Listen free for 30 days

Audible Membership

$14.95 a month

1 credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
The Plus Catalogue—listen all you want to thousands of Audible Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks.
$14.95 a month plus applicable taxes after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for $37.58

Buy Now for $37.58

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Tax where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Elorion has just finished a VR gaming session to find a monster waiting for him. With 19 other students who have also been kidnapped, he is now subject to the whims of a thousand year old succubus, and he must survive deep under the Earth in the lost realm of the Underworld. 

Gifted with the ability to use magic and advance in power, he is given an ultimatum: Level up or die!

©2017 Apollos Thorne (P)2018 Podium Publishing

What listeners say about Level Up or Die!

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    140
  • 4 Stars
    51
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    129
  • 4 Stars
    49
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    115
  • 4 Stars
    50
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2

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

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

*sigh* If only I were a geeky 13-year-old

...but I'm not. I'm a 50-year-old Fantasy/SciFi afficianado, RPG gamer, and occasional reader of GameLit. This book is clearly designed to entertain misfit teenagers that love losing themselves in scenarios where they can kill with impunity, display fantasized magical powers, indulge their navelgazing punctilious desire to control every aspect of their life, and engage in some kind of social congress with the opposite sex.
(Actually.. it's kinda sad when you think about it..)

Fortunately, Apollos Thorne is good at it. He understands his audience and provides straight-up MMORPG action: explore dungeons, kill sh*t, learn to exploit skills, level-up. The book is often strikingly sophomoric, but there are admirably very few complicated overlying quests/goals, no tedious basebuilding/runecrafting, and no inordinate focus on Character Sheets and Inventory Screens. The book is satisfyingly straightforward.

The reading by Graham Halstead contributes to my favorable impression of this audiobook. His diction/tone/timbre/cadence fit the text nicely and his voice-acting is excellent (few affected accents and easily-distinguishable characters). Less fortunately, the book is best consumed at 1.15X speed (Halstead's rate of reading is a little slow). Altogether, Podium Audio cast the project well.

I would definitely appreciate this offering more if I fit into the target demographic.. but I still rate 'Level Up or Die!' 7 stars out of 10. It was offered for Free as part of the 'Plus' initiative and I'm happy I gave it a try. I won't be continuing with the 'Underworld' series, but you justifiably could do so if you become enamored with this uncomplicated LitRPG scenario.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting world environment

First I want to say I didn't really like the narrators voice, but over time I got used to it. It was competent. The author takes an interesting way to get the people into the gaming world, kidnapped by a supernatural being. I found this more interesting than the typical "stuck in a vr machine that delivers pain and can actually kill you". This made the danger more congruous. The world was interesting as were the various world mechanics. The story moves along quite well. I bought the second book right after I finished the first and at the time of this writing, I am just about to start it. I assume it will explore the characters more and develop more plot since the world has been introduced.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

bacon and meh?

It is an interesting take on the reborn story, but the main character falls a little flat for me.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

very good book with some awkward moments

Anybody who plays RPGs or deep dives video games will enjoy this book. That said, there are some moments (mostly during character interactions) that seem as though they were written by a high school student, or an adult who never really matured. The main character's conversations and observations with/of his female interest are downright cringeworthy.

All in all I had a lot of fun with the book though. Ready Player One vibes but way less forced pop culture references. Like Ernest Cline though, the author is pretty obviously not great with social interaction.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What a pleasant surprise

This is the best and most creative implementation of video game stats meets real life that I have read. If you enjoy video games, leveling up, or a light hearted story that doesn't take itself too seriously, I really recommend this one. I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did and I couldn't put it down. The character progression is awesome and the story is captivating. I seriously loved this book and immediately bought the rest in the series.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Just Boring

when the main character is transported to a video game world and his main problem with his new life is how boring it is. he becomes super powerful right off the bat and just grinds and grinds. I didn't finish the book I have two hours left and just can't take the number crunching anymore or the main character talking about food anymore. I'm glad it was free but it was still not worth the price.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

fun entertainment for a long drive.

This is just what I needed. It's a fast passed book with a good amount of humor and violence. some times all you want to simple escapism.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a great story for any fan of isekai or rpgs

well written with an indepth magic and leveling system. as well as a wide variety of characters and a love hate relationship with the mistress. looking forward to book 2

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not a bad star

Very interesting concept. Going to reserve judgment u til book two. Seems to be skipping a bit fast through progression.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly good

I've listened to a couple of other books like this and just couldn't get behind them. The story here is straightforward, but interesting. The book does put an emphasis on describing stats and conforming to an RPG system, but unlike some others the author did a good job of summarizing and pacing those sections so they wouldn't get tedious or distracting.

The protagonist comes across as relatable, and his focus on keeping the group alive and building their strength makes him come across as less selfish than some from other books. The OP skills and bonuses he gets, a common trope in this genre, are prevented from becoming overly mary sue by the fact that he is frequently taken down a peg when he gets overconfident. It really adds to relatability. As does his obsession with food, and in particular ranch dressing, which is always a welcome bit of comedic relief.

The other characters thus far are not overly dynamic, but nor are they boring. Most seem to conform to a trope or archetype. It would be nice to see more development (personality wise) and depth in their interactions with the protagonist, but they still function as characters.

The narrator fits the book quite well and I'm impressed by his ability to shift his tonal range and mannerisms to fit the different characters. Sometimes it's like listening to a different person entirely.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ray Johnson
  • 2018-06-05

Swords, spells, & ranch dressing in the Underword

Level Up or Die! By Apollos Thorne is a fun book, but not one without its problems. The main character is a gamer who is snatched from our world and taken to what is essentially a hellish under realm where every fantasy monster you ever heard of is real. The Underworld is not a human friendly environment, or so we are told, and the only job the abductees have is to . . . you guessed it, level up or die. A great premise with some intriguing characters, but even the Hope Diamond has flaws.

My biggest complaint comes from the title. Level up or die. There is a boatload of leveling, and not a whole lot of dying. At least not by anyone except monsters. I suppose that in a case where your protagonist can die, but we all know he’s not going to die, can be hard to write. But, if you go through the whole of the book the number of deaths that we get, even from background characters is . . . . .well, I won’t say how many, but it sure isn’t a high number. In fact, there is literally no sense of danger to the MC at any point. Elorion pretty much solos the labyrinth the majority of the time. He plays everything rather smartly, and keeps his head cool in situations most of us would freak out about and so never comes remotely close to any danger. There is one time where he is shot by an archer, but even that is a minor wound that he comments could have been much worse. This lack of danger really takes some of the kick out of what could have been an outstanding novel.

Elorion is an interesting player, who seems to adjust well to whatever situation he is dropped into. He uses his head, and at the right time listens to his heart. His unique abilities allow him to level himself, and others, far quicker than should have been possible. He also manages to constantly think of innovative ways to use his powers that show he will be a force to be reckoned with when the time comes. At no point was I ever bored with the story or any characters, in fact I rather loved seeing the creative methods Elorion came up with to defeat his enemies or apply his abilities. I know I just carped about the whole no sense of danger thing, but that did not detract from my enjoyment of this book in the slightest. The Mistress is a luscious villainess that you love to see appear, and you will want to punch an imp in the face. The MOBs are standard fare, and just fodder, but Thorne’s writing still makes them interesting creatures to kill. I did appreciate that most loot that Elorion pillaged from the corpses of his enemies was not something that he could always use, or even if he could use it he did not employ it. He sold or shared most of the loot.

Graham Halstead narrates the story, and does very well. His voice isn’t as smooth as Luke Daniels or Jeff Hay, but it still works in this genre. He’s read a ton of novels, and knows what he is doing. He plays a multitude of roles, and has fun with it, and so you enjoy the reading even more. He has a done a few other series that I have looked at, and will now probably pick up and give a listen to in the future.

Oh, the cover. I usually comment on the cover. I am pretty neutral on this cover. The art is nice, but a little cartoony, something about the protagonist’s pose looks stiff, almost like the stance an action figure would take. I think it is a fun cover, but really isn’t all that impressive. If it were a touch more realistic, then maybe I’d rank it higher, but the more I look at that pose the more I think of some kid playing with his He-Man action figures.

In spite of the few flaws, the book is fun, and keeps your attention. I only paused the book because work or real life intruded, otherwise it would have been a straight shot all the way through. I cannot wait for the next novel in the series, and look forward to more great things from Thorne. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. In fact, getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

148 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2020-10-16

Such a struggle

The narrator did the best he could with this book but my god, the characters self banter is so cringe and the the mc is such a Gary Stu. Premise of the story is not aweful but is completely ruined by the fact that there is 0 struggle for the mc

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 2018-07-03

Was an enjoyable listen

I enjoyed the story. It was straightforward and entertaining. The audio perfomance was easy to listen to and none of the voices sounded too awkward. I would recommend and I do intend to pick up the second volume when it is available as an audiobook.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anthony R Giannette
  • 2019-08-13

Relaxing storyline

Kidnapped! ok i like it. game system good and understandable. Another story about a disadvantaged spellcaster who bucks the system. He wins. The humans find themselves in the underworld. it’s a nice place once you’re trained into all the killing. This time we see a utility caster solve the riddle of what to do with adaptive magic.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MattB
  • 2018-06-05

Wonderful Surprise!!

I pre-ordered this book on a whim for an audible promotion and ended up with a very pleasing surprise.

One of the first MCs in a litrpg novel whom is not a bit mentally challenged... or more precisely, this is the first MC I can identify to with his min/maxing and build optimizations.

The world building is not overly complicate but does not feel lacking.

Great setup for a series with great potential.

I can honestly say I am looking forward to the next book in the series and for more from this author.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ron Swanson
  • 2021-03-06

meh

Pretty flat no real meat to the story. No depth to the characters. I think the author is onto something but, there needs to be more world building, the characters do not come to life for me. Who knows it may be great for others. This one just didn't click with me.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-25

Ranch dressing.

I thought that things would get serious but it just turns out that the main antagonist and protagonist are literally invincible and any sense of "danger" the characters were in was just a front to prolong the story for the main character to mention ranch dressing more.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Travis Mandenberg
  • 2021-05-15

Incredibly Boring

while this book was most likely for younger readers the truth of the matter is it is incredibly boring. in the beginning of the book the main character is evaluated as a Healer and told that he will probably not last long because of it. much of the rest of the book is spent painting the heal spell that he has as one of the most powerful and versatile skills that you can have in this particular Realm. I feel like there is rarely any tension or Direct danger presented in this particular book. most of his background or potential Danger. I listen to this all the way through because it was free, additionally I wanted to make sure that I was being fair when I wrote this review. if asked what the climax in the story was I'm not sure that I could answer that question. the performer was relatively good, but slightly monotone. Though that may have just been the monotone feeling of the book itself.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Danny Moody
  • 2021-03-18

So good!

I enjoyed this book SO much. I like that this is a real world with game mechanics and that the MC’s background with gaming is able to excel because of that. Which is to say, the MC is OP but he still has a long way to go to reach par in this world. The game skills are really cool and I can’t wait to see what happens next! This is a solid entry for Audible Plus. The narration was very well done.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zac
  • 2018-06-23

It sounds like a game I'd jump into

I listened to this twice before reviewing it and I plan on listening to it a few more times. It appears to be the authors second book but I'm hooked, I'm going to be waiting on this series and probably any other he makes.

4 people found this helpful