Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

It has been ninety years since the Initialization, when Earth was inundated by a galaxy-sized cloud of nanites called Mist.  With it came a system by which people could upgrade and improve themselves to superhman levels, but it came with a cost.  Billions dead.  A world overrun by monsters.  Cities abandoned and destroyed.  And over it all, powerful alien overlords await for the opportunity to swoop in and exploit Earth and its people for all their worth.  

Follow Mirabelle in this post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk setting as her uncle trains her to survive in this brutal, unforgiving universe.  

New chapters every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday (should be around 3000-4000 words) at 9AM CST.  I hope to increase that to four chapters a week at some point, but that may be a couple of months down the road.  

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nrsearcy

nrsearcy

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storybookknight
Overall
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Story
Grammar
Character

There's a lot to like about Mistrunner's setting. The use of nanotechnology to blend cyberpunk and LitRPG trends is clever, and the addition of sinister alien overlords to the typical corporate plutocracy helps rationalize a lot of the other setting details - most of which I find quite interesting. The sharp contrast between the sterile megacities and the brutally hostile wilds is innovative, decently well executed... but unfortunately, despite how deeply thought-out the setting is, the actual narrative has some problems.

The protagonist of this story, Mirabelle, is a fairly sympathetic narrator, reasonably well developed (although I found a lot of her motivations and emotions somewhat ... inconsistent), but as a protagonist in general and a cyberpunk protagonist in particular, she has committed a cardinal sin: she is someone who events happen to.

Mirabelle, or Mira as she calls herself, has no friends. The only person who matters to her at all, one way or another, is her uncle - a survivor from the pre-nanotech days, a gang leader, someone who has kept her in an ivory tower most of her life. So far, so good, if you're setting up a family drama, but while initial hints are made in that direction, further chapters prove out that's not the case.

Mira also has no enemies. She crossed some criminals, but her uncle shot them all, so everything is fine. She also doesn't want her planet taken over by aliens, but that's her uncles goal, that she's inherited, and doesn't seem to feel terribly strongly about. This is somewhat more concerning.

Mira has no goals, other than the ones her uncle proscribes. She leaves the city she's familiar with and heads out into the dangerous wilds, because her uncle tells her it's necessary. She helps deliver supplies to an outpost her uncle feels deeply about. She does the training her uncle tells her, mostly without complaint. At this point, I started wondering... why is she the protagonist of this story?

Yes, Mira has superpowers - an incredibly advanced LitRPG skill system beyond what anyone else has, worth millions or billions of dollars... that her Uncle bought and gave to her, along with all of the other goodies necessary to make it meaningful. Yes, it seems clear that she will one day be someone interesting, who does things and has goals and so on.

But so far, Mira experiences an almost criminal lack of meaningful conflict, existing mostly as an accessory to her uncle. She doesn't agree with her uncle's assertion that most people are worthless, but she doesn't have any emotional bonds with the 'normal' people her uncle despises worth fighting for. She's a spoiled rich girl from the city suddenly thrust into the unsettled wilderness, but there are no rival characters mocking her for not knowing what mud is, or daring her to climb trees, or ... anything. She exists as a character who is unfamiliar with the setting and needs to have things explained to her (which to be fair is a very useful writing technique for conveying the setting to the reader) but little more than that.

No matter how interesting your setting is, no matter how well thought out the internal tensions driving your plot are, they don't matter unless they matter to the protagonist, and this story fails by that measure. Yes, Mirabelle experiences tension and challenges - the caravan she's a part of is ambushed, a gunfight ensues, but she has no skin in the game other than survival, and there are no apparent consequences to that gunfight other than Mirabelle gaining a few levels in gunfighting and "combat mind". 

In short, after tens of thousands of words and over a dozen chapters, I found myself pleasantly intrigued by this story's setting... and wondering when the heck the actual plot was going to start. As far as "Cyberpunk" goes, "I did some street crime and then my rich uncle shielded me from all consequences and gave me superpowers but was super mean and sent me to boot camp" doesn't exactly scream "sticking it to the man." 

Charitably, I'd call this story a 'slow burn'. Realistically, I find myself hoping the author addresses the structural issues with the narrative, gives Mirabelle some peers to interact with her own age, and possibly kills her uncle in an assassination or something that forces Mirabelle to stop relying on him and to face meaningful challenge, sooner rather than later.

DungeonEnvy
Overall

The worldbuilding, writing, and style all exist here to set a compelling tale of cyberpunk oppression by aliens - Humanity was Integrated into a system, and the most successful humans sold everyone else out to the aliens.

The main character is awful, though. She's spoiled rotten, and has everything literally handed to her by her expert survivalist ultra competent uncle and his various connections.

Sure, she's seemingly motivated to improve and get better, but so far(17 chapters in), every problem she's faced has been solved for her, and even her build, skills, and weaponry have been pre-selected by her wealthy, talented, well-connected and respected uncle who seems like a much more developed character on every front.

Jeremiah was apparently the hero of a previous story by the author, but he's still dominating the stage here and overshadowing the MC, stifling all narrative growth. The only meaningful quality Mira has is agreeing with everything he does

The story has room to blossom eventually but it would be well-served by taking Jeremiah out of the picture MUCH sooner, rather than later.

issaqua
Overall

I really like this author (great writing!) and I'm struggling with the character setup for the MC - the worldbuilding and story look awesome btw.  I really struggle with why a character who for "reasons" runs away from home (aka spoilt rich kid) and to prove how shallow she is (*spoilers*) kills people -intentionally or not - to steal shoes!

I can't believe that this sort of person is going to be selfless enough to "save the world"... we've only set up that she'd rob a clothes store :( 

 

I really want to like this but the setup is  "off" to me compared to previous works I've read of the author.

 

s44
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Between apocalypse and integration

Reviewed at: 15. Debts

I didn't get very far in the author's other story, but this is one of the strongest entries in an increasingly popular subgenre of system apocalypse: the aftermath of humanity fucking up its initial chance. Here, humans haven't been wiped out, but mostly herded into soul-crushing megalopolises led by alien collaborators, frittering away the last years before even more ruthless aliens can come and openly take everything.

The author noted on reddit that this started out as a standard apocalypse story, and the hero of that version - Jeremiah Braddock - is the strongest presence here. His backstory - medically discharged sniper turned apocalypse elite turned cynical underworld boss - gives us a familiar frame for the main story, where we see him invest much of his present (substantial) resources and all of his (almost nonexistent) hope in the actual MC, his great-grandniece Mira. Humanity may be too fucked up and too weak to resist the Integration in ten years, but he will give everything to ensure that she survives it (and, given the way these stories work, probably more).

The MC herself is pretty well sketched, but as this first arc is about her training and worldly education (with what looks to be a fun dose of milSF tropes) she isn't as vivid a presence as her uncle yet. The author does nicely walk the line between having her be unrealistically goody-goody and making her annoying, whiny, or an idiot/idiot-ball-holder.

This is a tight, traditionally novelistic story so far, without the digressions and mini-plots you might expect in a web serial. Still, all the litRPG tropes and beats - system intro, skill leveling, XP from kills, spatial storage, system shop access, etc. - are present and well integrated into the cyberpunk setting.

No spelling, grammar, or poor-use-of-language complaints.

Grin
Overall

Much great, much interesting.

Writing's excellent, often funny and relatable. Even if it's not " the best writing there ever was" it's pretty damn good.

The plot does not feel contrived in any way, the characters feel very real.  Even if the MC is not my usual cup of tea, she feels very ... genuine? I don't know how to put it into words, and this novel is still amazing.

Not worldbuilding focused, though there is quite a bit, but it's somewhat subtly done without any big exposition dumps though (thanks to the uncle being a man of few words ... well played nrsearcy, well played...). 

It'll (probably) get its hooks into you if you give it a chance, and by that I mean a few chapters to let the story get started. No problems with the pacing.

Really want to see where the story is taken next.

Toodles, and stay crispy !

Reyaliz
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Mistrunner takes place in a gritty world plagued by beings beyond their control. Rules are askew, and each aspect visible is swaddled in advanced tech. The world the novel takes place is a tangible setting that feels real, and the main character we follow even more so.

Style ~ (5/5 Stars) - I appreciate the ability to hear the character's voice in the narrationespecially if it's first person. You gain a good feeling on how Mira perceives her surroundings. More importantly, it's interesting. I vividly remember scrolling on my phone, reading the scuffle the MC had landed herself in, only to realize that her name had never been said. It doesn't come up in the entire first chapter. I was too caught up in what she was thinking about, and wondering how she was going to get herself out of trouble.

I will say that some sentences are meandering, but I don't think any were too hard to follow.

Grammar ~ (5/5) - Nothing seemed amiss, from what I could tell.

Story ~ (4/5) - I'm a sucker for a weak-to-strong trope. Doesn't matter where, when, or howsign me up! However, the main character is what drives this plot device far. Mira's personality is something that drew me into the story, but she doesn't have a clear cut goal. In the world Mistrunner takes place, everyone wants to become stronger because the weak are stomped on. What makes Mira's journey so special? In Chapter Nine, she seems to wrestle with the same question, which leads me to believe that the goal is not missing, just yet to be integrated.

Character ~ (4.5/5 Stars) - Mira's not the only person in the story with a solid personality. Her uncle is shaped out to be his own hero, helped with the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The few side characters that come and go each have their own quirk (Nora's physique, the cybersurgeon's succinct speech, etc) that make them memorable.

Overall, I will say that this story is a great read. The prose is clean, and the cyberpunk setting is enrapturing. If you're still teetering on the line on whether you should read this, just go ahead! You won't regret it.

Jaksterzoo
Overall

Not a bad book. I do feel like the training ark is taking a bit longer then usual so far and isn't accomplishing the goals it needs to but everything else seems pretty decent. The world building is plausible, no faults. Grammar isn't bad, few typo's if any. 

The one thing I believe the author can fix is maybe picking the time skips. For example, *spoiler* he didn't skip how the character did a vast majority of their training yet skipped basic training. Now, the reason I am nailing on this fact is because this is her transition, along with killing a couple dozen people, to a hard/physical training regimen from a somewhat sheltered lifestyle. Yes, the 'hell' training month did highlight will but honestly? It feels like 'basic training', which normally is suppose to shape a person, wasn't their to give any insights but more of a quick boost to explain why the main character is physically strong. I feel kind of apathy for the MC and kind of don't know what they can do or exactly learned. Nor did we learn more about the world per or what they discovered. Perfect time to do so if they are doing less 'time skips' so that time skip, at the start of training, did not make sense in my opinion. Other then that, liking the story so far.

Arensor
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

A Unique Blend of Cyberpunk and Litrpg

Reviewed at: 17. The Basics

This is a unique story in a lot of ways. I really like the implementation of litrpg mechanics in this story as it does not allow for a lot of deux ex machina type situations where due to luck/skill the main character gains the skill he needs in a stressful moment to come out on top.  Spoilers on the litrpg system are down below.

The litrpg system functions as an implant that has a set number of skills. The levels that you get are more traditionally given after killing other entities. The way this system changes though is that levels function to raise the cap on your stats instead of giving you x stats.

Aside from the functional aspects of the story the style and grammar are both on point here. I can't remember any grammatical mistakes which for me gets a 5 stars and as for style I think that the direction of the story is great. A lot of the environments get detailed out nicely and you feel the environments as the MC moves along. The main detracting point I have for this story are the characters. To me the most fleshed out character by far is the main characters' uncle Jeremiah. Jeremiah is a great character with a lot of nuance taht we have been slowly exploring throughout the story. On the other hand basically all other characters are forgettable and even the main character herself hasn't had much character development up until recent patreon chapters.  This is a great novel in the apocalyptic cyberpunk genre and is one of the better novels on the site.

Twi122
Overall

Very enjoyable storyline and action. I love the setting, it feels unique even based on the cyber punk aesthetic. MC is a pleasure to get to know, driven but not unbelievable. I hope the enhancements she received don't make her too OP later on in the story, as much as power fantasies are fun to read. Great grammar and spelling. Looking forward to the rest of the story, thank you!

PlumParrot
Overall
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Grammar
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First person, visceral cyberpunk experience

Reviewed at: 19. A Month of Hell

I'm a big cyberpunk fan, and I'm always interested to see how an author that writes LitRPG will integrate the idea into a SF-type setting. I think nrsearcy has done a really good job of it with the clever use of the "mist" and the way it integrates skill systems with tech.

The hints of the cyberpunk world are there, and what we get is really well done, I'm just hoping for more down the road. I'd like to see our MC develop some larger goals that are more sympathetic to us readers. I feel like it's being hinted at and that this will flesh out as the story progresses.

I was pleased to see the story in first person - I know it's not uncommon, but I haven't read that POV in a while, and I think it makes the combat and urgency feel more immediate. This is largely due to the cleverly written prose, with solid pacing and shifts in tone.

It's difficult to write a solid, round character - someone who needs growth but isn't so bad or annoying that it turns readers away. I think the author has done a good job in that department. The MC is entitled and lacks larger vision, but seems to be learning and isn't unlikeable enough that we don't want to see her grow.

As far as technicals go, the spelling, grammar, etc., are all good. Some minor issues here and there, like the wrong type of dash being used, but nothing that would make it hard to read or understand.

I was really impressed and am looking forward to reading more!