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Awaken Online: Catharsis

Written by: Travis Bagwell
Narrated by: David Stifel
Length: 16 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (130 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Jason logs into Awaken Online fed-up with reality. He's in desperate need of an escape, and this game is his ticket to finally feeling the type of power and freedom that are so sorely lacking in his real life.

Awaken Online is a brand new virtual reality game that just hit the market, promising an unprecedented level of immersion. Yet Jason quickly finds himself pushed down a path he didn't expect. In this game, he isn't the hero. There are no damsels to save. There are no bad guys to vanquish.

In fact, he might just be the villain.

©2016 Travis Bagwell (P)2016 Travis Bagwell

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book both I and my son enjoyed.

I’m always looking for books to meet my fourteen-year-old son interested in reading. About a third of the way through this one, I got the eBook for my son and he loved it. Good story. We’ve already finished the second book and are waiting for the next one to come out.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sam
  • 2019-04-30

Excellent start, cant wait to continue

This book was excellent and a credit to the LitRPG genre. I will be snagging the next one in the series momentarily. The narrator and sound effects were great, though his female voices are lacking. The plot, characters, and worldbuilding were excellent though one of the characters was overpowered and made no mistakes. Overall excellent book.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Righteously Evil

Great story for RPG players, especially for those who like to see the dark side of the game world. Loved the narrative and was beyond compelled to finish the story and follow through the rest of the series. Narrator was well chosen as well. #Audible1

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing book, must check out for fantasy or rpg fans

Book, writing, and characters are amazing. Narrator comes across robotic at first but as the story goes on it becomes much more enjoyable and natural sounding. Hard to put down!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

I had real doubts about this story in the early chapters and I admit there are moments that really frustrated me. But for the most part, when I look back at some of those moments it felt appropriate for the characters. There was both real and virtual adversity. Triumphs and failures. Judgement, condemnation, and forgiveness. Noticeable development in the characters. It grabbed my attention and I've enjoyed this book and it story. I am very much looking forward to the next one.

I was pleasantly surprised by the setting and its development. Especially the characters. They had real strengths, weaknesses, motivations, goals, and development. I found it relatively easy to connect with characters and parts of their personalities. A weakness here would be the lack of characters and the sometimes large gaps between interactions. Hopefully moving forward there will be more social interactions with greater diversity.

Not to say the story or characters that were present were perfect. There were shallow moments and reasoning at times, but even these felt like a more realistic and human moment of shallowness. It has been a pleasant diversion from many other stories in this genre that enjoy a great dearth of satisfactory characters.

I will mention that as far as the "performance" of the recording is concerned, it was fine overall. But some of the pronunciation choices diverged from what I consider the more common used version (ex trebuchet). Other than that, some of the skill/stat readings sounded rushed with minor oddities and variation in pronunciation and clarity. It didn't really hurt anything, but I did notice it and remember it through the story... Hence the mention here.

Would recommend, i intend to start the next book immediately.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting premise, terrible writing

Interesting idea to set the story in a MMORPG controlled (and mostly built) by an advanced AI. And what a world - wouldn't we ALL want to play this amazing game? Unfortunately the writing itself is pretty terrible - utterly cliche character set up, characters muse aloud to themselves to expound on obvious plot points, and pretty much every female character mentioned is abysmally characterized. Example, this is the conversation where we meet the main female character, Riley: blonde, rich, beautiful, senior, and supposedly intelligent:

"Where are you heading now? Riley asked, trying to break his morose mood.
"I have calculus, and then on to English"
"Calculus, huh? You must be a smart one," she said with a teasing note in her voice and a grin. Her eyes sparkled with mischief.

>>gag<<

Let's not even mention the female broadcasters who apparently watch footage of a video game and develop instant crushes on computer game characters, nor the fact that every female in the book basically seems to be simply impressed by whoever has the most power. Painful to read. Male authors: if you really have no clue how to write women, just write them exactly like your male characters. Believe it or not, we are intelligent human beings too.

Anyway, if you can get past the bad grammar and plodding writing, the story of what happens in the game is actually interesting (assuming you enjoy computer games). The author clearly did a little bit of research about how MMOs work -- I'm guessing reading a few D&D handbooks and playing some World of Warcraft -- although he's also clearly not a real long-term player, as he clearly doesn't quite grasp some things that would be assumed by players who are really expert in these games. He also clearly didn't bother talking to anybody who actually makes computer games for a living, as most of the descriptions and assumptions about what happens on the development side are laughably wrong -- the idea that any game would be designed without complete real-time logs of all events is totally laughable, and no game company EVER would EVER write into their terms of use that they could only access a player's logs if they suspect wrong-doing. Constant monitoring of every game event is necessary, not only to ensure the game remains balanced, but also in case of any customer service dispute (like lost items, refunds, contested loot, whatever)... it's utterly impossible to believe that this company wouldn't have real-time logs of every event and transaction accessible real-time by a large customer service team. Anyway. I *do* make computer games for a living so this probably isn't going to bother most readers as much as me, so I won't continue this list....

Bottom line ... entertaining light reading fantasy if you enjoy gaming and can overlook the shallow characters and bad writing.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Good story

Argh, loved the story, exploring 'evil' powers, but the pronounciation of trebuchet irked me, unreasonably so.

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Enjoyed it

I actually enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. Purchased it on sale & was very pleasantly surprised.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Katy C
  • 2019-05-18

Greatly surprised and impressed

As an avid MMO player I have tried to read other books of this type (entering the virtual world if a game) but they have for the most part seemed very one dimensional. THIS is an in depth emersive world that I could see existing in, with all the action of battle and faction intrigue, down to the intricacies of finding the right crafting mats. This is a great book series that any MMO player will enjoy. Come, join the Kin!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Bryce Bilbo
  • 2017-04-21

Gravely entertaining!

Would you consider the audio edition of Awaken Online: Catharsis to be better than the print version?

Hard to say. For me personally, I may have enjoyed this book more in print. Regardless, it is a very good read if you can deal with some minor eyerolling moments.

What other book might you compare Awaken Online: Catharsis to and why?

Probably "Ready Player One" though that is only for the mmo theme. Otherwise, Im not too sure.

What does David Stifel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Mr. Stifel was perhaps not the best choice. He does do a great job at building a good atmosphere, but falls short on some deliveries and tone of certain characters. He is just a tad too robotic and doesn't really fit with the book, in my opinion. When it comes to the cities, describing events, coming through with a building atmosphere or the clashing of titans, he nails it. When it comes to dialogue though... eh. It can be a tad underwhelming or just plain jarring. His voice just seems out of place and the voices aren't too varied. Still he did do a pretty good job and it wasn't enough of a mismatch to make me overlook the good things he did.

Any additional comments?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, recommend giving it a read or listen even. It has hiccups without a doubt, some enough to make me roll my eyes or frown a bit.

The story itself is very enjoyable, but there are issues. Realistically, I think the Mr. Bagwell did wonderfully on capturing that general teen guy frustration, but at the same time after going through my own phase like this just made me groan. It did seem to be over the top at times.The hatred for the rich and just people that treated him badly was too edgy for me. Don't get me wrong it wasn't too much of an issue, just a small gripe. This bigger issue was that you hear a lot of repeating phrases and descriptions. Normally not something that bothers me, but here it did. Could just be personal bias after listening / reading a different book that had a larger range, but still.

Okay okay, so I whined about the bad. What was good, right? The author is damn good at describing battles, fights, horrors of beast and demon. These monstrosities that linger and tear out of nightmare. The times and convos when the main isn't being your average angsty teen are well-done and usually funny. He captures being an awkward boy in a place he doesnt feel he belongs like a champ. The parts with magic on average, while the casting is about what you'd expect, the description of how they act is pretty good. There are some magics though that made me sit up a little straighter and give the book/computer a respectful nod. Mr. Bagwell is also pretty good at the whole "Hey this guy is getting torn apart. It's not pretty and not everyone can watch it." Killing while plentiful in the book is never really completely normalized. There are parts where spectators or people have to leave cause they cant watch. There are part in some fights or battles where the battle isn't one side of unwavering freight trains versus the solid rock cliff of never crumbling foes! No. People run. People get scared. People leave and are never seen again. The frustration and fear is sometimes palpable.

Mr. Stifel just wasn't the right fit here, for me. I enjoyed his voice, but it was out of place. Went into enough about my issues with that already.

TL;DR - Pretty simple, the book overall is worth your time. I personally don't agree with the choice in reader, but the performance wasn't bad. In some places it was damn fine. The book has issues, if you hate or can't deal with a taste of highschoolesque angst and drama here and there, I'd recommend not listening. It is few and far in between though, keep that in mind. The fantasy and dark magic side is very good to the point of making this book almost amazing.

55 of 64 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 2016-11-11

This is more of a YA novel than reviews indicate

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed this book. its clearly part of the emerging genre of "LitRPG" - and reads like playing an MMO video game. And just like such games, the characters are stock and predictable: outsider, loner high school kid; rich jerk; decent girl caught in the middle. But it was still a fun ride.

98 of 115 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bart
  • 2017-04-20

Reader is dull unfortunately

I loved the book. I am a huge fan of Ready Player One and this is very reminiscent of that - minus the 80's nostalgia. The reader was just terrible tho. Fortunately he wasn't bad enough to return the book, but had the story even been four stars I would have returned it. Sometimes I caught myself criticizing the reader more than listening to the actual story. Considered getting the book, but I listen to books on my commute and don't have a ton of other time to read, and I loved the story.

25 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JKT123
  • 2019-05-21

One of the best LitRPG series available

One of the best LitRPG series available. So many are trash. This author understands the balance needed between geek and good writing. Have loved all the books in this series.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • KT
  • 2019-04-03

Absolutely loved it

I remember reading this on royalroad a while back and remembered when it came to Amazon. fast forward a few years and I saw it on here, Bought it instantly. My first purchase, no regrets whatsoever!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • joseph
  • 2019-03-17

Wow

I really enjoyed the main character, he is not unlike many teenage men. I had put off this series for awhile due to some of the reviews focusing on it being dark. Honestly it's more a shade of grey that has good and evil elements.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-03-10

LITRPG genre is a fantastic break from reality.

love the LITRPG genre and this book is a fantastic example of what this genre can produce. The characters are engaging and fun while the story makes light of the darkness so prevalent in the world. I highly recommend this book to all my fellow nerds.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • glenn
  • 2019-03-07

Better than expected.

slow start, turning into a great original singularity story line. more than the summary leads on

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas
  • 2019-03-03

Strong Lit RPG

I'm a big fan of this genre. I think that there were some outstanding parts throughout the story with a couple of troubling areas. I would have to say that my favorite moment was the attack on the nobles. I thought that it was an exciting and fun idea to be played out. Usually, in this genre, the protagonist is the classic good guy cliche. I will say that this is one of the few books that I've started and couldn't put down. Awaken Online seems to be a book more suited to D&D or RPG buffs.
Some of the issues I saw in the book have to do with the pacing and the switch in character perspective about 3/4 the way into the story. I think that the pacing of figuring out the world, in the beginning, was spot on. Pretty much as soon as he learns to summon a zombie, it all speeds up a touch too quickly. I'm not too sure how I felt about Alexion. He seems a bit underdeveloped. As the significant final battle ends, it is on the cliche side (trying not to toss out any spoilers).
I enjoyed this story, and I hope you keep writing. Good work and I look forward to reading the next book. As always, if anyone wants to talk with me about this story feel free.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful