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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.

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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Story

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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.<br/><br/>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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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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.


53 of 61 people found this review helpful

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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. <br/><br/>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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • OPELIKA, AL, United States
  • 11-20-15

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.

82 of 99 people found this review helpful

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Didn't live up to the reviews

It's a very slow walk through of a dull player playing a dull game. It's a very drawn out step by step guide of an unbelievable character just plying a fantasy role play game. It doesn't even feel like a book. No story, no plot line, you are just reading about someone else playing a very dull role playing game online. Total disappointment.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Loved Ready Player One or Snowcrash? Skip This!

Full disclosure: I have not finished (slogged through) the entire book yet, but I think I can give a pretty heartfelt review at this point.
The concept of the book seemed interesting: The idea that you can BECOME a part of a MMPORPG for real and forever, leaving your corporeal body behind. But it rapidly became obvious that this author has some issues.
This is like some uber-gaming nerd's wet dream. Every woman is lithesome and willing. Max levels up with amazing rapidity. Every other player is awed by him or jealous or immediately his bestie. Only he could possibly have thought of this non-traditional character designation.
Getting back to the women, they are alternately: weepy, grateful when he picks them a flower, require rescuing, sex crazed and/or &quot;such a girl/child.&quot; I've yet to hear him run across a warrior woman - and I'm not holding my breath.
Listening to Max detail how he grinds through leveling up is interesting at first, but becomes tedious rapidly. And the number of times he has spectacular luck in battle is beyond believable. For example, he happens upon a battle between another player and red bear. In the course of things, somehow the other player gets killed, JUST BEFORE the bear dies, meaning lowly Max gets credit for the bear kill, gets all the dropped treasures. One of them is a Soul Stone which he incarnates as a zombie and, voila!, has a ridiculously-leveled bear to do all his fighting and therefore his levelling. Max then sits on his butt while the bear does all the work (I even bored myself writing that explanation).
I have never played Everquest, but my sources say the game in this story is remarkably similar.
Additionally, I understand this is a Russian author, but there are some weird word usages - possibly translation errors, but weird.
I'd say, give this a pass. I won't be wasting time on the sequels.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • D
  • corona, ca United States
  • 12-01-15

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 of 64 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick
  • Kennesaw, GA, United States
  • 06-07-16

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

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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I wanted a book not a cigarette ad...

I'm not usually someone who complains about a book being too racist or sexist but this is absolutely insane... offhand comments about Jews and muslims that don't make sense in the context of the story at all. The last 4 hours are basically a cigarette ad. Also the way the author talks about women is incredibly sexist. They exist only to please the main character.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • 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 of 3 people found this review 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 of 8 people found this review helpful

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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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.

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  • 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? <br/>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 :)<br/>(Not as long as Patrick Rothfuss though lol)

What did you like best about this story?

<br/>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 :)

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  • 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.

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  • Sanu Sath
  • 08-28-16

Great story

I want expecting much, after a slow start I really got into it. Great book if you are an mmo fan or just like this genre