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Equalize: A Post-Apocalyptic LitRPG

Ether Collapse, Book 1
Written by: Ryan DeBruyn
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Length: 15 hrs and 31 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 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

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  • Overall
    4 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 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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just wow

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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 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.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

26 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 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.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Marcus
  • 2019-07-29

Great story for the most part

I loved the story and the narrator Luke Daniels is always great, but I absolutely hated hearing the protagonist try to swear but instead came out with something dumb. It's like he tried to make the phrases he was saying sound more and more retarded. Please fix this in the following books.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter Pakalnis
  • 2019-08-15

A home town LitTPG?! sign me up!

One of the most fun books I've read in ages, skipping a ton of the grind that "new players" and the like usually have to boot. Could probably use a chapter-segregation of the stat screens, but that's mechanics vs content.

Love it. And if the Epsilon turns out to be what I think it is, I fully support my old work kicking butt!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tory Johnson
  • 2019-07-29

definitely worth it

this has been one of my favorite audio books and I simply cant wait for book 2 I'm not a pro at reviews I'd just say listen to it and I'd doubt you regret getting it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Steven Lance Wilbanks
  • 2019-07-17

I liked it

I really liked the book and I can't wait for the next one although I think I would have preferred the actual cuss words to the complete randomness he actually uses

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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,

4 of 5 people found this review helpful