Top critical review
Good idea, less than ideal execution
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 29, 2022
I'm waffling between 2-1/2 stars and 3, but decided on 3 because I did purchase the next book in the series.
Let me first start off this review by mentioning I've played a lot of MMOs with most of my focus on World of Warcraft, Black Desert, Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. And I am one of those completionists who has to do all the quests and get the best armor and know all the nuances of my character's classes and constantly upgrade to have the game's most meta build.
Pros: The idea is a good one and the story starts out pretty entertaining. Joe has an usual class given to him by a Hidden God (cool idea) but he must keep it secret so what other players see is that Joe is a Monk/Cleric and provides heals for the group. Love all that.
Cons: The idea is executed poorly.
Joe is a paraplegic from IED in the military and agrees to have his consciousness uploaded into a game and his body destroyed. That's acceptable. What I couldn't believe is the way his mother suddenly won and lottery and was able to pay the exorbitant fee to pay for the game company uploading Joe's consciousness into a game. There had to been a better way to do this, like for people with Joe's condition, it's free on the grounds that scientists can study the effects of living in a game on the human psyche or brain. The "my mom won the lottery" lacks imagination.
Joe's hidden class The Ritualist. That is a cool class if this were a regular fantasy story and not a litrpg. Thus far it's a very bad idea for an MMO class. This may change as I read the next book. But in context of a MMO like game that Joe is in, it makes no sense. It's slow, mana intensive, and resource intensive and worthless unless he has time and resources to set it up. Maybe the author is going somewhere with it, but we'll see. It makes me think the author doesn't play MMOs and decided to write one because it's a popular genre right now.
Joe's 'fake' class that everyone sees is Cleric/Monk. I played this class in WoW and Guildwars and it is perpetually in demand. Que up for a dungeon in WoW as a Healer, and you're instantly in a group. In fact, you almost can't have a group in WoW without a Healer. At first , in the story, it seemed players were thrilled to have Joe despite the fact that he was under level, but then suddenly no one wants him, and the way the game mechanics work in The Ritualist, a group MUST HAVE a healer. Groups would be clamoring to have Joe in their group even if he does have a knack for attracting trouble.
Spawn times when you die: What? It takes HOURS to respawn? Any MMO that did this would bleed players until it was a ghost town and the game company went bankrupt. No. Just no. It a huge nope in a game, and it's a huge nope in a book that's suppose to be a litrpg.
If a writer is going to write a litrpg, I expect them to be familiar with either MMOs or DnD or both.
A friend told me that this author's big draw is the puns. I saw no puns, and those I saw were not funny and the system's snarky notices as Joe levels up were only mildly amusing.
Joe is the main character. I'm not sure I like him. I like that he's determined and smart, but it seems the writer isn't sure who Joe is either so the character is all over the place from being a healer to the guards, to taking a Mage hostage and forgetting to leave him food and water. His interactions with his first group is awkward and not fun to read. Joe is written like he's three different people. Maybe this changes in the following stories, but this should have been really cemented in the first one because it's the hook for the series.
Lastly, grammar and editing is good. But, the author isn't a competent writer and would benefit from creative writing classes with a focus on using words to paint a picture and avoid pitfalls like "He grinned evilly". That's just one example and every time he resorts to that lazy writing flaw, it pulls me out of the story. I hate correcting passive sentences in my head while I read, and I did that a lot with his story which is why I would rate it a 2-1/2.
I found this book frustrating to read because while it could be fantastic, the author's skill is not yet up to the task of writing an immersive story. I'm about to quit reading litrpgs because it seems to be a trend to jump on the bandwagon with zero creative writing skills and bang out a 'good enough' story. However, there are so many 5 and 4 stars that I guess most readers don't care.