Wow. This book was one of those where you start it and aren’t that in love with it, and then later fall head-over-heels in love with the story, the characters, and the world. I wasn’t too sold on the book after reading the first couple of chapters, but around 56% of the way into the book (according to my Kindle) I suddenly realized that I couldn’t put it down. I wound up reading the entire thing before going to bed, which I can’t say that I regret (my head regrets it though).
The novel follows a journalist (Harriton), who is given the assignment to take part in an online virtual gaming world and write a series of articles professing how wonderful it is. Harriton isn't thrilled with this assignment at first, and tries to shuffle it off on his other coworkers. However, once he starts gaming, he quickly becomes pulled into the world of Fayroll and realizes just how addicting and tantalizing it can be. As Hagen, his game character, Harriton begins to burn through quests, and realizes just how seriously people take what appears to be a relaxing break from reality. I can't say a lot without spoiling it, but I really did love the direction that the story went.
I’m not a video gamer, but I found myself being sucked into this story, especially when the whole NPC storyline got involved. I started eagerly following along with the quests, and trying to solve the mysteries before Hagen did. The world and the characters that Vasilyev created were just so interesting, and the different quests and intricacies were just icing on the cake. It was almost like I was playing the game, and going on all of these awesome quests. It was pretty depressing when I finished the book and I realized that I was still in my room (and still awake a good 30-45 minutes later than I had planned--that's how much I got sucked into this book!)
I also really did like how the book went about approaching how addictive video games can be. Harriton went from hating his assignment to absolutely loving it, and even when he was getting addicted he at least realized what was happening. The book also showed some of the darker sides of the gaming community, which was interesting to read about since I normally associate gaming with relaxation and fun.
The first part of the book wasn’t my favorite, as it was a bit slow with some character inconsistencies. Harriton/Hagen was difficult to pin down as a character, since his attitude and outlook on life seemed to fluctuate, and his manner of speaking sometimes made him seem much younger (like early teens) than he really was. These inconsistencies weren’t the end of the world, but were a little irritating, especially in the first half of the book. There was also some law of convience events, as well as some info dumps, but seeing as this was book 1 of a twelve (!) book series, I can’t really hate it. You have to give some background at some point, especially to set up such a long series.
Also, some of the history dumps were really interesting, so I didn’t mind. (And therefore I really shouldn't call them dumps because I liked!)
The style of writing also took a little getting used to, since it was a bit shorter/choppier than what I normally read, and the quest notifications were a bit strange to have in a novel. Again, while this really irritated me at first, I eventually decided that it didn’t really matter and that I loved the book anyway.
Overall, it was a great read. It was interesting, it was fun, and it left me wanting more. I had a hard time falling asleep after I finished, I was that into it. I’m not too familiar with the litprg genre, so if anyone is interested in dipping their toes in I would definitely recommend this book as a great starting point. It gives you enough background on gaming and how the whole system works that even people with little to no gaming backgrounds (me) can enjoy the story and not be Googling all of the terms.
Disclaimer: I received an eBook copy of More Than a Game through NetGally in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my rating, review, or opinions of the book.