AlterWorld

Play to Live, Book 1
By: D. Rus
Narrated by: Michael Goldstrom
Series: Play to Live, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,699 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In Cart

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.

More from the same

What members say
Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,144
  • 4 Stars
    923
  • 3 Stars
    376
  • 2 Stars
    149
  • 1 Stars
    107
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,221
  • 4 Stars
    878
  • 3 Stars
    282
  • 2 Stars
    60
  • 1 Stars
    33
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,017
  • 4 Stars
    796
  • 3 Stars
    366
  • 2 Stars
    154
  • 1 Stars
    141

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Plotless

Mindless RPG isekai with no direction. Bored out of my mind. This might have been a new thing back in 2014 but doesn't hold up today.

5 people found this helpful

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

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

89 people found this helpful

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

Fanfic

This felt like a fanfic, serialized into many parts for best monetary advantage. I was uncomfortable with the cigarette and torture sections. I wasn't all that convinced over the way perma-mode seems to keep going while the servers are down. All in all, mediocre.

3 people found this helpful

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

Sci-fi VR Story

Who wants to read every single step about playing a frigging video game? Way too much detail!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Al
  • 06-09-16

Quest Failed! Did not find a story in AlterWorld!

What did you like best about AlterWorld? What did you like least?

Best - the potential of this world. The narrator.
Worst - absolutely no story to bind it all together. Complete mishmash of unrelated random quests and battles. If you like watching other people play video games you may enjoy this. I sometimes do, but I didn't this time. If you want a story you may not. Even the living characters felt like they were video game characters, which is somehow ironic.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Not this series...

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

A superb storyteller, he more than once prevented me from moving to my next book.

Do you think AlterWorld needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

For more random unrelated quests? No.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

No challenge for main character

This is pretty much a guy telling you a perfect dream of his. The main character lucks into dozens of unique and powerful buffs for lack of better word. He also always has a perfect solution for things or thinks of bypass/hacks that evidently no one in the ~23 million previous players thought of... It's an easy listen but the sheer lack of struggle makes this terrible. Also there's no real plot, just escape reality (done in first few hours) then play the game

15 people found this helpful

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

An interesting tale but not for everyone

First, this is an interesting fantasy. It reminds me a bit of the Matrix (movie), the Otherland series by Tad Williams (books), and Ready Player One (book and soon to be movie). It's that crossing of virtual and real worlds that many readers find interesting.

I mostly enjoyed this, though there are a couple of caveats and "heads up" you might want to consider before putting this title in your shopping cart.

<> There is a great deal of game jargon and acronyms. Some of that is explained but not all by a long shot. Unless you have a background in playing online games (as many people do these days, I guess) then you may well find yourself a bit confused.

<> The author appears not to be native English speaker. While his command of English is actually pretty impressive, there are a few slang terms and idioms that are... well, just off. An editor could have fixed this but this book may not have been through that process. In any case, if that kind of "issue" irks you, you may want to stay away from this title.

<> The main character is Russian. That's no problem for me. In fact, I found it intriguing. But if you're expecting a main character of a "certain" nationality, it's good to know this up front.

All of that is, at least for me, just falls into the caveat category of "make sure this title is for you." On the other hand, I found the main character's malleable moral stance annoying. He portrays himself as taking the moral high ground, and indeed does sometimes manage to do so, but over and over again gives into greed and clearly has issues with revenge. Given that this takes place in a "reward based" MMPORG, greed and revenge seem like they're predictable components. But personally, I found the discontinuity of what the main character saw in himself, and the actual choices he made more than a little off putting.

All of that said, I did listen to all four books in this series. It was entertaining in the same way as watching over someone's shoulder as they play a video game can be entertaining. I wouldn't want to do it all the time but its novelty didn't wear off. I ended up enjoying listening to most of this series so far.

If you're a gamer, and enjoyed it, then there's a good chance you'll get a bit of a kick out of this series.

3 people found this helpful

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

Sophomoric

What would have made AlterWorld better?

The writing style was immature. The author frequently introduces scenes with over the top characterizations hinting that the fight is unwinnable which the character proceeds to mundanely win anyways. The book feels like a male fantasy scribbling.

It also ends in the middle of the story with little if anything resolved.

Has AlterWorld turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. This book feels poorly planned and executed, which probably reflects the writer rather than the type of book.

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

The reader is competent and expressive. He has to work with the writer's exaggerated narrative, though.

21 people found this helpful

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

Great idea, poor execution

Any additional comments?

I enjoy the litRPG genre, and Rus has some great ideas, but he does not have the writing skill to properly execute his vision.

Players permanently stuck in the game (usually by choice) can influence the state of the game, and the possibilities of that influence are endless. His depiction of the game is a dream MMORPG where the players have control over the world.

However, the potential is heavily overshadowed by repetitive phrases ("my inner greedy pig..."), antisemitism (small, but it comes out of nowhere and makes no sense), and sexism. There is a female love interest, but I hesitate to even call her a character. He vainly attempts to give her a backstory, but ignores it for most of the book. She has no personality and barely any dialogue; her only purpose is to have sex with the main character.

The book reads more as a collection of events/moments rather than a cohesive plot. There is a vague idea of the direction of the story, which is quite interesting, but he barely moves that plot along and instead gets lost in wish-fulfillment moments and sub-plots.

The story lacks one of the most important, core elements of a fantasy novel: worldbuilding. I am interested in the lore and setting of the virtual world, but other than saying it is large, he does not describe the place. I have no idea what the world looks like, if there are multiple continents, or where the dark lands are.

From a game perspective, he does not say how many races or classes there are, so his character choice does not have the impact he wants. There is supposedly a war between light and dark factions, but at times it is not even clear if the dark side includes player characters. He chooses a dark class with a light side race, but could he have chosen the same class for the dark side? In my experience with MMOs, his description of being the only player to create a character the way he did, to be truly unique, is unrealistic and difficult to believe.

I finished this book because I was intrigued by the potential, but I will not be continuing the series. It's unlikely that his serious writing flaws will improve as the story continues.

6 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for tom
  • 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
Profile Image for Susan M.
  • 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
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for david
  • 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

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John
  • 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

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • 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
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J. A. N.
  • 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
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Teitur Ásgeirsson
  • 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
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for despie
  • despie
  • 01-29-17

Great book

It's been a while since I found an other who can write great fantasy, this author is up there with R A Salvatore and the other greats.