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On paper, Jason has a great life. He attends a prestigious private school on scholarship and his parents are reasonably well off.

Yet life hasn't been easy for Jason. He has spent most of high school being tormented by both the students and faculty and his parents are never home.

Frustrated and alone, his one escape has always been video games. In-game, he can feel the type of power and freedom he lacks in his day-to-day life. Fortunately, a new virtual reality game (the first of its kind) has just been released, which promises the opportunity for an even greater escape.

Once he begins playing, Jason quickly finds himself on the path to becoming the game’s villain. In the process, he also starts to suspect that there is something unusual going on within the game.

(This novel contains graphic violence and language. Books don't have ratings, but, if they did, this book would be rated "M" for Mature)

525 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 23, 2016

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About the author

Travis Bagwell

18 books1,843 followers
I live in Austin, Texas with my wife and our three dogs. I'm an attorney by day and an avid video game enthusiast by night. Writing fiction had been a secret dream of mine for a while. However, between school and work, that dream seemed impossible to squeeze in. A couple of years ago, I had a bit more time on my hands and I finally decided to put my nerdy interests to work by trying my hand at writing science fiction and fantasy.

I never expected the wildly positive response to my work. I am truly blown away and humbled and I only hope to be able to continue sharing my stories.

You can find me here:

Or come check out our awesome fangroup and meet some cool people!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,091 reviews
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
June 22, 2017
Catharsis (Awaken Online #1) by Travis Bagwell is an awesome lit RPG novel I had heard so much about so I got the audio and listened and I agree. I saw some reviews that said they read the first 10-20 pages and quit because it was boring. This is where the author is setting up who the characters are on the outside of the game which is super important later. There is a reason the author doesn't jump right into game mode. This is plotted very well and bleeds out little trickles of info just enough for the reader to get hints of what is going on. It keeps you guessing and wanting you to continue to read. The action is fast and furious. You think the main guy is evil, he is not. There is more to this guy then you think. There is a lot of depth to the characters and you really get to know them, even some of the NPCs. I already bought the next book and will read and review it too. Great book!
Profile Image for Matt Ward.
214 reviews12 followers
November 17, 2017
One stars, two stars. I'm not sure, but I'm doing one to counteract all the positivity. I did a bunch of research to find the "best" place to get into the LitRPG genre. Yikes! This better not be the best it has to offer.

Let's start with an analogy. Your ten year old (non-prodigy) plays through a challenging violin concerto in the privacy of your home in front of family. It's a spirited and entertaining rendition, but far from professional. No one would dare put her on a stage and charge money as if she were a professional.

Do you see where this is going? Let's take Travis Bagwell's own profession. No one would dare try to represent someone in court without the years of necessary legal training.

That's kind of why it baffles me that people think it's okay to slap up the book they wrote on Amazon and charge people money for it. This belongs on a personal webpage or in the hands of family and friends, or, at the very least, make it free on Amazon.

Just like any profession, the art and craft of writing takes years of practice to get good at. It's a lifelong journey. A first-year creative writing course could use this book for an entire semester as an example of what not to do. It shocks me that Bagwell didn't even look up basic things every grade-school student learns before hitting publish.

Here's a few consistent issues that come to mind (meaning they weren't typos). There are many, many more.

Elementary errors:
-Incorrect use of quotation marks
-Improper punctuation of dialogue
-Passive voice
-Excessive adverb use
-Tense confusion
-Unnecessary redundancy

Intermediate errors:
-Incorrect comma use
-Flat, on-the-nose dialogue
-Tells instead of shows
-Dangling modifiers
-Excessive, unintentional alliteration
-Lack of motivation or tension to move the story forward

Advanced errors:
-When showing, chooses unimportant or common details
-Weak or confused characterization
-Lack of clear value shifts and turning points at the scene level
-Lack of consideration of prose style (bonus points for reflecting mood or action)

Now we're professional:
-Doesn't consider how internal and external global shape can contrast to create dramatic tension
-Underdeveloped voice

I really don't say this to be mean. I liked the story. Just like the child playing the concerto can be spirited and entertaining, this was spirited and entertaining.

I want to be clear that I'm not saying "hire an editor" or "there's typos," as some other reviewers have put it. There's an experience gap that has no easy fix other than for Bagwell to hunker down with dozens of books on the craft of writing and slowly start to get these issues under control. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to get good at anything, and writing is no exception.

My hope is that he's gotten better with future books. My guess is that since he's not so embarrassed by this one to make it free or to rewrite it or remove it entirely, nothing has changed.
Profile Image for Khalid Abdul-Mumin.
177 reviews71 followers
May 19, 2023
An awesome necromancer/zombie tale (among plenty of other stuff), I love it!

The writing is fast paced and frenetic with events always on a distinctive knife's edge; the world-building is absolutely phenomenal and the characters are quite okay so a fantastic read all through.

It's got a smattering of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. And also, gore, lots of gore, violence, bloodshed and amazing battle scenes. A great LitRPG offering, highly recommended!

Read: 02092023
Edit II: 05192023
Profile Image for Hiu Gregg.
113 reviews156 followers
November 29, 2017
Uuurgh. I don't know how to review this book.

It was fun, that's one thing. It had a likable protagonist, a fun setting, and in interesting premise. This is probably my first full LitRPG, and the audiobook was really well narrated.

But there are some glaring flaws. The antagonist is a cliché, worse than many terrible comic book villains. Any scene with him was actively annoying, and I disliked the character not because he was a good antagonist, but because of how much he resembled a bad comic book villain.

I also wish I feared for the main character a bit more, as you don't really feel that he is in danger at all throughout the book. The story and narration were enough to pull me along, and I did enjoy myself, but I wish I could have been a little more invested in the characters.

But, y'know, I did have fun. Giant battles with exploding zombies, skeleton creatures, and the undead. Fire mages, Ice mages, Necromancers... This is a damn fun book, especially for fans of video games.

So yeah, the book does have its flaws, but that word "fun" keeps popping up. I've already bought the sequel, and at this point I'm pretty sure I'll be reading the whole trilogy.

Profile Image for Naomi.
270 reviews22 followers
May 17, 2018
So, I found the beginning at school a bit boring and annoying? That silent angry distracted type (read "teenager") frustrates me. And I also couldn't be bothered to read those italicized alternative pov chapter intros. So boring. I actually put the book down, but I picked it back up yesterday.

And then he started playing the game. I found myself going back to read all those intros I skipped, hehe. They were actually quite fun and by the end I was looking forward to them. I became quite fond of Robert ;-p

Anyway, for the remainder of the story I was thoroughly entertained, as I love chaotic evil MCs. By the last chapter I was pretty sure I would give this book 4 stars, but I really had no interest in reading the sequel.

Then the epilogue happened, so now I'm off to read book 2!
145 reviews1 follower
March 6, 2017
This book was hard for me to rate. On the one hand, it really was not a great book. The dialogue was pretty shoddy, the characters were shallow, the writing was not great. The big "twist" (that the main character was a bad guy) occurred almost immediately as soon as the "game" part of the book got started. The "RPG" side of things got incredibly repetitive (hey, I wonder if he will put these stat points into willpower?), and often the action plodded along as our narrator had to spell out problems in way too much detail even though they were quite straightforward based on the actions that previously took place (e.g., obviously he feels betrayed that the chick sold him out - do we really need for him to explain his emotions in so many sentences? Please assume some intelligence from the readers). Lastly, the central motivation of our hero (he doesn't have much money, people hate him because he is poor) is not particularly believable. It seems made up, rather than a problem the author actually has any experience with. Not saying that people can't get made fun of because they are poor - rather, the author does not convince me that it would look and feel as he decribes.

And yet, and yet. I found myself pretty hooked on this book, despite all the annoyances described above. I was intrigued by the world that the author set up. I was occasionally surprised by things that happened, and the action was pretty fast paced (even if some of the sentences were laborious, as noted above).

Bottom line, this isn't a well written book, but it is a pretty good story.
Profile Image for Jane A Dark.
74 reviews5 followers
October 10, 2016
So GOOD! 5 Stars.
I can hardly believe that this is the author's first book! I love a good Villain story, but this book is so much more than that. I'm fangirling to much to explain in coherent sentences.
Profile Image for AudioBookReviewer.
949 reviews162 followers
July 26, 2017
My original Awaken Online: Catharsis audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

“Awaken Online Catharsis” is the first of two books in the Awaken Online series written by Travis Bagwell.  The audiobook edition is richly narrated by David Stifel who has voiced books in nearly every genre provided on Audible at the time of this review.  The book is best classified in the Literary Role-Playing Game (LitRPG) subgenre.  It is a rather large book compared to others in its class coming in at 526 pages for the Kindle edition and over sixteen hours for the audiobook version.  So, what sets this book apart in a rather crowded space?  With a plethora of books about heroes conquering the evils of the land, this book reverses that perception and instead tells the story mostly from evils point of view.  Think of what “Lord of the Rings” would have been like if told from the perspective of the side of Mordor.  If you are a gamer, enjoy fantasy, like coming of age stories, and enjoy playing a more chaotic focused character, I think you will enjoy the story Bagwell tells in this book.  Be aware that the book can be quite graphic and rather dark at times, so I would not recommend it to very young readers.

I found it interesting looking up the word “catharsis”, it relates to: purification, cleansing, purging, or liberation.  Each of these words are dealt with in this book.  In short, the book is a coming of age story where the main character becomes a hero, an evil hero that is, within a virtual MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) created by a rather shady corporation.  This company may have lost control over the game’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) system and must hide this fact from the authorities.  All of this begins unraveling while the main character’s physical life is also in shambles with school, parents, and friends.  His one true escape is in this newly created virtual world called Awaken Online or AO.  The book takes place in the near future and is mostly written for the Young Adult (YA) audience.  I say this because most of the adults in the book are stereotypical of ones found in Disney movies.  Often idiots, seeking the child’s forgiveness, and ignorant to the events occurring.  Adult characters are not frequently seen throughout the book.  This aspect does not ruin the book, but I’m sure you will notice it by the end.  When I was done listening to the book, it made me think of the “Breakfast Club” or “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” movies set in a MMORPG.

As one would expect from a fantasy book setting, there are many of the standard tropes such as zombies, undead, skeletons, plenty of magic, weapons, crafting, drunk and bumbling guards, different types of magic, heroes, demi-gods, etc.  These and many more are found within the pages of this story.  Not only do you have such fantasy items, but you also have the inclusion of technology such as AI, corporations struggling to maintain their dominance and monetize their success.  There were many message and dialogue boxes cluttering the screens for those who have previously played such types of games.  I often found that when a new item was discovered, I could visualize the system providing me the details as they were read along with the extra audio beep letting me know it was a system message.  I did laugh out loud as the author described the dreaded “Fog of War” often found on adventure game maps, I always was the one to have to clear every bit of it before finishing the game.  The book brought back so many vivid game playing experiences for me.  I also thought the author’s ability to describe a scene was quite good.  I never felt lost for the events or scenery while listening.  What worked less for me were the many times our main character had inner dialogue.  As critical decisions needed to be made, we as the audience were able to listen in on his inner conversation.  This is more a personal preference than an issue with the writing style.

The book’s narration was performed by David Stifel, who I’m happy to say also narrates the second book in the series.  It is always good to have consistency in an audiobook series.  I liked the narrator’s deep and rich voice which added some to the dark and ominous feel to the story.  For a book of its size, there were only a few slight issues, but nothing that would prevent someone from listening and enjoying it fully.  I came to like the added audio sound effects used when a new item was discovered or some other system event occurred.  Often these minor subtle additions can make a story all that more interesting as long as they are not overused or take away from the story itself.  The sound quality was on par with other professionally done audiobooks I have listened too.  The only minor thing I will point out is that there were a few slightly noticeable volume inconsistencies; again, these can be expected for a book of its length and they were hardly noticeable.

For parents or younger readers, this book is rather dark at times and does contain some brutal and graphic violence found in many other fantasy books.  The book also contains a fair amount of vulgar language usage.  This surprised me for a fantasy series, however I believe the author was trying to write more toward the YA crowd then younger readers.  The book also has a few references to sexual and/or crude humor.  There are topics or subject matter that would not be appropriate for younger readers, and I would suggest this age group find a different book to read.  Or, if you are easily offended by anything mentioned above, this book is not for you.

In summary, I overall enjoyed the book as I thought it added a few things not seen in other LitRPG books.  The writing was not overly complex or deep, the focus on telling the story from the evil perspective was rather unique, and it fills one’s desire for a solidly written and narrated LitRPG book.  The book has received a number of acclaimed reviews, so it seems like it has been well received.  If it sounds interesting, I recommend you give it a listen.

Audiobook was purchased for review by ABR.
461 reviews397 followers
August 13, 2017
Bingo Squares: Debut novel, self published

Plot Summary

So, this book is set in the future, around the year 2076 – virtual reality video games are a big thing, and a new game that’s supposed to be record breaking and ground breaking is being released soon. During the control tests with beta players the AI system that controls the whole video game starts going rogue. The AI named Alfred is over riding protocols, and doing things he wasn’t designed to do – like access players memories. Alfred is supposed to be one of the most advanced AI’s ever created, and the game developers are nervous, but ultimately put the game through beta rounds into general public release.

The main character was expelled unfairly from school, and spends much of his time playing this game, farming items for real world money to make it by.

Alfred continues to do things the designers hadn’t intended, building an interactive world that’s unprecedented. It’s like WoW but incredibly enhanced. One of the more interesting parts of the game is that there’s both pleasant and unpleasant sensory feedback. Pain is a real part of the game and was included intentionally by the game designers to deter people from callously running into battle without a care – it can be turned down, but the pain feedback can’t be turned off entirely.

Alfred had made his own decision to base the magic system in game based on players personality based off a test you take as soon as you get into


Jason: The main character of the story, he’s an 18 year old who’s parents are mostly absent from his life, they go around the world and do conservation activism leaving him to his own devices most of the time. Jason is a typical nerd enjoying video games, has very few friends, and a crush on a girl. Overall I was surprised his personality type in the real world turned out to be what it was in the game.

Alex: The antagonist, and my least favorite part of the books. He’s a psychopath who’s Jason’s school bully. He doesn’t just punch people in faces being a general jerk, he also dismembers his pets and other animals.

Riley: Jasons love interest

Alfred: The AI who controls the entire Awaken Online video game.

Claire and ___ two POV’s of cerulean entertainment – Claire has protested the release of the game due to the unknown capabilities of Alfred to control the minds and bodies of players. ____ is the opposite and pushes opinion and he eventually wins out. (I can’t believe I’m blanking on this guys name)


The beginning starts out a little slowly, but when you get to the action scenes it goes pretty quickly. There are some info dumps, but because I found how the video game worked and how characters level so interesting I didn’t mind. If you find that shit boring, you’ll be bored.

Pros and Cons


I want this video game to exist so badly, it’s set in the year 2074 so virtual reality has been fine tuned and is incredibly immersive, with sensory feed back including pain it sounds like an amazing world to try and explore. The personality based magic system is also highly appealing, whenever I play video games I’m almost always healer class (if it’s that kind of video game) so reading through someone be the “bad guy” was interesting since I can’t ever make myself do it. Sometimes with Mass Effect 2 I’d get bored and try to create and evil character just to see if I could make it through the game in a new way, I always quit shortly after I make the character, I just feel bad being a jerk even if its directed at pixels. Watching someone be an evil character is fun for me to watch though, the zombies and monsters Jason is able to summon is really cool, and watching him plan out how to take out whole groups of people by himself using summoned monsters was fun. I did want to learn more about this world and video game after finishing the first, and I did automatically pick up the next book and finish it fairly quickly, I enjoyed the story a lot.


There were a ton of cliche’s and tropes in this book where I feel like there was no depth. The antagonist is at the top of that list because I don’t buy his back story creating the level of psychosis he’s displaying. His dying mother who probably had mental issues slaps him on her death bed and calls him weak, he then cries at his mothers funeral and his dad tells him to stop showing weakness. First, it’s incredibly strange for parents to act like that, but even if they do say that kind of shit to their kid, I don’t think it’s going to make him go home and gut the family dog and turn into an utter psychopath.


* People who like LitRPG and don’t mind info dumps on rules and magic
* LOTS of magic
* LOTS of fighting
* read more for having fun than reading for polished work. This book was fun but was rough around the edges like many debut novels.
* people who like cat companions.


Profile Image for Quinn.
274 reviews33 followers
August 12, 2017
The synopsis on Goodreads is pretty great, and honestly, if you're the type of nerd who reads that synopsis and is intrigued, or thinks it may be good, you're probably going to like it.
I feel the only time someone wouldn't like it is if RPG books aren't their thing. I happen to love them, which is why I looked for a book like this in the first place. I sifted through a few books, and I'm so happy this one was the book I chose.

Okay. Enough of the recommendation details.
Why I enjoyed the book:

It was a captivating book!
It's an interesting take on RPGs, and the NPCs are wonderfully entertaining as well.
The BEST part about the book is the complexity of the characters.
A key thing that turns a good story into a great story is making sure you see both the good and the bad to characters. It gives them depth, allows you to understand them, and also makes the characters REAL. I have a weird thing where I want not to like the good characters (get frustrated or upset or mad at them) and empathise with the bad characters at one point in each story I read, listen to, or watch. This book's on the concept is based on having your main character, who you like, actually be a bad guy in the RPG and be able to understand why.

The only issue is how annoyed I was when it ended. It's always frustrating when you read a series that has yet to be complete.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,969 followers
October 13, 2022
I'm rounding up from a 4.5 because I had so much fun even if the opening was a bit of slog. Mind you, getting a backstory where you're bullied and no-one believes you and you lose your schooling and you're kicked out of your home is already a downer. It would still be much worse if you snap and shoot up the world. In this case, however, he just plays the fully immersive virtual game.

All right! A little escapist evil fantasy! A HORROR HORROR LitRPG with an MC that is a CHAOTIC EVIL NECROMANCER, yo.

Of course, the AI has some stake in this and can increase certain tendencies while playing the game... :)

Okay, so here's the best part, ya'll: NECROMANCER OVERKILL. Loving the assassinations, loving the raising, loving the tactics, loving the massive powerleveling, the feral zombie traps, the way he completely sacked a whole NPC CITY in a single night.

Glorious. And that's just the start.

It's SO perfect for October and zombie outbreaks, only we're on the SIDE of the zombies. :) It's not like the ones we're fighting are good folks. Muahahahahaha

So funny after we get through the opening slog. And I have a big feeling we're just gonna stay in the great game for a good long time. Let's get our evil on. :)
Profile Image for Kacy❁.
351 reviews44 followers
December 3, 2018
This was great! This is exactly how LitRPG is supposed to be written. It was one of those where you think damn why isn't AO a real thing yet I'm so ready.

But seriously.... That ending had me saying "Oh shit really?!"
Profile Image for Michael.
268 reviews72 followers
March 13, 2022
3.5-stars for this.

I liked some of the ideas but I found this had a number of problems. A fantasy Lit-rpg set in the future. The whole concept of a game that can affect the physical and mental health of the gamer is flawed, in my opinion. I mean, who would sign up for a game that would give you jolts of pain if you did something wrong? Electric-shock treatment was once thought to help those with mental illness, but that was in the dark-ages.

And that brings me to the main bad-guy in the story, Alex. I won't go into detail but this guy is definitely sick in the head. I felt that the sections describing his experiments with family pets could have been omitted.

This isn't your typical Lit-rpg. It's much darker than others I have read and I would caution those of you of a delicate nature or mental disposition.

Those things said it was mostly an Ok-read. Plenty of 'stats' and 'level-up' messages and even some dark humour.

Thanks for reading.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
235 reviews
December 18, 2016
3.5 stars. Knocking down a half start just for the beginning of the book. I don't expect that it would be an issue (hopefully) continuing the series. The book started out with some shenanigans of repetition and odd parents. Jason is picked on for being perceived as a welfare kid, despite the contradiction of having parents that don't seem to work and go gallivanting off as activists. I could rant on the parents, so maybe their extremely brief presence in the book is just that strongly (or repetitively) written. Jason as a character is actually a good one. He goes through some big downs early in the book which could have definitely led me to dropping the book early. But the AI system for Awaken Online was interesting enough to keep me hooked until Jason's success was important to me. The book summary implies Jason is question his motives more than the book portrays, or at least I interpreted from either. Also, I think the pain aspect might have needed more exploration for Jason. Despite my complaints, I enjoyed the book after getting past that beginning hurdle. I will be very likely to continue the series. This is an above average book. Fingers crossed that the next installment will be as interesting as this became. The AI system,Alfred, was a huge part of what really drove my interest despite being more of a background/side story. And it really worked being that way.
Profile Image for Isaac Earl.
69 reviews
May 2, 2017
I like the concept. I even sorta enjoyed the story. Will probably read the 2nd one to see what happens next.

My main problem is that there were way to many moments where I was rolling my eyes.

In this universe people that are rich are always evil, and Jason the main character has such a terrible life where he goes to a really good school and gets good grades and all the rich people are big meanies.

I guess what I'm saying is that the premise of the story wasn't believable to me so I didn't sympathize with the main character very much.

The "game world" was also not very well done imo. Everything was too convenient and the main characters spells etc were really unbalanced for a game.

ALL that said, I still am curious how it progresses, so the story did a good enough job of being compelling.
Profile Image for Teruko.
2 reviews
October 18, 2016
Great first book

Well written, intelligent main character, and doesn't end in a huge cliffhanger. Now I just have to wait for book two!
Profile Image for Rajkumar Pagey.
258 reviews18 followers
February 6, 2023
3rd Read
Blitz through it. Made me ponder about the philosophical aspect of the book. Can an AI really distinguish between good and evil. And though Jason is not killing anyone, he is inflicting physical pain on other players. Albeit those players knew what they signed up for beforehand, does it lessen his deeds?
I'm still going to root for Jason. But this time, I agreed with Claire just as much as with Robert.
I think the battles are exquisitely written.

1st Read
This book makes us cheer for the bad guy!!!
And I love it.
Go Jason!
Kill them all!

Catharsis indeed.

I loved the various storylines apart from the game. The game developers, the politics in the company, the school. It felt real. +10 points for immersion.
Profile Image for Kevin.
20 reviews2 followers
April 3, 2017

Wasn't sure I was going to like this book, the beginning was meh but I enjoyed the book far more after he got in the game world. I thoroughly enjoy the in depth strategies he used to over come his enemies instead of going in waving his sword like a mad man. Plus Bone lord lol
Profile Image for Gareth Otton.
Author 6 books75 followers
August 11, 2018
I abandoned this one about a third of the way through. From what I read it had an interesting premise that might have gone somewhere, but it failed where most LitRPG books I have read do... they fail to create stakes and treat the story as a novel.

STAKES - When you play a game these stakes have been built by the game developer and you feel them because you are living them out through your avatar. In a book, however, we are one step removed from that. It's like asking someone to get invested in another person's investment in the stakes they're experiencing by proxy. That's complicated enough to write as a concept, so good luck getting it to work as a novel. The few LitRPG books I have read that have been engaging did what all good books do, they established genuine stakes early on to hook the reader into the protagonists struggle.

TREAT THE STORY AS A NOVEL - I've said it before and I'll say it again, a book is not a game! When you play a video game you are interested because there is a level of emersion and personal involvement that comes from the player actively partaking in the story. A novel takes much more work than that to hook a reader and unfortunately, you can't skip that. Explaining how people build experience points via a game system is infinitely less engaging than having a character earn actual experience by unfolding a narrative that takes that character through trials and events that make them grow and earn that experience.

Overall there's probably a nice idea in here somewhere and I sensed a bigger message coming through from the side story at the start of each chapter, but it just wasn't engaging enough for me as someone who came to read a book, not read about someone's experiences playing a game.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews257 followers
January 21, 2019
Mini-Review: LitRPG

3.5 Stars - Narration by David Stifel
4.5 Stars - Awaken Online Game & Mechs
4.5 Stars - eBook Format
3.5 Stars - Plot
2.5 Stars - Characters

Alright. I can see why the series is popular among the LitRPG readers. It took more than half of the book for me to get into the story and feel excited about the events happening in it. The game world, Awaken Online, is awesome! The characters that drive the plot? Eh. They're almost 2-dimensional. Almost. It's hard to feel engaged to the story completely if you don't really care about the character. It's not even a matter of liking him or not liking him. It feels like Jason, Riley & cast are all just tools to show off the game. Cool. Except this is a book and the characters need a bit more depth.

I like the ebook of the story more than the audio. The narrator is not bad but he doesn't add to the story. In fact, he makes the meh parts sound worse. I recommend reading the series over listening to it.

Profile Image for Adam Cagle.
115 reviews4 followers
November 26, 2016
This is a FAR better RPG story than Ready Player One, which was great more for the litany of 80s references. Awaken Online is set in 2074, but the world is not unfamiliar, the story is told from two sides in such a way to build GREAT plot tension around the game and all that it is.The complete VR emersion for players makes the in game world as real as everything else as far as story. While it also deals with High Schoolers, the plot is far more violent and adult than Ready Player One as well... I only even compare the two as they are in my mind the two pinnacles of the genre. The morality struggles in Awaken are fantastically presented. As soon as I finished I looked for a sequel, it's in the works I hear... but I have half a mind to offer to bring Travis Bagwell Thai food and beer deliveries until he finishes to speed things along, can't wait for more.
Profile Image for Kelly.
325 reviews1 follower
August 30, 2017
The reviews on my kindle made this sound like it might be good, and I was hoping for another series my boys could read. What I found instead was a story about a selfish, pouty high school student. He enters into a virtual reality video game that is slowly becoming his new reality, and (big surprise) he is still a selfish person. But now he has power and can kill indiscriminately because it's all a game. A book based solely on revenge with no redeeming qualities. A solid pass.
Profile Image for Jonathan Pinches IV.
20 reviews14 followers
October 1, 2018
This book really surprised me. 4.5 stars.

Truly a contender for best Lit-RPG I've read. Only other I've enjoyed this much is The Way of the Shaman.

This book is more of a well thought-out, really fun adventure rather than a beautiful and immersive fantasy.

The ideas are par for the course as far as the genre goes. New technology, super MMO in VR, development of fantasy-level artificial intelligence, etcetera.

What makes this series really stand apart is the execution of the ideas and plots. They came together quite well, I'm surprised this is Mr. Bagwell's first book. At times I found myself thinking, "Holy crap, this is awesome," and wanting to shove popcorn in my mouth.

The IRL portions seemed resolved too easily, and that bothered me, but the discussions were still well-written. The MC's conversational tact and emotional maturity don't remind me of a teenager. I feel like I'm listening to someone in his late twenties or early thirties. Of course, you could just blame this advancement all on Alfred...

*Dun, dun, dunnn!*

Highly recommend this for Lit-RPG fans. 4.5 or even 5 stars as far as Lit-RPG goes. If you like fantasy like Name of the Wind, the Hobbit or Dawn of Wonder, I would give this book 4 stars.

I'm interested to see how the author develops this series from here.
1 review
April 20, 2018
Gave it a shot because of the high ratings.

The action in the opening scene was weak. OK, fine, whatever. Doesn't know how to use commas with the vocative case, uses comma splices. Irksome, keep pushing through. Cliché nonsense about teachers and students all hating this dopey, stuttering crybaby because as the son of two lawyers who don't get paid as well as other lawyers (hey, it's written by a lawyer! shocking!), he's poor. Eyeroll. I get that he's a villain, but make him a compelling one. YA-style short sentences with childlike vocabulary. Urgh. Pages and pages of meaningless filler that goes nowhere. OK, I just can't anymore. I gave up.

The standards for this "litRPG" genre are either unforgivably low, or someone's gaming the ratings system here and on Amazon. I say that as someone who plays and enjoys RPGs and MMOs.
Profile Image for Nina.
230 reviews23 followers
January 19, 2018
That was a great read. Other then "Ready Player One" I've never read a litRPG book and ... wow I really liked it. But never got to know why Jason was singled-out by Alfred from the beginning.
I am sure there are other players killing off their first targets? I would have - doesn't mean I would go evil through-out the game.
In my fav MMORPG I am a Necromancer too but doesn't mean I am a villain ... I just like to kill with my minions.
Yes I agree to many before - the pre-story for Jason is pretty standard young adult content but I loved Jason's character development and how he turned out .. question is: with or without Alfred??
Overall excellent fun exciting and gripping read ... totally recommend it.
Profile Image for N.V. Cefalo.
157 reviews4 followers
August 6, 2018
1 word: AWESOME

This could be the best LitRPG book i've read so far. I really like the heavy story elements favored over the endless and repetitive stat reading that comes with the usual LitRPG books. I was a huge fan of the storyline overall; he took an underdog story that we can all relate to, and turned it into an underdog overcomes all - but still "in progress," so the story isnt really over yet. The main character hasnt won yet - I can't wait to read book #2.

Character development was really good, it ties very heavily with the plot and it's a very well thought out concept. I am curious to know what happens in the next book!
Profile Image for Mike .
68 reviews11 followers
July 10, 2017

Good debut. I enjoy these kinds of books. In the same vein as Moonlight Sculpture and Play to Live series. Some pretty decent LitRPG. I dont play video games either but I do enjoy these.

Been away for about a year. Excited to be back to reading and rejoining the community.
108 reviews
August 2, 2016
Hard to believe it's his first novel

This was probably one of my favorite Litrpg books I've ever read the story grabs you from the beginning and never lets go
I can't wait for the next book in the series.
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