Title: Catharis (Awaken Online, Book 1)
Author: Travis Bagwell
Genre: YA Sci-Fi, Lit RPG based fiction
Theme: Gaming, Conflict, Family Drama, Bullying
Setting: Near Future
Jason’s real life sucks. His parents are never around, his teachers hate him, and he’s the favorite target of the school bully, a good looking sociopath who charms or terrorizes everyone into looking the other way.
The only time he can escape is when a new RPG game is released. Awaken Online is the newest, hottest, most advanced VR game ever and Jason can’t wait to try it out. Only one problem. He’s cast as the villain.
I really like this genre. I loved Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, Vivian Vande Velde’s Heir Apparent, and the slightly less appealing User Unfriendly, Drew Hayes’ NPCs and others in this vein. So despite my age, I’m definitely the target audience for this book. How did this one stack up? It’s not my very favorite, but it’s good enough that I’m already impatient for book to come out.
What makes it interesting is that Jason himself is not evil. He’s just a guy who really tired of being the target of everyone’s bad mood. He’s tired of his parents taking him for granted. He wants to be the one in charge of his own life. He wants power. Bagwell does a good job of getting the reader to sympathize for Jason while at the same time creating some suspense about how it will all turn out in the end.
This book is free on Kindle Unlimited and if you’re into this genre at all, I would definitely recommend it. There’s some swearing and quite a bit of violence, but it’s not too bad. I can’t wait to see what happens to Jason in the next book.