- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 3 hours and 5 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Dawn Chapman
- Audible.com Release Date: January 10, 2018
- Language: English
- ASIN: B078WF9P3P
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Desert Runner: Puatera Online, Book 1 Audiobook – Unabridged
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I'll be honest. I've never read a LIT RPG story before this one, so I have nothing to compare it to other than the other SciFi stories I've grown up on. I didn't even know the genre existed, but I'm so glad it does.
Dawn Chapman delivers an action packed story that gives you the feel of a gaming experience or a fan-fiction about your favorite gaming character without shortchanging you on character development or offering you a hollow story. Desert Runner has depth and subtleties that will make you want to run out and read book 2.
Desert Runner is an NPC story. An NPC (I did know this term from my own gaming experience, limited as it may be) is a non-player character that players can interact with. Maddie is the NPC and the main character. It's a great twist and what gave it the fanfic feel for me. Here's this great bad-ass character with a kick-ass vehicle that you can bum a ride from. And, oh, by the way, she has her own outrageous missions too.
Maddie takes on a quest that no other runner will take, pick up a package and cross the desert during Tromoal breeding season. When the Tromoals are most likely to eat you. Of course.
Did I mention she's handicapped by a previous fight and dependent on pain relievers? That she's programmed to fall in love with any regular player she meets, and hates it? And that another NPC wants her to marry him?
Maddie has her hands full with the mission, but with everything else she might just be over-committed. That's a feeling I identify with. The challenges thrown at her would make another hero flinch and maybe even give up. Not Maddie. She just powers on.
When she finds out what her package is, and that Tromoal breeding season will be much more challenging than usual, she doesn't turn back. She fights back.
Maddie has a lot to learn about herself, and she will. Jump in and find out for yourself. But be prepared to buy book 2.
The book is full of all the great things a science fiction classic is made of, thrills spills, lovable characters, twist, turns and in my personal opinion a ending that will blow you away. This reader begs you to write the next two books i need my Chapman fix!
Indeed, while the book doesn't go into it, I believe Maggie is actually designed to be a love interest for player characters to fall for in the same way Westworld's Doroles is meant to be. It's something which bothers Maggie a great deal but she has as an essential part of her personality. She falls in love easily and, invariably, the men (and probably women) she meets go off to do their own thing as they pass through the game.
DESERT RUNNER follows Maggie as she goes on a desperate mission into the badlands, picking up one of the "visitors" along the way and dealing with the fact she's falling in love with this one as well. This is bad because she's already engaged to a fellow NPC (and may have been programmed to be stuck in a perpetual holding pattern of mediocre romance).
There's a bit of confusion from the book on just how "real" things are. The people here react with horror and sadness to the deaths of those around them but re-spawning is mentioned. I also felt the story ended prematurely and wish this book had been all three of the ones Dawn Chapman wrote for this story and sold as novellas. This is only 100 pages long and a very short read but also appropriately priced (1 dollar).
Is it worth reading? Oh, I definitely think so. I should mention this is advertised as Lit-RPG but has less focus on looting and leveling up than feelings--which is a good thing in my opinion.
Maddie lives in a pre-programmed world where she needs to complete quests to get the means to survive. But she knows what she is and fights against it. She is one of the elite of her kind as she has Hog - a vehicle that can outrun any horse, so she gets the best quests.
Maddie is really desperate when she is offered a run across the desert at the worst time of year. But when she finds it involves a visitor (those who call the locals NPCs) she is suddenly not so keen.
'That’s when my life changed forever. I’d tried to retreat but couldn’t. Then all I could do was defend myself, but I couldn’t.'
This is a very tightly written novella. The characters are well fleshed out and the story line is taut. The world building is a bit confusing at times and I think if anyone was not a gamer of some sort they would be rather lost at points. The story flows well and kept me reading all the way through in one sitting.
There were a few things that had me flummoxed. For example, we are told Maddie is highly sought after for doing quests, yet somehow she is also desperate enough to take any one offered even though she really does not want to. She is broke but somehow has enough to equip herself for the quest. Little things like this nagged at me but might not trouble anyone else.
I enjoyed the book and if you like the concept of a story about a character in a game world, this is a really good one.