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Publisher's Summary

Edwin Morris has been playing Sakarn Online almost his whole life. In fact, most people have. While he considers himself a skilled player, he never could really find the time to take his game to the next level and pay the bills. After he is finally pushed over the edge with his job at Burger Planet, Edwin stumbles upon a man representing a game company called Stratus Labs.

Edwin is offered a lucrative position within the company to test and beat Stratus Online, an incredible, fully-immersive MMO designed to dethrone Sakarn Online. Edwin will have to unite with his friends and compete against other teams, but not everything is as it seems within Stratus Labs, and the stakes are much higher than he could have ever imagined.

With the clock ticking, will Edwin have what it takes to complete the seemingly insurmountable task of beating Stratus Online before it's too late?

Stratus Online: Awakening is the first book in a LitRPG series featuring awesome game mechanics, an epic high-stakes quest, and lots of legendary loot.

©2017 Drew Jacob Cordell (P)2018 Drew Jacob Cordell

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

Sometimes the prize isn't what you expect

Stratus Online is a good break-in novel for people new to LITRPG game novels. It has the traditional set up, entry into the game, a quest to complete, and the normal catastrophic consequences that appear once you are in game. It is perfect for the noobie reader because it is not overwhelming in game stats or games speech, and when gaming terminology is used it is quickly explained. Additionally, this is not a book in which the party just travels around leveling up by grinding. I think the highest level they reach by the end of the book is level five. No, there is a long-term goal that the team is trying to reach, and so there is not a lot of time spent grinding. Another reason I think this book is ideal for newer LIT readers is that the party is feeling their way into the game, they aren't given manuals to study before entering, nor is there a wiki they can run too whenever they have a question. The party learns as they go, and so does the reader.

There are a few small flaws, but nothing major. The first for me is that it takes a long time to actually go into the game. I'm not sure, but I think it was somewhere around the two hour mark before the team makes their way in to actualy play. Granted, alot of that which came before was set up, and it does show you that the MC is not an idiot as he does things in a logical manner, such as having a lawyer look over his work contract, but I have to say that a lot of that is something that another writer would have glossed over in about two paragraphs. Still, it helped you get to know the characters, and show you that they actually use their heads. The other thing was that the narrator, Turbett constantly pronounce the word attribute as Ah-trib-ute. As in when some one might ask, "what do you attribute to the team's failure?" Instead, for gaming stats he should have said it as At-trib-bute. As in, "Strength is his greatest attribute." It really is a minor thing, but I have to point these things out if I am going to be honest.

The story itself really pops once you get into the game, and it was nice to not see the party hunting 35 rats to gain Exp. Points. It is more like a story with LIT elements than is is a LIT story laden with burdonsome stats. The team itself is fun, and Edwin is a likable character. The story itself is filled with several twists and turns, and ends up having a Matrix feel towards the end. The end game revolves around the gaming gods fighting back evil Titans. They end up backing . . . .well, I won't spoil it for you, but no matter which side they pick they are going to be on the opposite side of some other gamers. One or two just happen to be out for their blood. As beginning books go the series looks to be a worthwhile investment, considering the flippy trippy twist that came at the end. I have to admit that I havenot seen that one in a LITRPG setting before, so it was fun to get a new twist and turn right at the end. It does end on a cliffhanger of sorts, so if you don't want a book that feels like it could be one and done then forget it, because this series sets up a long game, and is not even partially competed when it ends. There are a lot of loose ends that are yet to be wrapped up. So expect a lot more to come, and if the series progresses like the first book did it will get better the further it goes along.

Turbett's narration, aside from the attribute issue, is great. He provides voices for each character, and really gives the evil PC a snotty huaghty tone that just oozes disdain and malevolence for everyone around him. He certainly has some fun with the nonhuman voices, I've listened to him narrate a few other books, and he has never let me or a tale down yet.

If you are looking for a new LIT series, or are new to the genre, then this is an excellent place to start. Like I said, this is not a grind away for 10 chapters kind of book, it sticks to important things, although there are a few points that the stats are run through as you might expect. The book does take some time to build, but the ending has a good turn that will make you wan to come back for the next book.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. In fact, getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really Good

This is actually a really good book. It involves a group of younger adults getting together to play and be immersed in a game. I have been skeptical of RPG books in the past but this one is interesting with a good plot and a lot of action. It sort of reminds me a lot if Tron with the game immersion. I wonder if this may be the future with VR. Hopefully, there will be more books in this series. The narration was very well done and I enjoyed listening to him.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

If you love video games you'll love this book.

As an avid video gamer I can honestly say I really enjoyed this book. The author, and maybe the narrator, understands video game mechanics as well which only helps to flesh out the book. The narrator's voice also helps this book as well, we're not listening to the adventures of a beefy, brawny guy who flexes his muscles to save the day, we're listening to the story of a down on his luck 20-something guy who gets caught up in more than he bargained for. Like most books that begin a series there's a twist at the end that will catch a reader's interest, and this one doesn't disappoint. Won't spoil it 'cause I want other people to buy this book and enjoy it. Last thing I can say is that this book is a good way to introduce yourselves to the litRPG subgenre of books.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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

New to the genre

Wasn't expecting anything mind blowing book was fun. The author still has a lot to learn the beginning of th ebook start off strong but sort of lost its stride as it headed in to the finale

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An interesting concept that fell flat

This will contain smallish spoilers but I'll try to be as vague as possible...

This book wasn't awful but it was mediocre at best.

To start, the narrator wasn't bad but he just didn't really bring the characters to live. It felt like he was mostly reading from a list in a semi-excited voice. There was no personality.


A lot of the dialogue, especially between characters, felt weird. It's just not how people naturally talk to each other. There was a conversation with the MC and his brother that was supposed to be congratulatory but honestly felt like two strangers trying to be friendly and going though a check list of nice things to say. It still bugs me.

As for the game....meh. It's not that great.

They get dropped on the side of the road with no skills, no equipment, no idea of what to do at all. They literally go the entire book and defeat the villian before someone actually gets a class. It's really boring. It's litRPG but you have people in a game with no class, no skills, no idea how to get a class or skills, etc. Hell, they're afraid to even spend any skill points because they don't know what they're needed for.

Plus they find this really strong NPC that basically does everything important for them.

The most annoying part is that the book seems to be written in a manner that wants to focus more on the real world stuff that in game.

Literally -drop in a world, jog to a city, meet a powerful npc, talk to a quest guy, buy some gear- and that's 12 hours of game time. There is no sense of time in the game but a couple of hours of activities in game takes 12 hours IRL and they're forced to log out.

This is a persistent theme and it feels like there is no progress in game because they're never in it for long enough to do anything. There was basically as much time with them plotting what they want to do in game, between sessions, even though they have no idea how to play the game because there were no hints, tool tips, guide, etc.

There is more about the villain and a weird twist that are both odd and not very well explained but that delves too far into spoiler territory.

Finally, I do want to touch on the action. There are literally two battles for the MC in this game (not counting the test). And the 2nd one is super random and stupid. They're traveling somewhere and as they arrive they're suddenly randomly attacked by a few dozen bandits who just happen to be camped out in the middle of nowhere next to where they're going, in full view of the main bad guy who apparently sees the whole battle but doesn't join in until the end because reasons.

After writing this I think maybe I gave it one star too many.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

eehhhh

This has a great story, but the main character is so whiny and annoying it overrides it. He gives up multiple times, cries, and can't seem to adapt without a gun to his head.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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

Horrible Narrator

Narrator seems incapable of pronouncing Ds and Ts didn't becomes "dih int", button = "buh un". I'm going to try and struggle through it. So far a wasted credit. As an English speaker, I would be better off with print version.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful