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Equalize: A Post-Apocalyptic LitRPG

Ether Collapse, Book 1
Written by: Ryan DeBruyn
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Series: Ether Collapse, Book 1
Length: 15 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (45 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Gaia has awakened, and the world will never be the same again

Rockland Barkclay has had a rough year. On top of everything else, his father has just passed, and Rocky has to go it alone on their annual trip. But his plans for drinking alone in Algonquin Park are rudely interrupted by a sea of cosmic energy that governs the universe. Ether, the driving force of creation, has returned. Now a confused Rocky must navigate odd hovering messages to survive.

With the awakening of the very planet they reside on, humans are in a desperate fight to survive in an evolving world. If only Gaia hadn’t woken up so very...very...unhinged.

©2019 Mountaindale Press (P)2019 Mountaindale Press

What listeners say about Equalize: A Post-Apocalyptic LitRPG

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Quite Entertaining

The book does not have a deep storyline but it has that light teenage action movie feel to it. Occasional humour adds to the charm. Perhaps the sequels will improve.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

just wow

cant wate to see what comes next ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really good!

Along the lines of the System Apocalypse. Binged it over the weekend and it was a great listen, hoping for lots more.

2 people found this helpful

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

Great news series.

Overall im enjoying this book quite a bit, but there is a few things that took me a bit to get used to. Also I would have rated this book 5 stars if it weren’t for the over explanation or items and skills, I generally skip these parts if the author carries on with an overly in depth explanation.

The one main thing that took a bit to get used to involves the type of work I do for a living, and of the type of people I work with, there is definitely some internal conflict with the plot of this series so far, but looking from the other-side im finding im enjoying this book and the authors point of view of this new world. Its well written and easy to follow, the only gripe I have is the over explanation of items and skills, but this is only a small issue.

If you are not closed minded im sure you will very much enjoy this book

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

Totally Relatable Protagonist

I loved this story. Our MC is quite relatable for me. Similar age (MC is 31), likes games, but work-game conflict was an issue. Naive optimist at start.
Also the world that the author has created is quite vast, detailed, but still has tons of room to grow and mysteries to come.
One word of warning: Stuff gets real. Not in a erotic/ gore way. But in the way that when things massively change bad stuff happens and people will die.
Definitely getting the next one.

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

Fun and fantastically written

l loved the idea, but the author censors the swear words, it kills the believability.

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

More good than bad!

Great action, exciting fights! The background and reasons for why everything is happening is given as appropriate without any massive exposition dumps, as far as I recall. Although this does lead to Rocky never asking about the most basic parts of the system even when he has a chance until it somehow becomes relevant to the situation. Otherwise, the story itself is well-paced, has a number of very intense moments, and also some attempts at highly-charged emotional situations that unfortunately always fall flat because they're given in the third-person and distanced from the events actually happening.

Rocky is a terrible RPG-player, but he's somehow the most competent--and lucky--person in the world, but Rocky himself is likable enough if you don't think too hard about how he treats the people in his life. His only goal is to re-connect with his family, which becomes such a driving goal that when he finally finds his good friends that he regularly hangs out with, he promptly grills them for info on his family and then leaves them in the lurch, barely giving them a passing thought later in the story and not even trying to help them out afterward. But really, it's their fault because they're apparently not even good enough friends to believe or so much as try to listen to Rocky when he tells them that of course the leader of their settlement that forces them to go out hunting dangerous monsters with unreliable yet better-armed escorts that barely help them is evil. And, of course, his RPG-playing friends who are supposed to be legitimately better than Rocky at RPG's don't seem to understand the basic RPG mechanics that the world is now throwing their way.

There are FAR too many character sheet readings. Thankfully, they get more to the point by the end, but I was already cringing early on whenever I heard the deadpan voice begin to read out Rocky's stats yet again, in full, from start to finish, and without even so much as a small emphasis on the changes. Then Rocky, of course as these LitRPG heroes do, marvels about even the smallest of changes, so you didn't really need to hear the entire character sheet anyway!

There's also a maybe-incest-maybe-not romantic subplot that seems to have sided on the it's-going-to-happen-anyway line of reasoning. Spoiler: The generation gap is too large to scientifically matter, but social stigma is its own challenge.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

dumbest dad humour

I cant tell if the author meant for the mc humour to be terrible to the point I can barely keep listening or it's simply hes got zero talent at it but it would be best to avoid making large amounts of bad jokes instead of trying and failing so much. I also feel like an adult who drinks alone is likely to swear instead of using McDonalds references in the place of cursing very odd choices unless the author happens to be a child.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Hunter
  • 2019-07-10

There's a lot to say about this book.

First. There is a lot to like about this book, it is fun and generally entertaining. The characters are mostly likeable if a bit cookie cutter, the overarching premise is a bit different with the magical apocalypse happening because Gaia wakes up and is pissed.

This book seems to be a bit influenced by Palladium Rifts but mostly in a good way, interdimensional markets, planetary intelligence, the magic apocalypse simultaneously brings access to hypertech and superpowers while also knocking out infrastructure and transportation making a journey of a couple dozen miles take several days of adventure.

This series could become a real gem.


There is also a lot to dislike about this book. I'm going to preface this by saying I know some of this is going to sound nitpicky if you haven't read the book, but it's honestly not as frivolous as it sounds.

First and foremost nobody fake swears like that at all. The first couple times you hear him make a bizarre substitution swear it's mildly amusing, but it's constant and quickly becomes an annoyance and really drags me put of paying attention to the narrative. It would be far better if the MC just didn't swear at all, than to have him use a constant stream of Mickey Mouse Club exclamations.

Second the stat pages and notifications are way over the top, there are places where stat screens are showing up every ten minutes, and the notifications are verbose and repetitive, if the stealth skill levels up 10 times between the last time he checked and now he will read 10 instances of "the stealth skill has leveled up, the stealth skill is now level X" this is unnecessarily wordy and adds nothing to the narrative.

Additionally there are a couple of handwaved inconsistencies I don't want to provide spoilers so, no details on this one. But they aren't bad enough to ruin the enjoyment just somethings I noticed that don't make a whole lot of sense with rhe rules as given.

134 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • 2019-07-14

Mostly 'okay', cringey protagonits.

Right off the bat, I want to say that the protagonist had me physically cringing several times throughout the audiobook. I dunno if it's been mentioned already (I got the book pretty early upon release, didn't get to see any reviews), but the author does this thing where he substitutes cussing with... let's just call it Mormon Cussing.

Fudge Nuggets!

What in the celestial feces?!

I don't give two protein poops! (I shit you not, this one was mentioned during a scene where he's talking about his possibly deceased family).

These are a few of the many I jotted down. Each and every time it completely drew me out of the narrative. I'm not 'angry' at this. I'd say it was to avoid some kind of 'explicit' tag but there's plenty of other explicit content of the murdering variety this, if this were actually the case, it'd be even more embarrassing. I mean, these would make a puritanical English lady cringe in embarrassment. As someone who experiences their fiction through the eyes of the protagonist, trying to imagine I'm them when reading, I do NOT want to be cringing whenever they open their damn mouths...

That major annoyance aside, there are other issues I had with the book. I'll preface this by saying that these have more to do with tropes that crop up way too often in this genre that I'm really getting tired of. Some notables:

- A super special class that only the hero has access to. I'm very much over these. Don't differentiate your protagonist by applying forces that they have no control over. Personally, I don't find a hero that has an uber class interesting (and this isn't a bash against powerful protagonist, trust me). I'd find it way more interesting if he just picked up one of the holy trinity and became super powerful by exploiting the mechanics to make it so.

- Don't do slapstick. Or more specifically, don't make your hero do/say embarrassingly stupid things for laughs. I'm so, so over this. Again, this doesn't mean the characters need to be perfect, but if you want them to make mistakes, make them ones that are more believable. This includes every joke relates to 'Oh derr, I just don't understand women.'

- I'm also very much over the whole 'inner darkness' schtick, and the hero being scared of it corrupting them or whatever. This is a trope as old as time, and it's probably why I prefer stories with protagonists that have served in the military (so we can skip that step). Especially when it's not even cleverly executed. You're not going to get me to sympathise with a protagonist who feels bad about killing really, really bad people (can't get into specifics, spoilers). If you want to try execute this trope, it needs to be handled with MUCH more efficiency. The choices they make that causes a moral crisis need to be really hard ones.

Overall, this was an 'okay' listen to pass the time, and if you're struggling for something to read in the genre, it's an easy enough listen. I wouldn't recommend it if you have a large wish list though and have others you've been putting off for some reason or another.

62 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • rasmus
  • 2019-10-28

Just not very good..

So.. After reading other peoples reviews, I have come to the conclusion I didnt get the same
book as everyone else.. Everyone is so impressed with this book and I just dont see it..

The lead character is boring, hes obsessive and generally just not very good.

I cant really say much without spoiling, however I can say this:

The book is about a bloke thats got a hardon for his family in more than one way, the obsessive tendencies
he shows when it comes to "rescuing" his family borders on the insane. Sure, you gotta save them or get them
or what ever, however the choices he makes are just very.. Odd, not to mention it seems like he REALLY wants
to bone his great great great grand mother. Sure, shes like a few 100 years his senior, but the amount of lust
he shows for someone he more than once claims is part of his family is just very weird.. Like show some constraint
will you?

Now, for the author. The author just seems very lazy.. We DONT need to see the full character sheet of the main guy
every 10minutes! We're not that effin slow! I swear, if you cut out all the unnecessary times the full character sheet
gets brought up and read out, the book would lose about 3 hours of play time. More than once I found myself going
"What? Again?", before checking how long it was since last time (Often it was more than once in the same chapter
with less than 10minutes between character sheet reading). I often found myself skipping major plot lines as I tried
getting past the character sheets again and again, and I often found that I either didnt really care what happened
or what was skipped didnt really have any large impact on the story.. I must have skipped about 1½ hour out of the
7 hours I listened to before saying "Right.. This book just pisses me off more than I enjoy it."

Lots of people seem to fall over themselves to tell others how amazing this book is, I have a feeling its either people
from Canada that really wants a book told from a Canadians point of view, or people that are very different from myself.

The voice acting is really good though, like REALLY good, I was very impressed with the narrators voice range.

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A Murphy
  • 2019-07-02

Earth after Ether

Rocky is out for a camping trip when suddenly, he falls to the ground unconscious. Little does he know, that the entire Earth just did the exact same thing. Mother Earth, or Gia, just woke up and found that humans have been pillaging the world. She starts making contingency plans and returns Earth to the way that she remembers it to be. It turns out that the world used to have classes, levels, and monsters. Not only that, it used to be a part of a much larger universe.

Waking up from the event, he quickly finds out how different the world is now. His main goal is to find his family and keep them safe. He gathers his camping gear and starts heading towards his car. Things don't go quite as he plans.

I have not enjoyed a LitRPG like this one in quite a while. It has some great concepts and turned them into plot devices that the entire book revolves around. I'm not going to go into too much detail, but Gia does not like littering and has a plan to clean up.

Another thing that I truly appreciated is the creative cursing that the main character does. What the Tartar Sauce? Rocky has quickly become one of my favorite LitRPG characters! I am very excited for the sequel to this great book.

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Ben Barlow
  • 2019-08-02

Word count fluffing

The story is overall OK. Numerous plot points, pieces of equipment, or names are pulled from other books. The main character gets a neat sword, and it is named after a Kel Kade book, and character. Plot armour abounds to protect the protagonist to the point that nothing really jumps out and makes the reader worry for him. Linguistically it is a tad childish, describing something as massively huge, instead of colossal, or titanic (words that seem to have been forgotten altogether). Don't expect too much, treat it like an 80's action flick, it is mindless action with little in the way of character arc.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Humility
  • 2019-09-09

Bad MC

What. Thats the emotion I most commonly felt.

What. Did you jusy say "What the grassguzzling hopscotchers." I dont think even a silver age sidekick would touch a curse that unwieldy.

What. A unique class? Really?Author really phoned this in.

What. Did high level monsters literally just drop dead in front of him granting him their exp and op loot?

What. You dont want to maybe take a paragraph to ponder things a moment before you unhesitantly start milking a monster's corpse!?

Its grows clear pretty quickly the author is just rushing the beginning to get to the interesting stuff quicker. For better or worse.

The book is also very paint by the numbers, MC has a territory, snark, inner darkness ect even if hitting all the standard numbers is detrimental to the story.

But it does get better in all the annoying areas as time goes on. Im guessing as the author reaches sections he is interested in writing.

But it still never got good. And after some thought I think I realized why.

The main character doesnt fit at all.

He is an early 30s Canadian ex-basketball player who never hit big because he spent too much time on video games. And he struggles with intense feelings of loneliness resulting in him being superobsessive over his family.

This kind of character makes me think of someone super competive with a natural athletic edge who will spend a lot of his time building up a lot of personal relationships.

It does not make me think of a darkness themed anti-hero with some hidden violent dark side with a penchant for dramatic angst filled rages and combat.

Pretty much everything the MC did just felt incongruent and that made it hard to enjoy the story.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kyle
  • 2019-07-11

Good w/ issues

Enjoying the book so far. The system building is interesting and has a "system apocalypse" to it. That being said it is not without issues. One of the biggest issues is that the author is so adverse to swearing that his MC makes up words and phrases to take the place of the omitted "curse" words. The first time this happens it's jarring, by the hundredth time you hear it, it's just annoying,

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-07-13

great story

this story was great except for the main character making rookie mistakes that anyone who's played D&D shouldn't make that was frustrating but otherwise it's been a great start to a series.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Hunter Wall
  • 2019-07-11

The overall story made this a good read.

My opinion is that this book is a good book to maybe introduce casuals to Lit RPG,but weird because it’s character is 31, and the author chose to remove every swear word and replace it with childlike phrases. I cannot tell you how much I hated hearing “Fudge Nuggets” repeatedly throughout the novel. Ignoring this flaw the story does a good job at combining mythical and sci-fi into a functional universe. The skills are interesting and could maybe use a better explanation as I’m still confused by levels and ranks of skills. But overall the character’s were enjoyable the story had many good turns and many good laughs. Will read the next book.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lonnie-The GreatNorthernTroll-Moore
  • 2020-01-29

As action ramps up, you may hafta duck!

This apocalyptic lit-RPG has a set up with a really unique feel to it. This time, everyone on the planet has to play... or die!
Magic has come back to earth and Gaia has awakened... and she doesn't like what she sees. Her resources ripped out and squandered, pollution everywhere, and to say that she's angry is probably the biggest understatement ever made, so Gaia decides to hit RESET! Everyone that survived the reawakening of magic, is now faced with an entirely new reality, and they have to fight in a game where you won't find a save-spot, and re-spawning is not an option!
The story starts slowly as Ryan DeBruyn lays in the foundation and world building, also he chose to make the story rather "crunchy" with all the stats that keep flashing in front of Rockland's (our main character) field of view! After a while, both you and Rockland will get the hang of it, and it becomes less of an irritant factor. And as the story progresses, the speed at which things start happening ramps up faster and faster. You may have duck to avoid injury!!!
At first I wasn't to sure how much I liked the story, due to the player's stats assaulting me so often, but I soon got over that, so much so that I'm now totally vested in the story and I NEED to know what happens next!
Luke Daniels' is a true pro at narration, and gives us another great performance!

2 people found this helpful