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Forever Fantasy Online

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IT'S NOT A GAME ANYMORE... In the real world, twenty-one-year-old library sciences student Tina Anderson is invisible and under-appreciated, but in the VR-game Forever Fantasy Online she's Roxxy—the respected leader and main tank of a top-tier raiding guild. Her brother, James Anderson, is a college drop-out struggling under debt, but in FFO he's famous—an explorer known IT'S NOT A GAME ANYMORE... In the real world, twenty-one-year-old library sciences student Tina Anderson is invisible and under-appreciated, but in the VR-game Forever Fantasy Online she's Roxxy—the respected leader and main tank of a top-tier raiding guild. Her brother, James Anderson, is a college drop-out struggling under debt, but in FFO he's famous—an explorer known all over the world for doing every quest and collecting the rarest items. Both Tina and James need the game more than they'd like to admit, but their favorite escape turns into a trap when FFO becomes real. Suddenly, wounds aren’t virtual, the stupid monsters have turned cunning, NPCs start acting like actual people, and death might be forever. In the real world, everyone said being good at video games was a waste of time. Now, separated across a much larger and more deadly world, their skill at FFO is the only thing keeping them alive. It’s going to take every bit of their expertise (and hoarded loot) to find each other and get back home, but as the harshness of their new reality sets in, Tina and James soon realize that being the best in the game might no longer be good enough.


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IT'S NOT A GAME ANYMORE... In the real world, twenty-one-year-old library sciences student Tina Anderson is invisible and under-appreciated, but in the VR-game Forever Fantasy Online she's Roxxy—the respected leader and main tank of a top-tier raiding guild. Her brother, James Anderson, is a college drop-out struggling under debt, but in FFO he's famous—an explorer known IT'S NOT A GAME ANYMORE... In the real world, twenty-one-year-old library sciences student Tina Anderson is invisible and under-appreciated, but in the VR-game Forever Fantasy Online she's Roxxy—the respected leader and main tank of a top-tier raiding guild. Her brother, James Anderson, is a college drop-out struggling under debt, but in FFO he's famous—an explorer known all over the world for doing every quest and collecting the rarest items. Both Tina and James need the game more than they'd like to admit, but their favorite escape turns into a trap when FFO becomes real. Suddenly, wounds aren’t virtual, the stupid monsters have turned cunning, NPCs start acting like actual people, and death might be forever. In the real world, everyone said being good at video games was a waste of time. Now, separated across a much larger and more deadly world, their skill at FFO is the only thing keeping them alive. It’s going to take every bit of their expertise (and hoarded loot) to find each other and get back home, but as the harshness of their new reality sets in, Tina and James soon realize that being the best in the game might no longer be good enough.

30 review for Forever Fantasy Online

  1. 4 out of 5

    TS Chan

    I received an advanced reading copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review. Excellent characters, an engaging story and geek humour. What more can one ask for? Forever Fantasy Online is one of my first LitRPG novels, but thanks to the powerhouse couple of Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach, it will not be my last. I will start by talking just a bit about my experience with RPGs as this will provide some context for my review. While I had been quite a geek during my younger days, my RPG days I received an advanced reading copy from the authors in exchange for an honest review. Excellent characters, an engaging story and geek humour. What more can one ask for? Forever Fantasy Online is one of my first LitRPG novels, but thanks to the powerhouse couple of Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach, it will not be my last. I will start by talking just a bit about my experience with RPGs as this will provide some context for my review. While I had been quite a geek during my younger days, my RPG days (via books and PC) ended over two decades ago, and I did not have any exposure to multi-player online RPGs. Neither have I been in the anime scene to appreciate the inspiration of this trilogy, which is a hugely popular anime series called Sword Art Online. Notwithstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed reading FFO as Aaron/Bach have crafted an engaging story with excellent character development. It is also a pretty fast-paced narrative which hit the ground running right from the very first chapter where our main protagonists, Tina and James, are already logged on to the virtual reality world of FFO when the environment suddenly became real. The story alternated between the two siblings' POVs as they both struggle with the brutal reality of survival with no inventory, no interface and hostile non-player characters who are no longer constrained by the rules of the game. On top of that, of course, they can feel pain, get hurt and have a high chance of dying for real. With the MMORPG backdrop, one can expect a lot of action scenes which befit usual gameplay, and FFO does this very well. Tina aka Roxxy, a stonekin knight, is the leader of a group of players making up the roles of tanks, healers and damage dealers. The battle scenes are written so vividly that even for one with not much knowledge of MMORPG, it did not take long to understand the roles of the different character classes and how they fit into a raid fight against a boss. Don't worry though if you have even less knowledge of all these RPG terms and think that HP stands for Harry Potter or perhaps that brown sauce from the UK; the book also contains a glossary of terms to assist the uninitiated. All that aside, great action scenes and nerdy stuff can only carry a story so far. It needs good characterisation. Rachel Aaron has demonstrated consistent proficiency in this area with her Eli Monpress and Heartstrikers series, both favourites of mine. Now it seems that the Aaron/Bach team has carried on with the tradition of putting forth likeable individuals with distinct personalities and personal demons into a roiling cauldron of almost impossible circumstances, thereby shaping character growth most compellingly. My personal favourite is James because his arc carries more emotional resonance as compared to Tina's. There are also loads of great supporting characters who helped framed our main protagonists' development throughout their respective storylines. Aaron/Bach's writing style is efficient and unembellished. This is a quality which I have always appreciated as it does not distract; making it easy to get immersed in the story. In short, if you are looking for a riveting and fast-paced read that also has a good dose of geek humour to boot, I recommend picking this title up. You can purchase a copy of the book from Amazon You can also find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Esme

    I have been a fan of the Heartstriker series for a while and I also happen to love LitRPG, so when I heard that Rachel Aaron was co-writing a new LitRPG book I was stoked! Then I heard that it was going to be a “stuck in a video game” storyline and I immediately became nervous. Of all the plotlines in LitRPG “stuck in a video game” is my least favorite by a wide margin. I considered myself totally burned out on them, and I was very concerned that although I’m a fan of Aaron’s, I still wouldn’t I have been a fan of the Heartstriker series for a while and I also happen to love LitRPG, so when I heard that Rachel Aaron was co-writing a new LitRPG book I was stoked! Then I heard that it was going to be a “stuck in a video game” storyline and I immediately became nervous. Of all the plotlines in LitRPG “stuck in a video game” is my least favorite by a wide margin. I considered myself totally burned out on them, and I was very concerned that although I’m a fan of Aaron’s, I still wouldn’t enjoy this book. YAY for being wrong! I listened to the audiobook, and although it wasn’t voiced by Vikas Adams, it was pretty good. I had to speed it up though, I usually listen at 1.5x but I was at 2x for this one. The book does start out by feeling stereotypical and I was so worried, but it started to diverge from other litrpgs at around 15%, (in respects to how the characters dealt with their situation, and in some of the world-building). There are two main characters, a brother and sister named James and Tina. We get to see two totally different scenarios where players have been trapped inside a video game turned reality. When the game goes haywire the brother and sister are in different locations. Tina was on her way to a raid when it happened and she’s with a large group of people auditioning for her guild. All around her people started dropping to the ground writhing in pain and unable to cope with an overload of sensory input. All at once, every player in the game lost contact with their sign out screens, their inventory, their entire interface for the game was wiped out and things “got real”. The geography and structures in the world expand, what used to take 4 hours to cross the entire map will now take days or weeks. Tiny yurts with nothing in them have expanded into family-sized dwellings fully decked out with furniture and living supplies, while castles have gone from big to enormous. The game essentially went from being a caricature of a fantasy world into a full-blown reality. Tina is stuck between a rock and hard place, she’s trying to get a giant group of people up and moving away from the boss fight – but they are so bewildered and half of them don’t believe what’s going on or understand the true dire circumstances they’ve gotten themselves into. The demons and skeletons and every other baddy in the game have now turned sentient. They don’t just meander around waiting for you to go up to them to start a fight, they aren’t stupid, using the same predictable moves over and over again either. There are also no more respawns, no more unlimited consumable items, and casting takes much more mana than it did before – everything has become harder. Tina’s mission is to get everyone to safety, but to do that they have to cross days worth of wilderness full of things that want to kill them. James finds himself in a very different situation when the change hit, he was out in the middle of nowhere in a small village of cat people all by himself. What he realizes very quickly is that every NPC in the game hates the Players. Unbeknownst to the Players, the NPC’s have been fully cogent during what they refer to as “The Nightmare”, where they were forced to re-live the same days, the same torments, the same deaths every single day. They knew the whole time that they were being controlled by an outside force, and they completely aware of what was happening when they were killed by fire, skinned alive, possessed by demons etc. The cat people want James and every other Player dead, they want revenge, and James is now surrounded by them. He has to earn their trust by helping them deal with an onslaught of problems. He tries explaining to them what a video game actually is, where he’s actually from, and why he knows so much more about their world than they do. He’s already completed the quests in their area, and those quests are now running wild without players to “solve the problems” of the villagers. Certain areas where people used to level up are now swarmed because every “quest” happening at once. What I really loved about this is how much struggle the two MC’s go through when trying to adjust to the fact that they’re in a video game. I just read another LitRPG ‘stuck in a video game’ book and the MC was like “ok, I guess I’m in a video game now”. There was no struggle with the improbability of their situation, there was no thought of home, it left the character feeling very flat. In this book though, everyone is reeling from what happened, there’s a lot of character development and it makes this book stand out from the rest. I read a 3-star review saying the characters didn’t grow much, and that’s true – but this book also takes place over several days. I’d honestly say it’d be less realistic if the characters had some kind of massive growth and change in their personalities over that short of time period. The cahracters I felt did have much more depth than is typically delivered in this genre – there was a lot of development and foundations for them to grow in later books. The struggle wasn’t just emotional, either. They had to adjust to all of these new bodies, James is now a cat person and he finds himself completely fluent in their language, despite not knowing it before. Tina’s character is a giant rock person, so when she first is dealing with her new body she’s falling over herself, grasping things too hard, and found it difficult just to move around. There are very interesting implications about fundamental changes each race has as far as persona/sexuality. A side character points out that he’s no longer attracted to humanoid female forms and really loves fish people now – as his character is a fish person. There’s a lot of thought that went into how very different a video game and a reality would be, and how hard it would be to adjust if you truly “became your character”. I did not like Tina at all when I first started reading, it’s not that she wasn’t developed, she just rubbed me in all the wrong ways. She’s quick to anger, she’s not afraid of using force to get her way, she’s known for being bossy and she’s pretty relentless with her bitterness towards her brother. It’s clear she’s a type A, pull yourself up and work hard kind of person with little to no patience for those who don’t fall into line with her thinking. As I got to know her through the rest of the book I softened a bit to her, I wasn’t irritated reading her chapters after about the halfway point – but James is my man. James is an easy going but kind of ‘lost’ person, he feels down about himself and considers himself a failure. He doesn’t get much support anymore from his family and feels like he’s not going anywhere in life. He tries his best to help the cat people despite their hatred for him. He’s played the game for many years, and each time he logs in and out of this particular village because it’s a lower level out of the way place, where he’s the only one who spawns there, and he’s begun to think of it as home. Many LitRPG’s have heavy stats used throughout the book, where you’re told each and every time they level up in any aspect of their character, quite frankly I skip those paragraphs because they’re incredibly boring to me. Thankfully, this book took a different approach and got rid of the health bars, stat bars, and all of that in favor of something more nuanced. James is a level 80, so he’s capable of taking a beating from a ton of lower level mobs without taking much damage. He’s not able to tell specifically how much health he’s losing, but he knows that in certain areas of the game he will “out level” the general NPC’s and in others, he needs to watch his back. This is a long damn review, but honestly the book is 500 pages which is considerably longer than most LitRPG’s – there was a lot to talk about 🙂 Audience: * female pov in litrpg * multi pov * litrpg * lots of fantasy elements * in depth world building * lots of action * audiobooks Ratings: * Plot: 12.5/15 * Characters: 13.25/15 * World Building: 13.75/15 * Writing: 12.5/15 * Pacing: 12/15 * Originality: 13.5/15 * Personal Enjoyment: 9.5/10 Final Score: 87/100 – 5 stars (highly recommended)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mitticus

    Popsugar challenge #48: Un libro acerca de un juego de rol This is my first gamer-lit book. I'm not a gamer, but I liked the fantasy of another world reality stuff. This is a know trope about the players stranded inside the game, that I think I see it before in movies? I liked the character of James in his inside the village situation, rather than Tina, with her close minded mentality. Los hermanos Tina y James Anderson han estado jugando por siete años el juego de rol de realidad virtual Popsugar challenge #48: Un libro acerca de un juego de rol This is my first gamer-lit book. I'm not a gamer, but I liked the fantasy of another world reality stuff. This is a know trope about the players stranded inside the game, that I think I see it before in movies? I liked the character of James in his inside the village situation, rather than Tina, with her close minded mentality. Los hermanos Tina y James Anderson han estado jugando por siete años el juego de rol de realidad virtual multijugador en linea (VRMMORPG) :Forever Fantasy Online en la onda Dungeons&Dragons con magos, elfos, gigantes, bandidos y piratas, monstruos y zombis. Pero mientras Tina -cuyo alias es Roxxy- juega como Tank, con la forma de una suerte de La Mole, una fuerza de choque capitaneando una liga de asalto a calabozos contra villanos adquiriendo habilidades y tesoros. En tanto el hermano mayor, James, quien en la vida real tiene un monton de trabajos parciales viviendo lleno de deudas y frustaciones, se ha decantado por una vida en una villa de jubatus (especie de guepardos hominidos) con magia curativa adquiriendo conocimientos y mascotas. De pronto, por un hecho sin explicar hasta ahora, quedan todos atrapados en el juego, donde la muerte ahora es real, y la física empieza a actuar, y los no-jugadores empiezan a actuar fuera de reglas. Ah, y los odian. Uno empieza la novela creyendo que va a simpatizar con Tina, quien esta a punto de sacar titulo de bibliotecaria , pero al final terminó cayéndome muy mal. Y terminé simpatizando más con los nativos. Tina es la encarnación de todos los conquistadores en todos lados. Solamente le interesa SU opinion, nunca escucha a los demás y cree ser la única que puede rescatar a los jugadores . Y, para ser bibliotecaria, me extraña mucho que no haya leido algo del 'lore' del juego. Scowling, Tina reached up to scrape some of the dried silver blood off her temple. Anders had been right on a lot of levels. Being Superwoman was cool, but now that the reality of not being human had set in, it was unsettling. She’d never paid attention to the game’s lore beyond what she needed to run dungeons and beat bosses. She’d chosen a stonekin because they made good tanks, but beyond that, she knew nothing about her race. For all she knew, she didn’t need to eat at all. El libro sacar a relucir aspectos de humanos y sociedad, que parece una moderna no muy distinta a la actual. Los jugadores que quieren ser otra persona, como cambiar de sexo, o ... burlarse del resto sacando ventaja de ello como "NekoBaby". Y es claro que el elfo-ninja-asesino y mejor amigo de Tina "SilentBlayde" guarda un doloroso secreto aparte de su crush por ella. James , en otra parte del juego, se encuentra en medio del odio tras ochenta años de esclavitud segun los de ese mundo, y debe encontrar pronto una forma de sobrevivir poniendo juntos sus conocimientos del juego y un poco de diplomacia. “Our world returns to normal, and we are able to move once more,” she said. “But we know not how or why we were imprisoned these last eighty years. We know not where the ‘players’ of the Nightmare came from, where they went, or if they’ll return.” El problema es que se enfrentan todos, habitantes y jugadores , a lo que parece ser una fuerte ofensiva masiva de los No-Muertos y del Once-King. :insertar musica de nigromantes: La historia pasa desde el escapismo de los personajes jugando en realidad virtual, la enfermedad que esto ha desarrollado. Like most FFO players, James had heard plenty of horror stories about the VR-induced mental disorder. People with Leylia’s suffered from random involuntary waking lucid dreams. The smoking gun was when they couldn’t wake themselves up during an episode. No matter what they did, they were trapped in the delusion, moving in reality just as they did in the dream. Like sleepwalking but a thousand times more dangerous, because people with Leylia’s had no way of knowing what was real and what was a hallucination. Termina la historia en un 'continuara' de un cuasi cliffhanger. Esto esta pensado como una trilogia y hasta ahora hay dos libros, y voy a buscar ahora el siguiente.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Conor

    I figure I should at least drop my weighted ratings in if Im going to be too lazy to write reviews: Plot:9/15 Prose:3/5 Character:15/15 Setting:15/25 Dialogue:8/10 Enjoyment:30/30 Total: 80/100

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    WHY WOULD YOU END IT LIKE THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I listened to this one on audio, and I have to say that the narrator, Josh Hurley, did a fantastic job. He really brought all the characters to life, giving each of them their own voice. Sometimes I forgot it was only one person telling the story! For me, that’s a mark of a great narrator. Oh man, this story was a lot of fun. I experienced so much nostalgia from my World of Warcraft days while listening to this book. It had all the common elements from WHY WOULD YOU END IT LIKE THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I listened to this one on audio, and I have to say that the narrator, Josh Hurley, did a fantastic job. He really brought all the characters to life, giving each of them their own voice. Sometimes I forgot it was only one person telling the story! For me, that’s a mark of a great narrator. Oh man, this story was a lot of fun. I experienced so much nostalgia from my World of Warcraft days while listening to this book. It had all the common elements from games like these, but felt especially reminiscent of WoW. I appreciate the constant sense of danger our characters find themselves in, this really helped keep the book on pace, but I do kind of wish we’d gotten to see some aspects of these games that are built in for a little silliness and fun other than just raiding and leveling up. Like an auction house, or a fair…stuff that might not have to do with advancing your character. Or even a character or set of characters set in a PvP loop would be interesting. (Especially if it’s like WoW’s capture the flag…that could be fun.) Anywho. One of the things that I thought was interesting about this one, besides of the mystery of how they’re all trapped in the game and how things work differently or the same as they did before they became their avatars, is the characters themselves. The characters in this one…some of them aren’t particularly likable. In fact, I found the main character of Tina aka Roxxy, to be fairly annoying at times. And yet, I still rooted for her! I think, in part, because I love some of the side characters in Tina’s group so much, like SilentBlayde and Frank. (I love Frank. I want to be in the Frank Fanclub.) I liked James quite a lot. You definitely get the sense that this is going to profoundly grow his strength of character outside of the game as well, if they can ever return to normal. I like that there’s a major mystery that needs to be solved (like how they got trapped) and other mysteries that may just be interesting to unearth (like who some of these people are outside of the game—SilentBlayde for example). Aside from that, I enjoyed the world-building and the various in-game cultures that had to be made ‘part of the game’ and then fully realized once things became ‘real’. I especially enjoyed all of this through James’ story much more than Tina’s. If there is one downside to this book for me, it’s the length. The audiobook was nineteen hours and twenty-two minutes. NINETEEN. I am not all that familiar with LitRPG yet as a sub-genre, but I feel like that’s long for this type of story. That being said, I do think there was enough action to keep things going and even though it was long, it was very fast-paced. It very easily could have gotten bogged down, especially as it is very dialogue heavy, but I feel like the book avoided feeling too heavy and the plot kept moving forward. Well, okay the only other negative is something that happens pretty early on in the story, an incident that is condemned but then the character is shown to be somewhat redeemable. I kind of question their redeem-ability to be quite honest, but I’m willing to see where the authors go with this character’s story arc. Overall, Forever Fantasy Online is a pretty fun book and especially enjoyable to listen to. I think having some experience in gaming enhances your experience of it as well. I’ll definitely be listening to the next one once it’s released, and not just because this one ends on a giant cliff-hanger.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christa

    This was my first venture with litRPG. In fact I had never heard of it before this book. I read this solely based off the reason I loved Rachel Aaron’s Heartstriker series, which you should read immediately if you like urban fantasy. The game forever fantasy online is a popular role playing game. It uses virtual reality (think ready player one) to give a full immersion experience. Tina is an expert player and is getting a group together to raid the dungeon and beat the unbeaten last boss, the This was my first venture with litRPG. In fact I had never heard of it before this book. I read this solely based off the reason I loved Rachel Aaron’s Heartstriker series, which you should read immediately if you like urban fantasy. The game forever fantasy online is a popular role playing game. It uses virtual reality (think ready player one) to give a full immersion experience. Tina is an expert player and is getting a group together to raid the dungeon and beat the unbeaten last boss, the Once King. Her brother James is also a great player, but he prefers the fun and more beautiful levels instead of beating the last level. His personal life outside of the game is sad and disappointing, he has a strained relationship with his family, a dead end job, and is in debt up to his eyeballs. While they are playing, a glitch happens. Everyone playing the game gets pulled into the world of forever fantasy online for real. They are turned into their avatar. This is frightening and surreal for everyone, at first they don’t think it’s real. But they soon discover death isn’t cheap, the villains are much smarter, and the non playable characters have a lot to say about their slavery for the past 80 years. I loved this book. I have never played a MMO or RPG, so the book does a good job of explaining roles to people like me while not slowing it down too much for people who play the games. James was my favorite character. I loved his story and his character growth. Tina wasn’t a bad character but she is difficult to like. She’s a bit bossy, and she’s called out on it by her fellow guild members frequently. I think she will be better in book 2. This book did get preachy toward the end, with James negotiating a treaty between two clans. The heartstrikers series had this problem too. It’s a good lesson, but at the same time, it feels like a lesson instead of a natural situation or conversation. I loved the gender roles that were explored. Some players have an avatar of the opposite sex, and while it is humorous, it also is explored in a serous manner. Some characters have avatars that aren’t human, and it was interesting to see the changes. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mihir

    OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Forever Fantasy Online has a lot of firsts a first for Rachel Aaron, it's her first collaborative effort (with her husband Travis Bach no less), and it's her first foray into the LitRPG genre, also it's Travis Bach's debut as well. I was lucky to be given a draft of this book and I also read the finalized version. The story is set from the viewpoints of a brother-sister duo, Tina and James Anderson. Tina and James are both massively experienced players in Forever Fantasy OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Forever Fantasy Online has a lot of firsts a first for Rachel Aaron, it's her first collaborative effort (with her husband Travis Bach no less), and it's her first foray into the LitRPG genre, also it's Travis Bach's debut as well. I was lucky to be given a draft of this book and I also read the finalized version. The story is set from the viewpoints of a brother-sister duo, Tina and James Anderson. Tina and James are both massively experienced players in Forever Fantasy Online, a game that has taken the world by storm and managed to give an experience that's unparalleled in virtual reality. Tina's avatar is Roxxy, a stonekin person who performs the role of Tank in her guild. James on the other hand is a Jujubatu (a cheetah like anthromorphic creature), both of them are great in FFO unlike their real lives wherein their relationship is frayed horribly. They both log in at similar times along with many, many others and find out that there's been a snag, suddenly all of their virtual equipment and weapons no longer work as before. They seem to be locked into the game and not only that, the sensations are more life like and none of them can log out. They are stuck in the game and all of their previous conquests are coming back to attack them. Also all the other characters which are present in the game or NPCs (Non Player Character) have a violent hatred towards any and all players are actively wanting to kill any player that they can get their hands on. This story is a classic LitRPG story wherein we get a spectacular view into the world of FFO and also the things that are occurring simultaneously within both James' and Tina's POVs. The story builds up slowly as the reader shares the same confusion that these characters experience. We also get an idea much quicker than the characters but the world is more unknown to us than the characters. The story is literally into two quests, Tina is trying to save her guild or what's left of it from impending doom behind them. James on the other hand is trying to save his own skin as the Jujubatus are hunting the players. Both of them have to undergo their own struggles and this is where we get to see how they respond to their individual challenges. I must admit amid both the POVs I preferred James' struggles as his self loathing and easy going nature made his struggles that much more refreshing and relatable. Tina on the other hand while having more of the action, was a bit harder to understand. Tina is shown to be a stonekin and perhaps the authors' were more successful than they thought as Tina's POV shows her to be hard and demanding. This however is absolutely needed as you will learn when you read the story. Many of her guild mates dislike her but you can see how she's trying everything that she can to survive and make everyone else survive. There are a couple of other characters namely SilentBlayde and NekoBaby who are present in Tina's chapters and are quite fun to read about. SilentBlayde is Tina's second-in-command and does their best to make sure that Tina gets all the support she needs. NekoBaby is simply hilarious with whatever scenes she gets and I hope the authors explore her story in the sequels. The action sequences are pretty epic and feature terrific battle sequences. The action is very heavy in Tina's sections as they literally are marching to save their lives while battling ghosts, zombie skeletons, and many more creatures. James' sections feature more of the world and the magical fights as his quest has him helping an NPC titled Ar'Bati to save his sister. Both these parallel tracks keep the readers engrossed however readers will easily have their favorite. Lastly I enjoyed how seamless this book was, the book was one fine mix wherein you couldn't tell who wrote what section. I love this in collaborated stories. Overall the story expands really strongly and then ends on a solid cliffhanger, which make me want to read the next book The Last Bastion immediately. Forever Fantasy Online is definitely a book for the gamers among us readers, I'm not a gamer so there were some terms that were unknown to me. Thankfully the authors included a glossary which was great for a non-gamer like me. The one thing about the book which wasn't helpful was the book's pace which took a while to get going. Also the reveal as to the major reasoning about the world's status is never addressed and this is a major concern. I'm going to read the next one but I would have liked to know more about the whys and hows of the world. CONCLUSION: Forever Fantasy Online was one of my first LitRPG reads and it was an exciting one. I was intrigued to see how Travis and Rachel Aaron's collaboration would be. It was a solid effort and the story was one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Can't wait for the sequel....

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I picked this up as part of a reading challenge to read a litrpg novel. I went in with an open mind but unfortunately this just wasn't the book for me. I think the litrpg aspect could have been more exciting and interesting if there was more dungeon crawling or questing. Instead the characters spend a lot of time yelling at each other and arguing and I just didn't enjoy that. I almost gave up on this book pretty early on when there was an almost rape scene and while it was dealt with it still I picked this up as part of a reading challenge to read a litrpg novel. I went in with an open mind but unfortunately this just wasn't the book for me. I think the litrpg aspect could have been more exciting and interesting if there was more dungeon crawling or questing. Instead the characters spend a lot of time yelling at each other and arguing and I just didn't enjoy that. I almost gave up on this book pretty early on when there was an almost rape scene and while it was dealt with it still left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like Tina at all and I found her chapters to be incredibly frustrating. James was a more interesting character and I found his parts of the book to be intriguing. Unfortunately that wasn't enough to keep me interested. Every time I put the book down I struggled to pick it back up because I just wasn't interested. If I didn't need this for my bingo square I wouldn't have finished it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yoly

    Ever since I read Fortune's Pawn I always expect to have an awesome time reading a book by Rachel Aaron and I haven’t been disappointed yet. This one she co-wrote with her husband Travis Bach and I hope this is not the only series that they write together because it was awesome. They’re a great team. I’m a former World of Warcraft junkie, so this book felt like it was written for me. I even had a dream a couple of nights ago that I was a character inside World of Warcraft and I was fighting some Ever since I read Fortune's Pawn I always expect to have an awesome time reading a book by Rachel Aaron and I haven’t been disappointed yet. This one she co-wrote with her husband Travis Bach and I hope this is not the only series that they write together because it was awesome. They’re a great team. I’m a former World of Warcraft junkie, so this book felt like it was written for me. I even had a dream a couple of nights ago that I was a character inside World of Warcraft and I was fighting some old bosses. This book gave me Nostalgia +10. The character development and world building were excellent, I felt like I was inside that world and got to know the main characters and see them grow in this journey. I alternated between the Kindle and Audible version and the audiobook narrator is great! I’m looking forward to the next one in the series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tam

    Forever Fantasy Online is a LitRPG where the characters end up stuck in the game. You know, the ones where the characters play through a virtual reality system and then somehow end up stuck inside the game, being hit hurts, death is permanent, and all that fun stuff. I found this one to be unique compared to those that I’d read previously, almost like portal fantasy rather than LitRPG. NPCs (non-player characters) are people too. They’ve been stuck in a recurring nightmare where they’re forced Forever Fantasy Online is a LitRPG where the characters end up stuck in the game. You know, the ones where the characters play through a virtual reality system and then somehow end up stuck inside the game, being hit hurts, death is permanent, and all that fun stuff. I found this one to be unique compared to those that I’d read previously, almost like portal fantasy rather than LitRPG. NPCs (non-player characters) are people too. They’ve been stuck in a recurring nightmare where they’re forced to act out the game for the last 80 years. Naturally, they aren’t very fond of the ‘players’. The two major POV characters, Tina and James, both have their own character arcs which are independent of each other. I enjoyed both POVs immensely, however, I preferred James’ POV more, I really enjoyed reading about him and found his chapters to be more relatable for me. While the book switches POV each chapter, I rarely found myself wanting to skip chapters to get back to a character I preferred. Tina was preparing for a raid of the biggest, baddest dungeon in the game with a trial team to prepare for guild inductions. The change hit before the team entered the dungeon, and Tina is faced with the challenge of managing her team and ensuring their survival. I really enjoyed her survival arc as she struggled with managing an unfamiliar team. Overall, I wasn’t a huge fan of Tina’s personality. She’s stubborn and controlling, but at the same time, she’s doing all she can to keep the other players alive. I admire her determination to save them all, and the challenges she perseveres through, but she constantly conflicts with members of the team she’s trying to save. In this, the authors have done a fantastic job of creating the conflicts that would likely arise when you throw people who were playing a game to relax into a situation where their lives depend on the game they were playing. James, on the other hand, logged into the game in a lower level area where the NPCs quickly pick up on him being a player. James quickly finds that the NPCs were originally people in the Forever Fantasy Online world who’d been trapped in the game and forced to live by a script for 80 years. For some, this meant simply giving the same quest out millions of times. For others, this meant they were the character that was kidnapped every day for the players to go rescue. Needless to say, they weren’t very happy about their 80 years of nightmarish living. James was easily one of my favourite characters. He reminded me a bit of Rachel Aaron’s Julius Heartstriker from the Heartstrikers series. He plays a healer and wants to do all he can to help the local NPCs and right the wrongs caused by the game. Throughout this book, the authors do a great job of showing how their characters react to different scenarios and the growth they achieve. Over the course of the book, they go through some serious character development with their emotions and motivations quite clear for the reader. One of the other things I really liked about this book is how it deals with common practices in video games. Characters who chose to play non-human characters have to learn how their new bodies work; how their tails work, what it’s like to have elven agility, what giant stone people like to eat. They also deal with characters who elected to play the opposite gender in the game and their sudden change in gender, and players who’ve bought their accounts online and are in end game content without having any idea how to play. Furthermore, the unrealistically shrunken maps are extended to make them more in line with what an actual landscape would be like, and bags/inventories hold a much more realistic number of items. Overall, Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach have written an amazing story and a realistic LitRPG which deals really well with a number of different factors involved in gaming. They’ve created a great world with lots of interesting pieces of lore and filled it with realistic, well-developed characters. The stakes feel very real and from early on it’s evident just how much they stand to lose. The only negative thing I can really say about this book is that it left me wanting more and that I’ll have to wait for the sequel. Josh Hurley’s narration of the audiobook is very well done too, and I enjoyed every moment I listened to it. I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy: * LitRPG * Character Development * Character Conflict * Multiple POV * Female POV * Good Worldbuilding * Battles Check out more of my reviews on my collaborative blog, The Fantasy Inn

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    Meh, didn't like this one much. That being said, this might actual be a real case of "it's not you, it's me". I went in to this book knowing that I'm not a gamer - or a gaming fan. I should have known the fighting scenes would bore me. The book wasn't without its merits, though. I thoroughly enjoyed James's character. And best of all; one again, Rachel Aaron has picked a superb narrator. Hats of to Josh Hurley for his fabulous narration.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex Hughes

    Extremely well written, plotted, conceived. Not in the end my thing, though. But I’ve always been a Civilization 4 or SimCity kind of person, anyways.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Non-starter. I'm not a gamer, and one of the things I really appreciate about most of Rachel Aaron's books is that they're fairly clean. Well, this one isn't, at least language wise, and I can do without that in my life (or on my Kindle). :)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jules (Never enough time to read)

    I loved it. What a journey!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zophael

    Overall I thought this book was okay, the world in this book is more interesting than the main characters. Tina’s side of the story is mostly whining and complaining. I feel like the whole sexual assault thing was a vehicle to explain the mental disorder confusing virtual reality with actual reality but they don’t go anywhere with it. They don’t tell any of the other players the assailant is suffering from it, it wouldn’t excuse his action in game but it would help explain them, sine they ALL Overall I thought this book was okay, the world in this book is more interesting than the main characters. Tina’s side of the story is mostly whining and complaining. I feel like the whole sexual assault thing was a vehicle to explain the mental disorder confusing virtual reality with actual reality but they don’t go anywhere with it. They don’t tell any of the other players the assailant is suffering from it, it wouldn’t excuse his action in game but it would help explain them, sine they ALL thought they were dreaming. So that part felt a bit unnecessary. I also feel there wasn’t much character growth. Tina spent most of the book feeling bad she let people down and didn’t listen to them, so when she had the chance to band everyone together and was pissed she had to give up absolute control to let people have a say it cemented my dislike for her. It showed she never changed despite all she went through. James’s side of the book was much more interesting. The story and npc characters had more to them than just hatred for players. Watching them change and grow made up for some of the disappointment in Tina’s story and is what kept me reading. I will most likely check out the next book but I won’t slog through it like this one if I start to feel disappointed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Full review is here, on my blog!~ This is the story of Tina Anderson and her brother James who are avid players of Forever Fantasy Online, which is a full VR MMORPG. One day, they are playing just like normal when with a shudder and a shake, the entire game becomes real. Dying is really death, zones are really huge, and enemies are rather sentient, now. Roxxy, a paladin and the guild leader of the one of the top raiding guilds has to lead her people from an unbeatable raid to the sanctuary of a Full review is here, on my blog!~ This is the story of Tina Anderson and her brother James who are avid players of Forever Fantasy Online, which is a full VR MMORPG. One day, they are playing just like normal when with a shudder and a shake, the entire game becomes real. Dying is really death, zones are really huge, and enemies are rather sentient, now. Roxxy, a paladin and the guild leader of the one of the top raiding guilds has to lead her people from an unbeatable raid to the sanctuary of a friendly fortress without them dying. James, a healer, is stuck in the staring area for the cat people, and those cat people are *not* happy with him. They know he’s a player, and they say that he and his people have kept them enslaved in a nightmare for the last 80 years. He has to convince them that he means them no harm and that they probably shouldn’t murderkill him into a million pieces. I have played a lot of MMO games over the years, and this one brought to mind some of the best times I’ve had with them. I met my husband in World of Warcraft (while making fun of way-too-serious guild leaders in /tells in Molten Core while fighting Ragnaros. True story. It was destiny. ❤️❤️❤️). But this one brought everything from WoW to FFXI/XIV and Everquest II and even Skyrim sometimes to mind, in the best way possible. Maaan, I sort of miss those days. Memories. Anyways, back to this audiobook! This was a fantastic adventure that was never slow and never boring. It switches back and forth between Tina and James, who are not… really on speaking terms right at this particular moment due to strife both in game and in real life. So, we have them in different places doing different things but still having to more or less be the voice of reason. One to a group of tired and annoyed raiders that don’t understand what all the stakes are, and the other in a group of rather hostile NPCs. I cheered hard for the both of them, usually. Tina was a bit over-the-top at times, I can still understand where she was coming from. James I cheered for most of the entire book. I wanted him to win, to make the cat-people and the gnolls become… less enemies with each other. Frenemies, perhaps. Through the power of winging it, mainly. As one does, in these sorts of situations. It was interesting to think how people/personalities/likes and dislikes and so on would change if you were suddenly your character. There are a couple female characters who are really male in the real world, so they suddenly have to deal with all kinds of new and different experiences. Some food doesn’t seem appetizing to some while it seems delicious to others. It made me think what I would be like if one of the games I played with any great regularity were to suddenly become real. If it were FFXI, I’d have been a gangly elf with an admittedly sweet AF feather hat. If it were WoW, I would have been either a blue cannibal or a cow who turns into a fat giant owl… and if it were FFXIV… I’d have been a cat-man in a bathing suit. Look, I never said I wasn’t ridiculous. >.> And it was a nice bathing suit! ^_^ All told, I had a really great time with this book, and I can’t wait until I manage to get the sequel into my earholes. I must know what happens next!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    I'm not sure if I'd have liked this as much if I wasn't a video game player, particularly a World of Warcraft player (which is quite obviously one of the huge influences of the book) But I am, which means I didn't need any explanation to get into the story. The moment it said: "mountain" and "raid" I was 100% invested and I quite liked it! The plot is not particularly original; I've read variations of the "stuck on a game" and "sentient NPC" ideas before. But it's interesting and goes at a good I'm not sure if I'd have liked this as much if I wasn't a video game player, particularly a World of Warcraft player (which is quite obviously one of the huge influences of the book) But I am, which means I didn't need any explanation to get into the story. The moment it said: "mountain" and "raid" I was 100% invested and I quite liked it! The plot is not particularly original; I've read variations of the "stuck on a game" and "sentient NPC" ideas before. But it's interesting and goes at a good pace. The main characters are both the best and the worst part of the book. Tina and James are brother and sister and they are quite at odds with each other. They both have problems (James is a quitter, Tina an overbearing asshole) and their story offers them a possibility of growth that shows really good character development. I'll admit I came over for the arcane missiles and now I'm staying over for the characters; particularly James. It'll take a while until I warm up to Tina...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Graylark

    + Action-packed and page-turning + Story was gripping, if darker than I expected + Quite liked the subtle little romance building up there - Characterization pretty bad. All characters were either full-on asshole or would do a complete 360 to nice guy, so fast it gave you whiplash. - Almost everyone was not very likable in the guild, including the guild leader herself. The only likable person there was SB. I'll still read the next book, because I want to know what happens. P. S. It ends on a + Action-packed and page-turning + Story was gripping, if darker than I expected + Quite liked the subtle little romance building up there - Characterization pretty bad. All characters were either full-on asshole or would do a complete 360 to nice guy, so fast it gave you whiplash. - Almost everyone was not very likable in the guild, including the guild leader herself. The only likable person there was SB. I'll still read the next book, because I want to know what happens. P. S. It ends on a cliffhanger.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    This was a let down. I loved her Eli Monpress series and mostly enjoyed the DMZ series. But I'm giving up on this one. I just can't stand the characters. Look, being a leader takes more than berating and bullying people, even when the stakes are high. If that's all you've got, you don't deserve to be a leader. Maybe she learns a lesson or something, but I'm not willing to read more to find out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Linsky

    This was a good tale, and well written. But I don't know that I'll read the sequel(s). The tone is very GrimDark -- everyone's hands are against us, the situation is horrible, what the hell are we going to do?! Where Log Horizon is kind of a dream, FFO is a straight-up nightmare.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Davey Sterner

    Characters were obnoxious and showed little to no growth or development. Story moved frustratingly slowly. Exciting parts of the story were bogged down lengthy unnecessary descriptions. I preferred the side characters that actually showed some depth and the only reason this book gets 2 stars.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brad T.

    Awesome awesome awesome. Great book

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ernest

    Fun read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dorothy

    Great book for Online Gamers of all ages! I was introduced to Rachel Aaron's works via Eli Monpress and the Heartstrikers Series. Great fun!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jill Heather

    Westworld, video game version. This book took a REALLY long time to get fun, and it's only because I've enjoyed her other books that I persevered. It was worth continuing, but the first third needed extensive tightening/rewriting.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Meservier

    Tina and James are in love with the VR game Forever Fantasy Online. That is until all the players become trapped inside. They quickly discover that the world of FFO has never been just a game, but a real place, and the NPCs, held captive for years, are ready to take out their revenge on the players. And respawning is no longer an option. Forever Fantasy Online is my first foray into the LitRPG genre, and based on what I’ve seen here, I can see why so many people enjoy it. Tina and James’s stories Tina and James are in love with the VR game Forever Fantasy Online. That is until all the players become trapped inside. They quickly discover that the world of FFO has never been just a game, but a real place, and the NPCs, held captive for years, are ready to take out their revenge on the players. And respawning is no longer an option. Forever Fantasy Online is my first foray into the LitRPG genre, and based on what I’ve seen here, I can see why so many people enjoy it. Tina and James’s stories are quite exciting, filled with incredibly high stakes, and exciting action sequences. One of my favorite parts of the book is the idea that the world of FFO was a real place before it was a game. It really makes you think. How boring would it be to live the life of an NPC, giving out the same quest, day after day. Or how terrifying would it be if you were part of a quest where you were constantly tortured and murdered? I like the fact that Tina and James were very different characters with different storylines. Tina is a raid leader, who finds herself suddenly responsible for the lives of dozens of vulnerable (and often cantankerous) players. James is more of a loner who wakes up surrounded by NPCs who now want him dead. The one issue I had with Forever Fantasy Online is the fact that it felt like it was constantly about 10% too long. There quite a lot of scenes (especially those involving arguments) that dragged on. It’s one thing for me to sympathize with Tina/Roxxy as she struggles to deal with frustrating players, but if I’m emphasizing with her to the point that I’m frustrated with the book itself, then maybe it’s time to ease off. Forever Fantasy Online is rich, exciting book put together by wife and husband team Rachal Aaron and Travis Bach. I look forward to checking out the second book in the series when it’s released.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I picked this up to fulfill the LitRPG square for Fantasy Bingo. I am not an experienced reader of LitRPGs, in fact, this is arguably the first one I've read. I have read Sufficiently Advanced Magic, which I understand is pretty close to LitRPG but lacks the actual "in the game" aspect to truly be LitRPG. I have read several volumes of Rachel Aaron's great Heartstrikers series before, so I was pretty confident I'd enjoy this book and it did not disappoint me. Forever Fantasy Online (FFO) is I picked this up to fulfill the LitRPG square for Fantasy Bingo. I am not an experienced reader of LitRPGs, in fact, this is arguably the first one I've read. I have read Sufficiently Advanced Magic, which I understand is pretty close to LitRPG but lacks the actual "in the game" aspect to truly be LitRPG. I have read several volumes of Rachel Aaron's great Heartstrikers series before, so I was pretty confident I'd enjoy this book and it did not disappoint me. Forever Fantasy Online (FFO) is basically set around a game of the same name. FFO is a virtual-reality MMO, so when you play you normally get 10% of the sensory feedback of things your character is experiencing in the game. However, shortly after the story starts, things get all too real as the characters feel everything at 100%, and the player interfaces disappear along with all the methods to exit the game abruptly no longer working. Mana and other supplies like food, ammo, and gear are now finite resources and worst of all you don't respawn automatically when you die - unless you're raised from the dead quickly enough death seems to be permanent. Our main protagonists are Tina, a library sciences major who is doing her best to bootstrap herself through school in real life, but in the game Forever Fantasy Online (FFO) she's Roxxy, an enormously powerful (and just plain enormous) stonekin, a well-respected main tank for a top raiding guild. Tina's introduction felt way too real to me, I empathized with Tina from page 1, having sat in her spot as a raid leader dealing with raiders flaking out on nights where there's no loot for them, and just doing boring farm stuff to trial new players. Our other main protagonist is Tina's older brother James. In real life James used all their families resources to try to get through school but ended up not finishing his degree and burying himself in debt in the process of not getting there. In real life James struggles tremendously under the debt and stress of working all the jobs it takes to make payments on the debts. In FFO James is a talented healer, but more than that he is a big-time explorer/completionist - the guy with all the mounts, all the pets, all the quests, explored all the glitchy places you find out about in rumor, knows all the lore. Although occasionally James will help out Roxxy's raid, most of the time he's off doing his own thing and escaping reality. As the "real" action opens up and the players are fully immersed in the newly-real game, they have to come to terms with an awful lot of changes on a very accelerated schedule. Suddenly all the fantasy races they'd chosen (fish people, cat people, stonekin, elf, etc) have an impact on them - changing tastes as far as who and what they find attractive, what foods they can eat, how they move. Their natural stats do too - the high intellect people are suddenly great at calculating time, distances, odds, etc. The strength based classes are truly incredibly strong. The agility based classes can move at incredible speeds but at great physical cost. Injuries (and even death) are suddenly real and the mana for healers to heal or raise the dead is finite and not as easily replaced as it was before. Food is a scarce commodity. Ammo gets used up. Backpacks no longer hold 100s of items, so everyone's spare equipment (and in James' case his main equipment since he took it off when he'd last logged out) are gone. Teleportation spells are no longer working and reins to summon mounts do nothing. Roxxy and her raid are in the highest level area of FFO, standing in front of the castle of the Once King (an undead king trying to take over the world with his undead minions) and the first boss of the raid, Grel'Darm is stomping out after them along with an absolute army of undead. Roxxy begs and bullies her raid into retreat trying to save all of their lives. James is a jubatus (cat person) Naturalist (most healer, but some offensive elemental magic). While Roxxy and her group are facing nothing but what have always been enemies, James has more of a culture shock to deal with. James is in the savanna, a relatively low level (20-30? area) populated by a Jubatus village and a group of their hereditary enemy gnolls who are being corrupted by the undead influence. Well, now that FFO has become real the relatively sparse Jubutus village now expands to be a full size town and is suitably populated. Many of the Jubatus people were basically just gone/in stasis for the 80 subjective years the game (the Nightmare to the inhabitants) had been running. Those who were NPCs absolutely hate players - and understandably so, the players took their gear, murdered them, left them to die, ignored their questlines or made them do the questlines over and over - as you do to NPCs, but in this case they were real people trapped in a Nightmare for 80 years. Now James has to find a way to not be killed by the revenge-seeking Jubatus which leads him on a pretty standard FFO quest, but with much more real consequences at stake. One thing that I thought was really interesting the authors introduced near the beginning of the book was a disease called Laylia's Disease that some players came down with, where they could not tell hallucinations in real life apart from their in game experiences, so they never knew if they were dreaming/hallucinating or playing the game. One of Roxxy's raiders suffers from this. Apparently you aren't supposed to play the MMO anymore if you have Laylia's, but the player couldn't stay away. This led him to trying to take advantage of what he thought was a Laylia's hallucination to victimize another raider. After that incident and James musing on if he had come down with Laylia's, it's really never addressed again later in the book. I thought this was really interesting and had some potential, but it never was revisited. Anyhow, I found this to be a really enjoyable read. It's a bit lengthy for what's basically a light read, but it was fun. It felt VERY accurate to the experience of playing MMOs, especially in a raid leading position where you're dealing with a variety of players who you may know really well and those you may have just grouped with 5 minutes ago. You could definitely tell the authors play MMOs and have a love of gaming. One last note, the character of Frank - the other tank in Roxxy's guild was fabulous and I wish we'd spent just a little more time with him.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Gwaltney

    As a devoted fan of Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers series AND SwordArtOnline/LogHorizon style anime, I could not have been more excited to hear Aaron was going to write a series in the LitRPG genre. As with the Heartstrikers series, FFO is full of rich world building, introspective characters who grow with the story, and a large helping of moralizing. I enjoyed this book for what it was, a light read by an author I enjoyed. I struggled to get through a couple of bits, and my major issues were that As a devoted fan of Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers series AND SwordArtOnline/LogHorizon style anime, I could not have been more excited to hear Aaron was going to write a series in the LitRPG genre. As with the Heartstrikers series, FFO is full of rich world building, introspective characters who grow with the story, and a large helping of moralizing. I enjoyed this book for what it was, a light read by an author I enjoyed. I struggled to get through a couple of bits, and my major issues were that the key aspects of Aaron's writing (as mentioned above) were slightly tarnished in comparison to her other series. In particular: The world building barely touches on the most important aspect of any story with characters stuck in a game: How did they get there? (view spoiler)[Even more importantly, the world of FFO seems to have existed before becoming a game (80 years ago by game time). The fact that alternate worlds exist and can be turned into games by some how storing 9/10 of the world's landscape and population in an undisclosed but definitely not accessible location while trapping the remaining 1/10 as NPCs with no free will is hardly discussed or mentioned. The 'real world' is not seen at all after the game becomes real, opening a whole host of other questions not really touched upon. Are authorities aware of the FFO issue, is anything being done about it, can players in the real world be disconnected from the VR system and live, are the players in FFO now just digital copies of their human selves and their original selves still alive in the real world going about their business as usual. No hint of answers to these questions is really provided. (hide spoiler)] Given that this is going to be a trilogy, there is still time to have questions answered. However, finishing the first book with no real teaser or hint about how the entire premise of the series is actually possible left me feeling unsatisfied. Unlike the generally likable characters of the Heartstrikers series (Bethesda aside), the two main characters are not very likable, probably because they are too relatable and the comparison hits too close to home for a lot of people. (view spoiler)[The story follows two siblings. The sister Tina is insecure and an incurable perfectionist whose self-esteem relies on being the best leader possible in FFO. Once the game becomes real, this leads her to being what could be described as a "bossy b*tch" that no one likes or respects on the outside and a self doubting worry-wart on the inside. The brother James is an over-worked, college dropout that put his family into debt and ruined any chance his sister had at getting financial aid for college. James feels, understandably, like a loser and a failure anywhere but in FFO. Once FFO becomes real, those feelings are magnified with extra doses of guilt and a budding sense of obligation to make everything right in the world to compensate. (hide spoiler)] While both main characters feel very realistic and relatable, their internal struggles become rather tiresome the 10th or so time you hear about it. They do learn and grow, but that process is painful for both the character and the reader. One of the things that I loved and hated about Heartstrikers series was how much time was spent moralizing. All the view point characters did it: pondering about the right choice to make for what felt like the entire chapter or spending a similar amount of time explaining to the other characters why X is the right choice to make. For the most part, this was fine though it did slow down the pace of the plot. FFO took this even further. While issues such as harassment, rape, gender equality and racism need to be addressed in society, having full blown lectures/sermons on them in my light/fun reading can quickly become old. The story it self was slightly disjointed and repetitive as it follows the two main characters (siblings) who don't reunite til the end of the book. After reading FFO, I can say I will pick up the next in the series, just to finish the story. While not a true LitRPG (characters are in what WAS a RPG but is now real and none of those rules apply), the story is a fun hypothetical and is worth a read if you like to play games and ever wished you could actually live in one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Pop Bop

    MMMM, now That's Good LitRPG My first few attempts to read LitRPG did not go well. For most of them, reading the book was like looking over someone's shoulder while he played a video game. In the better ones, at least, the heroes end up in the game, but then the adventure just goes on like a real adventure and the "gameness" gets left behind. This book, though, was interesting and engaging because it managed to be both a ripping adventure and a knowing and clever meta-commentary on gaming itself. MMMM, now That's Good LitRPG My first few attempts to read LitRPG did not go well. For most of them, reading the book was like looking over someone's shoulder while he played a video game. In the better ones, at least, the heroes end up in the game, but then the adventure just goes on like a real adventure and the "gameness" gets left behind. This book, though, was interesting and engaging because it managed to be both a ripping adventure and a knowing and clever meta-commentary on gaming itself. The idea here is that our two main characters, Tina and James, both escape into Forever Fantasy Online for a variety of not very interesting personal real world reasons. One day, while in the game, everything shifts and they find themselves trapped in the game. But here's the good part - this world is still entirely controlled by the rules of the online game. Hit points matter, healing potions work, leveling up matters, magic is important - it's all just real. And it hurts to be punched. And here's the better part - all of the Non Player Characters are now independent, have free will, and are really, really angry about having been used by "players" for their entertainment. The opportunities for meta comment are legion. My favorite angle is that since Tina and James have played the game for years they know all of the quests, and secrets, and Easter eggs, and so on. The now conscious NPC's only know what their world was like before the "Nightmare", (when it became the game), and they know whatever little bit they did in the over all story. So, each group needs the other, and the blending of reality and game just circles in on itself over and over. Totally cool, and with lots and lots of inside jokes, fine points, details, and little touches that should appeal to any gamer. All of that said, the book could use some trimming and skimming. Fights and battles go on forever, which might be how a game is actually played, but drags in novel form. Tina and James are both more angsty than I needed. I read the first third carefully, admittedly skimmed the middle third, and then paid attention for the very rewarding and cleverly resolved final third, and that worked out just fine. Bottom line is that I enjoyed this immensely. It's well written high fantasy adventure with a twist, and that was just fine by me. (Please note that I found this book while browsing kindleunlimited freebies. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 3.5 stars. *spoilers, for my records* A decently entertaining start to the series. Not sure yet how I feel about litRPG, even though I enjoy mmorpgs. I do like the premise (NPCs are real people stuck in the "Nightmare" while the game was running, forced to play the same plot over and over - now they're free and hate players' guts. The "Once King" and his dead armies are also planning on attacking and overrunning the lands). Also interesting how the players are "becoming" their characters and 3.5 stars. *spoilers, for my records* A decently entertaining start to the series. Not sure yet how I feel about litRPG, even though I enjoy mmorpgs. I do like the premise (NPCs are real people stuck in the "Nightmare" while the game was running, forced to play the same plot over and over - now they're free and hate players' guts. The "Once King" and his dead armies are also planning on attacking and overrunning the lands). Also interesting how the players are "becoming" their characters and taking on their races' traits. Roxxy (Tina) is not a bad character, but I like James more/feel more attached to him. I like how neither of them are perfect, though. The writing is definitely very dialogue-focused; a lot of arguing back and forth. The style seems more amateur/YA than Rachel's other series, but that could be due to the litRPG style. I like the overall story and character developments, but some seem a bit rushed / not earned - e.g the berserker (Kill something..) doing an immediate 180 and being loyal to Roxxy after she kicked his ass and made him realize that he could die. Seemed forced to me. Fangs's transition to being James's brother and respecting/liking him was more natural, but the fact that his mind wasn't broken after being tortured for 80 decades or however long is so unrealistic to me. I do have to say that the various characters' reactions to being stuck in a video game was pretty realistic, though, especially the people refusing to accept reality. Will still read the next book because it's entertaining - definitely keeps me interested and I don't want to put the book down - but overall it's definitely not a masterpiece / one of my favorite series (compared to Heartstrikers, which I LOVED.)

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