, even if the main character dies - nothing changes. It's all moot at this point.
A lot of the story is pretty good. I like the situation itself, the system, the MC's abilities, etc. A lot of the characters are well done and feel relatively real. The main problem for me is the MC. He has a high int stat and is supposed to be smart, but keeps making dumb impulsive decisions. A few examples:
He starts off going to check out a bounty and doesn't even bring a kitchen knife. He rushes into melee when he has a crossbow, yells at someone for being somewhere when he didn't leave them any better realistic option, and constantly risks exposing himself to help randoms or people he's met once.
The other problem with the MC is that he's a very bright shade of grey morally. So far he's only done one thing that I'd consider not pure good / neutral, and even then he didn't have much of a choice about it. He keeps risking himself (and by extention, his family) in order to help random people, and he repeatedly whines about how someone is crazy because they killed someone that was trying to kill her right before. He even avoids a headshot he has lined up in favor of an overcomplicated solution including a knee shot! I was hoping he'd use it as an opportunity to grow and start being more reasonable, but he hasn't yet. Currently he just avoided lethal areas while fighting off a group of attackers, so I'm going to drop this.
Overall it's pretty well-written, as long as you are fine with a naive MC. It has some dark moments but overall it's one of the lighter apocalypse type stories I've read by content, although it definitely likes to keep up tension. I would keep reading, but I personally hate MCs that refuse to kill their enemies so I'm gone.
I binged 96 chapters in a day, and I felt early on that this was such a fun ride I might never want to get off. Until each progressive fight left me flabbergasted that is.
Right around the beginning of Matt's adventures it's difficult to see the true nature of the novel, it hits you with high tension and mounting odds that obfuscate its Young Adult nature. There are early signs of the authors intentions, but I swept them away as early character traits that would change over time. The instance of a guy throwing bottles at you? Well even though you came out of a life or death combat situation, you can probably just let that guy go without violence.
The list goes on though, whenever our main character Matt is facing a fight against human enemies, he becomes extremely pacifist, to the point of bluffing out of every encounter. The author does a good job of camoflauging these moments by giving the enemies numbers, perhaps a level advantage, any reason for Matt to not kill them. Yet my own frustration at the bait and switch I felt like had happened didn't lessen. I assumed he'd become more cold blooded as he was ambushed and ganged up on, and yet the author was determined that he find non-lethal solutions at all turns. Disappointing.
Let's move on to the posturing of moral grey the author purports Matt is, despite his morality being more white than my tidy whities. He's always inserting himself into situations, sometimes at the incentive of the system, but often because he wants to.
Despite his mutterings about needing to protect his family, and his thoughts on bigger picture actions he puts himself into a lot of different roles. If morally grey was being manipulative, then it's the lightest shade of grey I've ever seen. Even though Nick's initially introduced as the light to Matt's dark, throughout the story I'd say Matt and Nick are both good guys who want to do right by most people.
My final conclusion is that I was expecting a darker toned story, with a character who behaved more like an assassin. What I got was a pacifist hero with a bit of edge.
As a patreon reader of Eligos' other story, I was excited to see something new coming from this author. Upon reading these first couple chapters I can hardly wait to see what's coming next. We are immediately introduced to a main character who's cynicism is relatable in todays modern world, but even as that world comes crashing down around him we find a glimmer of hope as he adjusts to this new reality. A real world RPG happening in present times is exciting to me as a reader struggling with real-world challenges, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the protagonist deals with his own in such a setting. A fantastic start!
The style is fast moving and easy to read, quickly drawing us into the plot. With a first person perspective we are given direct view of events unfolding as they happen. The author gives us immediate action, pulling us into the story with a tone that fits the genre well.
Story moves quickly and is engaging and does not waste the reader's time. With the inciting incident occurring early in the first chapter, we are quickly introduced to a parallel reality through the protagonist's eyes. There is a intriguing struggle to accept this reality as the main character thinks on his feet, managing a non-stop barrage of story development. The result is a relatable and exciting read.
Grammer is sophisticated, edging on being too much so at times, but is not inaccessible to the average reader. Sentence structure is engaging and loyal to the first person narrative voice. We find clever references to real world topics such as philosophy and art. Overall, this makes for a delightful read that draws in the audience.
We are given a cast of characters here that are very real-world; namely, the protagonist. I admit to being a bit unsure of what I would find when seeing the antihero tag on this story, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a protagonist that is, understandably, worn down by the challenges of modern life, yet still caring and compassionate for his friends and loved ones. As we journey with him through the inner monologue he experiences while facing a new reality, and even his own mortality, what we find is a character that is closer to our own inner voice than a typical antihero would be. Above all, these characters are undeniably human, and I found this to be refreshing, especially in the LitRPG setting.
To be fair, I've enjoyed the story. The plot is a solid system apocalypse, brought about by a System granting meteor, but only for a few chosen users. Our MC manages to get his hands on a restricted class which has huge implications for the System and the apocalypse.
The characters are well written and mostly believable with their weird quirks and personalities. Each is distinctive and have their own motivations.
Till now our hero is a heavily Chaotic Good character, even veering off into Lawful Good occasionally. His low self-esteem convinces him that he's evil and it can get exhausting occasionally; the MC could stand to have more self awareness.
The plot is solid and constantly builds upon itself dragging the reader deeper and deeper. The plot is significantly richer and more interesting on Ch 200+ so it is worth the read.
So, why am I giving 3.5 stars? Going into light spoiler territory, it is due to the ham-fisted Disawoval mini-arc. Our YA MC, who is supposedly one of the smartest people in the story, completely loses his head (along with other great characters) just to drive the plot in a certain direction.
One of the MC's identities gets disawoved because everybody thinks his class is too dangerous. (While our MC is out and about with a fake class)
First, our MC just saved thousands of civilians from having to fight a battle royale to survive. This alone should put him above suspicion.
But no, our intrepid Feds will question him because he knows someone who has a restricted class and he's done something Bad. But how do they know that something Bad happened?
Because the aliens, who are entertaining themselves on the death and destruction of the human race, told everyone so, based on circumstantial evidence at best.
The entire human race just takes the word of these alien entities as Gospel truth.
Second, the only reason the MC's class is restricted is because it is a Mind Mage-like class. How broken is the system that one Mind Mage can apparently break whole armies? This is all we know even by Ch 200+. Hopefully it clears up later.
I thought the premise was good, the world goes to shit and mc has to find his way through the new world while trying to hide his powers. It went well in the beginning with a smart mc that tried to increase his strength and focus on his own lane. But that all quickly changed. Mc decided he needs to insert himself in every possible problem and try to fix them. The way he goes about it feels very cringe to me. It's the classic I do everything for the greater good even if nobody will understand and even hate me for it. I will say mc does not always shy away from killing people that are trying to kill him which thankfully made it more bareable. But overall it felt cringe and unrealistic especially for a guy his age. Also the inner dialogue feels like mc is a professional psychologist that has insight in everyones character including his own. It did not feel realistic or organic more like I am reading a movie script. It began with a solid 5/5 but now at chapter 117 I can't give it more than a 3/5 and will probably stop reading for now.
Before I start my review I want to say that I had fun reading this. It's fairly entertaining and kept me interested. The good parts of this story have been noted by many other reviewers, so I want mine to take a look at what I find wrong with the story. This is not meant to be taken as an attack on the story or author but as feedback and criticism on what I take issue with personally.
This story has fairly big issues with characters not making logical decisions or the background universe not making sense. The dome covers 10 million people and a fairly large area. One corporate group in particular are the villains of this story and seemingly are the cause of almost every problem so far. I think the author has failed to imagine exactly how big 10 million people is here.
One group even with some super powers won't make a difference in an area that large with that many people. You could drop 1,000 of our protagonists in that area and still fail to seem noticible. The area our story takes place in has a hyper militarized police force with actual military hardware and vehicles. They have military APCs. These users are gonna get turned into bloody mist by 20mm auto cannons. A large portion of the population has guns too. It's literally impossible that they won't get gunned down easily when they can't use guns themselves. Their magic sucks too with the exception of the higher levels.
The character's are where things get bad. MC comes across as fairly competent but paranoid, at first. As of chapter 100 he seems like one of those DND player characters who has a tragic backstory to justify his cringe edgy protagonist behavior. I honestly can't say when it started, but he feels like an action movie character and not in a good way.
The mom and merchant need more screen time as they barely get enough. The plot with the brother seems contrived, which really makes the reader hate him. The adventurer party was the best part of this story by a mile. The villains on the other hand seem less menacing and more like an annoying plot device to force the story along.
If you are going to reveal the antagonist group like that there should be some build up. The federal agent would be way more interesting as an antagonist than the mysterious corporate dudes. With 10 million people there should be a wider variety of people to choose from.
Everyone's classes outside of the MC seems so bland. Is it unreasonable to throw ice powers around or teleport when seemingly everyone is packing guns? And no the two mages and Adventurer party don't count, they are main or side cast.
Updated review in edit below:
There are a number of litrpg stories on this site that have excellent action, or world building. Characterization is by far the more difficult challenge, it's what makes something like Beware of Chicken so good. This story NAILS the characters. All of the characters have their own unique voice and are distinct. The side characters are all interesting, and even the ones that seem set up to be annoying, like the alcoholic mom, don't get in the way of the story. They are woven into it in a way that makes sense.
The stakes feel real and the author has managed to present actual challenges due to the nefarious characters lurking around, the resource issues from being blockaded, and the potential for social breakdown on the horizon.
I can't recommend this enough, this is an exceptional offering for a genre that tends to be very low effort and trope filled. Special shout out to having a truly well thought out anti-hero MC. The background and justification for why he is the way he is...*chef's kiss*
EDIT: I had to go back and edit this down after reading more. The initial premise of the entire story is a lie. There's no morally grey, nihilistic and brutally pragmatic MC. It's just your standard shining white knight MC, the only difference is that he has a dark internal monologue that he ignores to save the day, even to the detriment of his stated goals (protect his family, don't get caught). If this story was set up with that premise, that he was like every other goody-two-shoes MC it wouldn't be a problem, but the conflict between how the story is set up vs how it actually plays out makes it nearly unreadable.
Double Blind is... Hard to explain.
I've never really read Lord of the Flies, so I can only assume it is pretty similar in atmosphere, when MC is facing others trapped in the dome. There are so very many spoilers that could happen, that would ruin some of the tension if I said it here though.
The story starts with an already complicated character, with an established background and personality, chock full of emotional traumas and baggages. Jaded, cynical, pragmatic, manipulative, still Matt tries his best earning cash and favors anonymously to overcome the problems facing him and his family. Take a note of that; family, a mother and two younger siblings, they will and always has been important to him.
Arguably, it is shown -shown, not told- that Matt is a brilliant teen. He is not famed because of it was tarnished by his family circumstances and social-economic background. On the other hand, those same circumstances polished that tranished brilliance... Into a dim and hidden edge.
That edge -as well as the strength of his willpower- will be sorely tested, again and again, during the course of this story.
Anyway, lots of other stuff that I don't want to spoil you readers -go read- but here is the rest of the reviews.
Style - System-based Apocalypse, in long-term abusive relationship with, uh, let's say Factional and Psychological Thriller. The setting is pretty gritty, albeit with the permissive bullshit that comes with most Systems. The modern world is recognizable and familiar, with all the cliches of 'What are you in the dark' coming to the fore with the encroaching apocalypse, while the other side of the equation is still majorly hidden so far.
Four and a half from me, because I typically read stories with comedy, so when I say this thriller is good, it is damned good.
Story - The story is unrelenting. There is barely filler, Matt jumps from one problem to another, often while being chased by another problem. There are many plots, external and internal, that causes our protagonist major stress points.
Four and half, I hate stress, but damn it, the story is just good.
Grammar - Not a grammar nazi, and I never found any glaring inconsistensies.
Character - Another major point of the story. Matt is a flawed character, brilliant and broken, still he is very easily relatable. Other characters are also well-written; from the family members, close acquaintances, even to hostile monsters and recently met strangers, they are all interesting to read.
Four and a half, because, again, this is not my typical fare for reading. No comic relief here.
All in all, this is a review by a guy who typically reads comedic and fluffy stories. Now you go read this story.