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Publisher's Summary

The never-ending wars, pollution, and overpopulation of the near future have caused the outdoors to become uninhabitable, and the government is forced to create a new world, a virtual existence that allows civilization to continue. Shopping malls, schools, concert venues, and religious gathering places all exist in the infinite confines of this new reality, yet the most popular domain for most teenagers is the one that houses the endless array of digital games.

When the sequel to a popular title is released to the public for a special beta test, a group of players eagerly log in to try out the new experience. What seems like harmless violence quickly turns all too consequential when the players realize the game's biggest error: They can't log out. Forced to battle their way through an endless army of monsters programmed to kill their avatars, the players must fight against the clock and find a way out of the game before the real world catches up to them.

©2011 Jaron Lee Knuth (P)2017 Jaron Lee Knuth

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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

Different

What made the experience of listening to Level Zero the most enjoyable?

This is a lot different from a lot of LitRPG stories. Your hero isn't here to be one and he's good with that.

What other book might you compare Level Zero to and why?

The premise is different from the mainstream of the genre so it'd be hard to directly compare.

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

John does a pretty solid job with personifying the characters, I wasn't left wondering who'd said that.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Jaron did a great job with the characterizations, just because I didn't LIKE some of them as people doesn't mean he didn't do his job!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

Gap filler for those waiting for other series.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Off the back read the chapters as normal numbers vice reading the binary each time. It jars you out of the story flow to hear a string of 1's and 0's.

What could Jaron Lee Knuth have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The begin drags a bit before getting to the setup. It could have used a little more player interact with other parties.

What three words best describe John Pirhalla’s performance?

Only polish so much

Was Level Zero: A LitRPG Adventure worth the listening time?

passes the time

Any additional comments?

Not a lot of RPG elements. This could have easily been trapped in a first person shooter.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

something a little bit different

“Level Zero” is a coming of age Literary Role Playing Game (LitRPG) story which is the first book in the NextWorld series.  The book is written by Jaron Lee Knuth and the audiobook is very well narrated by John Pirhalla.  The author has quite a few books under his belt, however this one appears to be the only book currently available, at the time of this review, in audiobook format.  I assume the author and narrator will be bringing the second book in the series (Spawn) to audio in the future.  If you enjoy young adult (YA) coming of age stories that have science fiction and gaming elements with an interesting Blade Runner look and feel, I believe you will like Level Zero.  Even though the book is the first in a series, I felt the story concluded quite well for the first in a series with the author giving us a view into what to expect in future books.  That is to say, this book could be read as a stand-alone novel without any cliff hangers or other aspects requiring you to read the other books in the series; but I would be surprised if you did not want too.  When binary numbers are used for the chapter titles, you know you are in for some computer gaming fun.

The main character is a fifteen-year-old who lost one of his parents and is estranged from the other; who is a highly politically involved individual.  Our main character has a single friend in the world and they both enjoy putting all their time in to playing virtual reality games for escape.  Although it sounds similar to all the other dystopian coming of age books in the genre, the author is able to set his story apart by creating a rather unique and different world from the others.  In this story, the world outside of their living space is crumbling and becoming toxic.  However, the space outside is filled with cable and wires providing feeds for the ever-present virtual world; think of it as the Internet times ten.  A person is given a small physical living space for storage, sleeping and eating.  Each room also comes with a pod allowing a person to jack into the virtual world.  Food, Vitapaste, is provided in a protein paste format used to sustain everyone; yummy.  It is a rather grim and dirty world, and that is why so many want to escape to the ever-growing virtual world.

Everything from meeting up with your friends, education, work, and even religion occurs in the virtual world.  The pods are programmed to terminate your virtual connection when food or sleep are required as a safety precaution.  The world has a very socialistic feel with the government running, providing and overseeing nearly everything.  When a new beta world is available to only a select few, our characters jump at being given the opportunity to join.  Once in the new game, things go from bad to worse as they become trapped with their only escape being to win the game.  This newly created world is exactly what one would expect from your standard fantasy RPG.  There are warriors, rogues, magic users, etc.  Everyone needs to also trust and depend on the others in their party to survive.  However, the author did a good job of crafting some new and unique weapons and upgrade options.  It helped give the book a different angle than so many others in the genre.  Think fantasy world blended with a few of the amenities of the modern world.

Let me turn to the book’s characters.  I felt the characters were overall well rounded and had good interaction with one another.  I would have liked to have had some additional background on a few of the characters joining the party to help me better understand their actions.  Each of the major characters had some issues that needed to be resolved as well as trust needing to be built for the party to succeed at their task.  What complicates things even more is that the new beta program locks our unsuspected group in the virtual world where they will starve if they are unable to escape.  The security protocols have all been compromised and our characters must win or parish due to starvation.  This is where the main arc of the story picks up as they try all they can to escape the program and save their lives.  The book focuses mainly on friendships with light romantic elements included.  If I could change one thing, it would be the continued use of the word “Yo” by one of the party characters.

The books narration was done very well and I enjoy John Pirhalla voice.  I have listened to a few other books by this narrator including the Origin of F.O.R.C.E. series by Sam B. Miller II which I enjoyed quite a bit.  His voice is mellow and pleasant to listen too, yet he is able to also keep things exciting during scenes of intense action.  John was able to bring life and distinction to each of the main characters by giving them unique personalities and accents.  He even included a few audio extras that make the book come alive in audio format.  I do not recall any issues with the audio itself, only a professionally produced audiobook.

I have to give the author credit as I do not remember any use of vulgar language in the book, nor any over sexualized sections.  The book’s is designed to be read by younger audiences except from a few rather graphic scenes of violence.  The book also does not fully address the tension between parent and child, as with most Disney stories, but I was happy to see that this book can be read by younger audiences; who I think will enjoy it quite a bit.

In summary, if you like book in the LitRPG genre and you are wanting something a little bit different or unique, I would recommend you pick up Level Zero and give it a try.  Most books in this genre often contain vulgar language or adult subject matter, where this book does not.  It is a fun, interesting, yet rather dark view into the future of virtual reality.   And remember, make sure to brush your teeth after eat your Vitapaste before going to bed tonight!

Audiobook was 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!]

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • AJ
  • Kentwood, MI, United States
  • 03-15-18

Couldn't finish.

Phantom's overuse of slang was highly irritating and I just dropped the book after she returned. It's an unnecessary world building detail to add "yo" to the end of any sentence and to do it for every other one. Maybe for a minor character that you see once or twice, but not what appears to be a major player.

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

much better than I thought

ok, in the beginning I really didn't think I would like this book, as I have never been a fan of shooter type games.

with that being said, I honestly enjoyed the book. I thought it was well written and narrated well. I didn't realize that I would really enjoy this book as much as I did, but I was hooked about 5 chapters in

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

LitRPG with a Brain - Nice Twist on the Genre

Where does Level Zero rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is a smart, beautifully described world set in the not too distant future. It's not all RPG mania. There is something much more deep and intelligent about this book. Don't get me wrong...pure RPGers will enjoy the action, but the more astute listener will clearly understand that the book is about technology warping what it mean to be human. The descriptions of the city, it's politics and culture reminded me of a mix between the movie Brazil and the book 1984. The plot is unique and the story moves at a fast pace. The narrator was outstanding. Creating voices for characters that are basically avatars had to be challenging. One character's voice purposely changes dramatically midway through from a youth to an adult. No spoilers here. I really enjoyed this book. Hope book 2 is just as good.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

Wow the MC is annoying

I understand the MC is only 15, but he is the worst protagonist I have ever followed.

He is completely self centered, and immature. He has the maturity level of a five year old who only knows one thing, instant personal gratification.

His friend Xin is unrealistic. I know he is suppose to counter arcade but he too unnatural.

I have lost all interest.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good but I can't find the second book in the series

This book was awesome but I can't find the second book in the series.could someone please tell me in their review thanks.😉😉😉😉😺😺😺😺😀😀😀😀

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

great book, decent performance

now don't get me wrong,the performance was pretty damn good but something about it just irked me. I'm not sure if it was the voices used or the way it was inflected, but something got me.
the story is well written and goes into an audio version quiet nicely. I'll have to check out the other two books as soon as possible.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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

Predictable, but in unpredictable ways.

I loved this book. It started slow, but thats kinda expected for book 1 of a series. It also felt a bit rushed in the end. I remember multiple occasions I was able to predict something, but I didn't know exactly what, and was pleasantly surprised by the unpredictableness of the predictions.


Little spoilers here, but for an example of the previous sentence. Theres a love interest that ends up being important to the plot, and I easily guessed that when the 2 characters met, but the way everything played out was completely unexpected!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful