Lukasz's Reviews > Death March

Death March by Phil Tucker
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really liked it
bookshelves: self-published, tbrind, spfbo2018, litrpg

LitRPG is a genre that's just about to explode. Big publishers seem to overlook the growing popularity of the genre. They'll probably catch up once it skyrockets. At the moment, though, LitRPG is a genre in which indie authors can excel.

It's also a genre I have trouble with. I'm not a gamer. I don't like video games. I don't play them. I have zero interest in them. I prefer sport and reading books.

Despite this, I enjoyed newest Phil Tucker's book and devoured it in one day. It's well written, quick to read and entertaining.

The premise is simple: humanity has failed to fix the problems we've created. The world is in terrible shape, and things seem to go downhill. To salvage humankind, the brightest minds created the first real artificial intelligence. Surprisingly, instead of solving climate and social problems, the AI called Albertus Magnus created an incredibly immersive virtual world called Euphoria Online.

It's not cheap to enter the world. But once you enter, it's unlike anything you've ever played. The most controversial aspect of Euphoria is the inclusion of Death March playing mode. Anybody who survives six months in-game while playing at that difficulty level can ask a favor from AI and get whatever he wants. The tricky part is that when you die in a game, you also die in real life.

Story's protagonist, Chris, is an experienced player who happens to get a chance to play Euphoria. His brother is at risk of being condemned to death, and Chris is prepared to do anything to save him. That includes playing at Death March difficulty level. In order to survive, he'll need to level up fast and become apex predator in this virtual world.

The story is simple and straightforward. Chris needs to level up fast. After each achievement (killing some creature, making friends, athletic feats like running for your life) he unlocks new skills and gains XP "points" that allow him to buy new goodies (skills, weapons, and alike). He examines his character chart multiple times. Along the road, he meets two other players and they form a team. We get a look at other characters stats and follow their adventures.

Regarding plot, it's not particularly complicated novel. They need to run from stronger creatures, grind up their levels, fight stronger monsters, survive, get some points, gain and/or buy new skills and then fight some more and endure some more.

Happily, there's much more to the story than that. There's a meta thread that tries to answer the question why Albertus needed Euphoria to salvage humanity. There's also a sort of cliffhanger that suggests that Albertus isn't the only entity with an agenda.

The characters are wonderful. It's easy and natural to like Chris and his new friends. I found them relatable and nice. They're guys I wouldn't mind getting to know in real life. I understand their motivations and wish them well. Apart from humans, there's also a group of goblins who bring a lot of comic relief to the story. These guys rock.

The LitRPG elements and statistics are present throughout the story. At times I felt tired of the stats and Chris telling which skills he's using at the moment to survive. On the other hand, everything was presented simply and was easy to follow.

I enjoyed this book. It won't work as a standalone. Nothing is resolved, and it should be approached as an introduction to Phil's imaginative world of Euphoria. While I'll never become LitRPG hardcore fan, I plan to read the rest of the series. Mainly for the characters that are easily relatable. But also in the hope of discovering Albertus' master plan.

Death March is the second book I read as part of the TBRind - An Indie Author and Reviewer Matching Service created and maintained by The Weatherwax Report.

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Reading Progress

May 6, 2018 – Started Reading
May 6, 2018 – Shelved
May 6, 2018 –
11.0% "Death March is for real. When you choose to play Euphoria on this level of difficulty and you die in a game, you die in real life.

While I'm not a gamer it literally sucked me in from the page number one."
May 6, 2018 –
46.0% "Well, LITRPG fans will be satisfied. Protagonists needs to level up and gain points and new skills in order to survive. For me it's a bit repetitive. The skill is here, though and I'm motivated to continue."
May 6, 2018 –
May 6, 2018 – Finished Reading
May 13, 2018 – Shelved as: self-published
May 13, 2018 – Shelved as: tbrind
November 10, 2018 – Shelved as: spfbo2018
December 8, 2018 – Shelved as: litrpg

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Jennifer (new) - added it

Jennifer Great review! I just got my copy of this one; it's my first venture into LitRPG, and I'm not sure what to expect. I do not play or enjoy video games (board games are more my speed), but I'm curious to know what all the fuss is about. I like Tucker's first Black Gate book, so I'm hoping to like this one.

message 2: by Darianne (new)

Darianne "Just about to explode"? It's been crammed full of people trying to cash in since, like, 2017 or earlier. I'm a gamer but I despise the genre for its amateur writing, with horrible cliches and typos and all that jazz. I haven't read this one, so it may be different, but every LitRPG book I've (tried to) read -- about 17 different ones, I think -- have all made me cringe from the extremely adolescent writing style. The fact that some people gush all over them and say they're the best books ever make me raise my eyebrows... I guess they're wish-fulfillment fantasy so I shouldn't try to put the books up against any sort of standard (I can enjoy quick, fun, trashy books too), but it's really difficult for me to not see all the glaring errors in writing that these books typically have.

Anyway, all that said to say, your review has piqued my interest and I may give Phil Tucker a try.

Lukasz HI Darianne, I guess you may be right. I'm not into LitRPG genre, amy my knowledge about it is limited. I've read two books/series - and Arcane Ascension by Andrew Rowe. I enjoyed both, mainly because of the human aspect as mana / armor / skills stats and points usually bore me

Newpath What do you think of the fact that the MC keeps risking his life(and his brother's, by extension) for people who are just playing a game? That kind of idiotic decision making just took me out of the book completely.

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