• AlterWorld

  • Play to Live, Book 1
  • By: D. Rus
  • Narrated by: Michael Goldstrom
  • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (3,899 ratings)

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AlterWorld

By: D. Rus
Narrated by: Michael Goldstrom
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Publisher's Summary

A new pandemic - the perma effect - has taken over Earth of the near future. Whenever you play your favorite online game, beware: your mind might merge with the virtual world and dump its comatose host. Woe be to those stuck forever in Tetris! And still they're the lucky ones compared to those burning alive eternally within the scorched hulls of tank simulators. But some unfortunates - the handicapped and the terminally ill, shell-shocked army vets, wronged crime victims and other society misfits - choose to flee real life willingly, escaping to the limitless world of online sword and sorcery MMORPGs. Once a seasoned gamer and now a terminal cancer patient, Max grasps at this final chance to preserve his life and identity. So he goes for it - goes for the promise of immortality shared with a few trusty friends and the woman he loves. Together they roam the roads of AlterWorld and sample its agony and ecstasy born of absolute freedom.

©2014 D. Rus (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about AlterWorld

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    2,268
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Performance
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Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    2,129
  • 4 Stars
    825
  • 3 Stars
    385
  • 2 Stars
    163
  • 1 Stars
    146

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One Of The Best Books I Have

(I am not going to give a synopsis of the story because you can look at the description and the other review and get some good ones)
These days it takes a lot to get me to really rave about a book. I have over 400 books in my audible library and I have listened to almost all of them because I have a long commute almost every day. I bought this book on a whim, not expecting much out of the idea of real life mixing with a video game. I have read books before where a human mind gets trapped in a video game, or where people bring video games into real life, and other compounds of the two. This book, however, surpassed them all.
I have some background playing video games. I am a bit of a gamer now (on steam) and played World of Warcraft as a teenager for a couple of months before I realized that it was sucking my life away. But I have never forgotten that time and the fun that I had on that MMORPG, going on raids with other players, leveling up my character, joining a clan and deciding which stats I wanted.
As such, the my inner nerd had a nerdgasam about an hour into this book and I haven't looked back since.
There was a time, about three hours in, that I thought that although this was a fun book, it was not going to be very deep as far as themes and character development. I couldn't have been more wrong. The book and the series that follows (I am on book three right now) deal with some very heavy themes indeed, from life and death, to government involvement in personal life, to revenge, to rape, to the concept of eternity, to slavery, to greed, to what makes things right or wrong... The list goes on and on. It has been a while since I listened to a book that did such a good job of involving deep ideas while still moving the story forward in an such an interesting way. The main character also kept my interest all of the way through while continuing to change and grow as a person and as a game character.
The narrator for this book is also excellent.
One other thing: I figured out part way through that this book was translated form Russian to English. The translation is flawless however, as can be seen from the fact that I didn't even realize it for quite some time.

91 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

MY INNER PIG

STRENGTH VS INTELLIGENCE
Let me start with what I like, as I was entertained, but my list of problems are long. The possibility of being able to imprint your mind into a game is intriguing. Being able to cheat death also intriguing. At times I wanted to quit listening and go play a game. Figuring out how the game worked was interesting and for the first half of the game I was at five star level. I also liked that this player chose to have an intelligent player, figuring the majority of players would go for strength. It is weird that they put a sword on the cover of the book, as this player never uses one. I also like books by foreign authors, just so I can get a feel for their culture. What it would be like to live in a game and not be able to leave is probably what carries this whole story.

MY STOMACH THINKS MY THROATS CUT
I gave Nick from Ga. a helpful vote as he hits the nail on the head. I am an old man, so I am not as much in to gaming as the generation of my kids, but I do know enough. I know that these games are set up for it to take you awhile to learn how to play. That you are going to die several times trying to figure the game out. I can only recall this character dying once. In hours, he is levels above players who have been at the game for weeks. The story could have been better with more conflict and had the main character had a harder time of it. It shows a weakness in the author's abilities that he made it so easy. He also makes a big deal out of the fact that he did not check this world out too carefully before he decided to make it his world for eternity. He is an experienced gamer and he has played several games, but when he is going to pick a game for life, it is done without thought. Since it was done this way and he points it out, I was expecting this to bite him on the butt, sometime in the game, but nothing came of it. I also want to point out that while at times I wanted to play a game, at other times it was like watching your older brother play Nintendo, but not let you play. I got tired of this is worth so many points and adds this to my several abilities, all spelled out specifically. Take all this out and the book is two thirds smaller.

THE GIRL
It must be a cultural thing, as I ran into it, reading another Sci-fi Russian novel, but women never play a role in the book or as in this one they are belittled. Even though you can mold your character anyway you want, you can even pick your sex, the main female character is a wisp of a thing. She is his girlfriend and he often refers to her as THE GIRL. Her are some of the quotes referring to women, including his girlfriend. NOTHING LIKE A TRINKET TO MAKE A GIRL HAPPY. WOMEN AND THIER LOGIC. EVEN TALLIA DECIDED NOT TO BE A DIVA. ALL WOMEN WERE THE SAME, YOU OFFERED THEM A HAND THEY TOOK AN ARM. WHAT A CHILD SHE WAS. When he first meets her, he is considered the romantic hero, cause while everyone else is gifting her items that will help her in the game, he gifts her worthless flowers, cause girls prefer flowers over anything useful.

For the most part I was engaged and entertained. With all it's faults if book two goes on sale, I will purchase it. Towards the end it looks like the story is going to turn dark, but if he glides through the game as easily as he did book one, I will not go further in the series.

If you are not familiar with games, than you will not enjoy this book. There are a lot of game acronyms and familiarity with gaming expected.


60 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Gaming Ever-After

As an old time gamer dating back to the days of my first quest on my eight bit Nintendo Entertainment System playing as Link in The Legend of Zelda I really enjoy the latest books that try and capture that same adventurous feeling and take gaming to another dimension. I thoroughly enjoyed Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One,” but was disappointed by his second book “Armada,” in that it wasn’t the immersion into the gaming world that was RPO. I wanted to find another book with the ability to follow along with a character that was totally immersed into his virtual world and become one with him on his quest. Then I found not just a book but a series called, “Play to Live”
. In this first book “Alter World,” we meet a terminal cancer patient, Max, who is looking for an alternative from the fate that would normally await him. What he finds is a vivid digital world that kept my ears glued to every word. This is a must listen for anyone that likes this genre.
D Rus is a Russian born writer and his books are translated into English; I believe it makes some of the references using his culture perspective a more interesting story.
The narration by Michael Goldstrom is terrific.

50 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not for people who are expecting a 4.5 star book

What disappointed you about AlterWorld?

If you're just looking for a fun story about a bunch of people stuck in a video game, and aren't too particular about quality, then you'll probably enjoy this book. If you're just looking for a fun read, go ahead. AlterWorld isn't necessarily awful, just sub par, but I was expecting A LOT more given the book's 4.5 star rating. So this review is really for people who are expecting a story that reflects the stars it's received.

Characters were flat and predictable, with nothing particularly special about them. Dialogue was cringe-worthy at times. The story itself doesn't do anything out of the ordinary either, and the writing is at about a high school level (to be fair, the author is very young). I don't understand why this series has such high ratings–it's average at best, and is completely undeserving of the 4.5 stars. Getting thrown into a video game world is an interesting (albeit overdone) topic, but the author could really benefit from developing his character/plot development skills, and could ESPECIALLY work on pushing his writing skills further.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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Gaming gone boring

Where does AlterWorld rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
Very low.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
If I hear the phrase "my inner greedy pig" one more time......the author must love that phrase since I heard it about 25X during the reading. It really got old after the first 10.

Any additional comments?
This book is repetitive, slow and boring. It felt like grinding during a gaming session. Also this book is definitely NOT for non gamers. Many references and storyline elements( like tech trees) are straight out of gaming references( I had to look some I'd forgotten, like DOT) I barely finished the book; not really caring about any of the characters. So. no sequel for me.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

It really is that good

After reading the synopsis of this audiobook I was marginally interested in giving it a listen. Then I read the title of a review on Audible of which the title was this, “Yes that’s right better then Ready player one”. To me. that was a pretty bold statement as I adored Ready Player One. For a book to be better than that is huge.

The author D. Rus, is from Russia so much of the geographical comparisons are directed to that end. From what I could tell, it is told in present day, or the near future. There is a MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game), something akin to World of Warcraft, except the player can play the game in these full immersion capsules. That allows the player to literally be alive in the game. They can feel pain, actually swing their swords at the enemy, etc. Sounds pretty awesome to this nerd! Here is the really interesting part. Player that play in the capsules consistently for too long have a high probability of going “perma effect” within the game. What this means is that your mind and conciseness become digitized and only exist in the game. At this point it does not matter what happens to your body, it can die and you will continue to live in the digital AlterWorld.

Our protagonist is Max, who is diagnosed with a terminal illness. His only chance of living past the next month is to go perma in AlterWorld. So, of course, that is what he sets out to do.

Very geeky gaming explanations or the intricacies of AlterWorld were included, because Max was not a gamer and we learn as he does, well mostly. From creating an avatar, his digital character, to the way the HUD (Heads up display) works, to getting and choosing quests.

Then it ends when Max is in immediate peril and I had to start listening to the next book right away.

Yes, I did gloss over much of the actual story in this review. I did not want to chance giving anything away. Amazing story. Plain and simple.

I was thoroughly entranced by the Alterworld and by the situations Max gets himself into and the other characters. If you are a gaming and or fantasy nerd like me. You will love this audiobook. Do your self a favor and bu them all right now.

Michael Goldstrom was a perfect choice to bring this audiobook to life. I cannot imagine, even Wil Wheaton, could do a better job with this amazing story. He was able to make all of the explanations of the game content seem so natural. Good characterizations, where he really shines is with the pacing fluctuations. Everything I look for in a good narrator performance Goldstrom excelled at.

Audiobook purchased for review by ABR.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Are you a gamer?

If you are a gamer, you might enjoy it. If you are not, don't bother. The entire book was like watching a gamer's YouTube videos. The actual effects of the "digitized life" are vastly overlooked. Superficial. If you have the patience, this may be remedied in following books, but I am not optimistic about it. I will not be following this series unless I run out of options.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

The accidental bigot

I read this highly rated book with hopes of "Ready Player One" or "Off to be the wizard" what I got was bags of disappointment and appalling bigotry.

The main character, is similar to my racist, misogynistic uncle that doesn't think he is a bigot but just says amazingly bigoted, racist, misogynistic things because he is too ignorant to know better.

Here are a few gems:

"Taali [main love interest, who is almost as leveled and accomplished as the male hero] smiled and turned on her femme fatale look. Head up high, hips swaying, she walked over to the chosen point and began setting up camp. What a child she was, really."

"I lowered my eyes playing the poor penniless Jew."

"The sight of slim Elven maidens doing their corpse runs like some bikini beach joggers, was too much for any red-blooded male. Damn those art designers."

"Even Taali chose not to play the spoiled diva and logged in two minutes before time."

There was not much story here. I was curious to see how some of the quests ended, but the author decided to stop writing his short little novel mid-sentence. Brilliant Marketing for him. Terrible Story Telling.

Please, instead of giving me my money back.. please give me my time back and delete this book from my memory.

Narrator did a good job though.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Bad... Just Bad...

Virtual Reality has been a hot topic in light fiction and East Asian authors have beaten it to death in recent years. The author obliquely references such works in this novel, yet his own writing fails to measure up to big Chinese, Japanese, and Korean works.

AlterWorld is boring, uninspired, and repetitive. Only if you enjoy watching your big brother level grind would you like this book. The main character's fighting tactics bring mouse clicking and hot-key mapping to mind. I constantly wondered how playing in this Virtual Reality was any better than on my PC. I only listened until the end out of defiance for having spent money on this.

Do you wish that your friends were fawning yes-men, that women slept with you after tossing them trinkets, and that God acknowledged your total awesomeness at playing with corpses and smoking cigarettes? If so, you'll enjoy this book.

And, as a bonus, D. Rus' translator's poor diction and Michael Goldstrom's reading speed means you'll catch every agonizing word of it...

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

BOOORIIINNGG

I cannot believe this was ever produced!! 4 hours in and its a mmorpg play by play with ZERO suspense and tension. OMG!! If he dies? Meh-respawn. Loot drops plus to stamina. ITS EXCRUCIATINGLY TEDIOUS. I finally pulled the plug with 8 hrs left. I DONT CARE WHAT HAPPENS!! WTF is his goal? Just to gain permanence? NOPE!!!

24 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 06-26-16

Enjoyable but lacking

This book which describes the common gamer fantasy of living within a game world is strangely compelling despite its flaws. Narrated very well by Michael Goldstrom, it suffers from a somewhat two dimensional story that could have been so much more if interactions between the game world and real life could have been expanded. In the end it is almost just a description of someone playing a game. Perhaps later books on the series will expand on the potential.

I also have to note that the casual sexism in this book is very off putting. The male lead picks up a girl who follows him around, doting on him, pleasing him in the bedroom in very teenage-male-fantasy ways and generally just acting as a subsidiary to him rather than being a fully-fledged character in her own right. Another missed opportunity.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-23-16

Going to return this

The sexism in this book is ridiculous, women are viewed as objects and it's a shame because the female lead has such an interesting background. However, I think the sexism came from the fact that this entire book is based on immature teenage boy fantasies, therefore the sexism probably wasn't meant to be offensive.

The main character is far too lucky, I cannot feel the tension in the battles. Also he was supposed to be in his early 30s but I kept thinking he's only in his late teens or early 20s. The author failed to portray his maturity and intelligence, would be better to make him younger.

There are some good aspects, the idea of being in a game world and that his pet became more "alive". The blurred line between the light and dark is a nice touch and so does the gaming experience. The first few hours are quite entertaining but soon the main character became an almost unstoppable player.

The narrator is quite good, made this book easier to listen to.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tony
  • Tony
  • 01-14-16

surprise new genre for me mmorpg...

i loved this book, very original and for someone that played warcraft for years , this really took me back. The other books are also well worth the read.
it narrated well and the action just keeps on coming. not a book for kids as there is swaring f words so buyer beware, but for adults its a ripping yarn. highly reccomend

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • tom
  • 04-27-19

Almost feels like a scam...

The story meanders from book to book with almost no sense of climax/conclusion. It feels like its been purposefully designed to waste credits by buying other instalments. Theres just no substance here.

Save yourself some credits (god help you if you paid full whack for this) and find something else.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan M.
  • 09-12-17

Not for me

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The immaturity and sexism were niggling. The over-use of unexplained acronyms was annoying. There were some poorly-thought out plot holes.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

An hour from the end, I realised I just didn't want to finish it. Usually, I will persevere, just to make sure I don't miss anything. In this case, I don't care if I did miss something; I couldn't face wasting that final hour.

Did AlterWorld inspire you to do anything?

I was inspired to return it, but it did make me a biit nostalgic for quest adventure games, so I think I might try to find a game to play.

Any additional comments?

The narrator was good, and the book wasn't really dreadful - it was just that by the end the bad bits were niggling at me enough to overwhelm any good bits.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • david
  • 02-24-17

Great RPG story!

If you're even remotely into role playing games, particularly online MMO's this story is right up your street!

It's a great adaptation of everything I love about MMORPGs in a story. Gives me my gaming fix whilst I'm driving for real world stuff!

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • J. A. N.
  • 04-01-19

The first audiobook (series) I've returned

This series has the dubious honour of being the first series I've decided to return.

This might be a solid, although fairly standard litRPG story, however, it is completely spoilt by Russian nationalism and homophobia.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Teitur Ásgeirsson
  • 01-26-19

I really enjoyed the audio book.

I really enjoyed the audio book. A new spin on magic and the way the system works.. I highly recommended the book. I hope the author is a fast writer...

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Harvey
  • Harvey
  • 08-03-18

Cringe

embarrasing story and character dynamics. It was cringeworthy to listen to.

the relationship with the love interest is unbelievable. the reader is monotone and uninteresting.

the dialogue is flat

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for steven
  • steven
  • 02-16-17

A great series opener

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Others are also tackling the game life crossover genre, but this is especially well done. If you like the subject, its sure to have your inner 'geek' purring with pleasure. I purchased the first book, got books 2+3 straight away and books 4 to 7 within a week. Just a slight caution, the first 3 books are solid work, then the care and fresh idea's slow down. Look at the book lengths ... rushing them out? Pressure from the publisher after book 3? I could see a trend there :/ That being said, do I recommend them?
Yes I do. Great fun to be had, but please Mr D. Rus, if you are the type of author that reads poorly written reviews, please take your own sweet time with your next book :)
(Not as long as Patrick Rothfuss though lol)

What did you like best about this story?


Good balance of the geek Vs story. By this I mean it caters for old school gamers and the non gamer sci-fi readership.

What does Michael Goldstrom bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Well narrated by Michael Goldstrom, Michael is no 'Rupert Degas', but who is?

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me smile a few times, from a miserable old git, that's good enough.

Any additional comments?

Additional for readers that remember the late 70's to early 90's - If you like the game immersion theme and haven't yet read 'Ready Player One', give your self a real treat :)