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Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm

The Viridian Gate Archives, Book 1
Written by: J. A. Hunter
Narrated by: Armen Taylor
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
4 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

October, 2042

An extinction-level asteroid, 213 Astraea, is cannonballing toward Earth. Collision, imminent. An international team of scientists is working around the clock to avert the cataclysm - few are optimistic. World governments are preparing for impact with deep earth bio-dome bunkers, but only a select few lottery winners will be saved.

Jack Mitchel, a 32-year-old EMT living in a tiny studio apartment on the west coast, isn't one of those winners.

Still, there might be a way for him to survive Astraea: a slim chance, requiring a radical leap of faith. Through a connection at Osmark Technologies, Jack's acquired a NexGenVR capsule and with it, a one-way ticket to the brand-new, ultra-immersive, fantasy-based VRMMORPG, Viridian Gate Online. Taking that leap of faith, though, means permanently trapping his mind in the game, killing his body in the process.

Worse, one in six die during the transition, and even if Jack beats the odds, he'll have to navigate a fantastical world filled with vicious monsters, domineering AIs, and cutthroat players. And when Jack stumbles upon a secret conspiracy to sell off virtual real estate to the ultrawealthy - transforming V.G.O. into a new feudal dark age - the deadly creatures inhabiting Viridian Gate's expansive dungeons will be the least of his concerns.

If Jack can't game the system, he's going to be trading in a quick death for a long, brutal one....

©2017 James A. Hunter and Shadow Alley Press, Inc. (P)2017 James A. Hunter and Shadow Alley Press, Inc.

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

Disappointed

Gave this a chance but could not make myself care about the MC. 1 second he is acting like a child the next as a holier then thou do gooder. So many holes in the story.. Very disappointed

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ray Johnson
  • Ohio
  • 2018-03-14

Escape death in exchange for eternal serfdom

How would you like to learn that your worl was going to be wiped out by an asteroid in just days, and the best hope that you have is to go into a VR Game in order to survive it? Now imagine that after you are in, you find that the game has been rigged to heavily favor of some members of the upper 1% when they enter the game. You are fated to be an eternal servant? You'd probably like it as much as Grimjack does.

VGO is an interesting take on the RPGlit/Gamelit genre. It has some familiar twists and turns, but done in brilliant ways. Hunter has a nice flowing writing style; he knows how to open and close a chapter, and his ability to do dialogue is fantastic. I would put this book up against Delvers, LLC, Awaken Online, and Lion's Quest. Cutter, Grimjack's sidekick/partner in crime is a complete jerk, but one who is loyal to the core; Taylor makes him sound like a young Mick Jagger, all cocky and vitrolic, to a point I thought he had to have practiced that voice for hours. One thing I liked was that the book did not focus on having to level up or power level in such as hurry; it happened as it happened.

Again, Taylot was a palpable force while narrating. He played out the entire cast of characters in different voices, and their personalities shined through. He was a one man troupe in a play of dozens.

I also enjoyed the way in which the character used his head, rather than his hammer, to defeat his foes. It really came into play during the big "Godzilla vs Mothra" fight at the end.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.

This book really popped and stood out as a new take in a fledgling genre. If you are a fan of fantasy or RPGgamelit (LitRPG/GameLit) then you will regret not getting this book.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Irshad Karim
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2017-05-04

There's some potential here, but far from perfect

The premise is definitely strong - I've always loved the clash of the real and the virtual worlds, trying to come to terms with age old challenges in a new environment, with a chance to upset the balance of power.

That said, this book has a lot of weaknesses that keep it from really taking advantage of its own plot. It leaves much for sequels, but ends up focusing so much on the quests, the levelling, making them the primary focus rather than storytelling devices.

This is very much my own opinion, but I've always preferred litrpgs that don't rely on quests and interactions with npcs (unless they're really fleshed out) to drive the story forward. The thing about quests is that they feel inherently fabricated - it's like reading a standard fantasy novel, obstructed by the lens of VR and MMORPGs. Again, this is specific to what I look for in a litrpg, but my favourite titles have always been much more rooted in the interactions of real players, using the virtual world, the npcs, the quests, etc. as a backdrop.

Story aside, I did feel that the writing ckuld use some refinement. While there was some lovely turn of phrase, much of the vocabulary smelled of ex-roleplayers, who have a tendency of needlessly over complicating their wording. Complexity is not always the best choice.

Finally, the narration - generally not bad, a great variety of voices. My only issue was with the way there seemed at times a sort of forced sense of drama, especially at the end of each chapter, in the way the last few words were read. May have also been more if an issue with the writing itself, trying to punctuate every chapter with an almost campy concluding phrase.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Croda
  • 2018-12-19

Popcorn LitRPG

So, after having listened to a couple of the books in this series, I decided to come back to this one to write a review. At 3 books in, I'm not unhappy with the books I purchased, but I'm also probably not going to buy any others by this author. Considering the fact that there's nothing grossly wrong with any of them, I feel like my lack of investment in continuing with the series is somewhat telling.

Here's a brief idea as to what to expect. Jack's the hero, he's a good guy, and he's going to get into dangerous situations and triumph over them. There's a villain. He's a bad guy. There's not a lot in the way of moral grays here, with the exception of making questionable alliances.

The story has a rather interesting lead in as far as backstories go, but other than the basic premise, (forced into the game to escape the end of the world,) much of the backstory kinda gets ignored. You find out that Jack is or was an emt, mostly a loner these days iirc. Either way, there's a lot of care given to ensuring that you realize that being an emt is a big part of who he is. And yet, aside from one brief situation at the start of the game, it's really not something that plays much of a role in how he plays the game and lives his life. He just fully embraces his main character status. Only time it really gets brought up after that is to let you know how he's a decent guy.

Side characters are kinda generic. By way of example, the first person he meets in the game makes a big show of only being out for number one, but then proceeds to help Jack out at every turn, grumbling the whole way.

Now, there's nothing inherently bad about any of this, if this is the story you're looking for. You can kick back and relax and listen to about 9 hours of Jack kicking ass and being the hero. The fight and dungeon scenes can be pretty interesting. But to me, it lacked a hook to keep me invested in the story in the future.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tony G.
  • 2018-10-18

A genuinely enjoyable LitRPG

**MINOR SPOILER ALERT**

I've really been enjoying this series so far. I've finished book 1 & 2, and have just started into book 3.

Overall, I think that the story is solid, the pacing is well done for the most part, and the characters have been consistent. Sometimes books in this genre tend to be poorly planned and force the characters to shift irrationally to drive the plot, but I haven't experienced that so far in this series.

I think that the only qualms I have so far are with the narrator. They are fairly minor, but are constantly irritating. I don't like the way that he says the ending phrase of every chapter in an overly dramatic tone, even when nothing particularly dramatic is happening. There have been several instances where he really read the intended tone of a characters sentence the wrong way - Like they were just stating a fact, but he read it as being REALLY sarcastic and smarmy for no reason.

Besides that, I really dislike the voice that the narrator uses for most "monster" type characters. They come off like what a particularly dumb ogre would sound like as a puppet on Sesame Street. Just really cringey. The spider queen sounds like a really bad impression of Smeagol from LOTR. I've been right on the edge of just skipping past those parts several times.

And don't get me started on how he just covers his mouth with his hand to muffle his voice when he does Sophia's (The overmind) voice. Just, why?

That said, when he's not doing a monster voice, or reading the last line of each chapter, I think he does a great job. The main character is well done, as well as most of the side characters.

There are also small issues with the authors use of MMO terminology. I get the feeling that he doesn't actually have a ton of experience in that realm. Things like saying "Port hub" instead of "Instance". Or how the MC tells us several times that he's familiar with MMOs, but then consistently makes just god-awful choices, like not assigning 10 levels of stat points before going into absolutely critical battles.

You might also catch some of the errors where either the narrator just said something incorrectly, or maybe it was missed in editing. Things like saying RIL instead of IRL.

All in all though, I definitely recommend this series if you're into LitRPGs, or even as a gateway to them if you're interested in giving them a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you can suspend your disbelief a bit.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Noah
  • 2017-12-06

Decent book for this genre

Would you listen to Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm again? Why?

No, it is a decent book and I will continue the series but not good enough for a second listen.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Grim Jack is really the only choice, the other characters are not developed enough to be a favorite character so he wins by default

Any additional comments?

The story is good but not as good as other series in this genre. I do have a slight issue with the narrator also. He does a good job but he is WAY too serious, the entire book is read in a serious tone.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-05-22

Excellent Beginning!

This book is filled with beautiful plots and characters. Very fun to listen to!I recommend it for lovers of LitRPG!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-05-02

amazing story

amazing story, plot, and setting. the main character is a little dense at times and can make some of the dialogue a tad too long for me, but that doesn't take away from the story. I'm downloading book 2 now and going to start it tonight!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph R Dunn
  • 2019-04-27

Great Litrpg

This is turning out to be one of the best Litrpg books I have listened to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • The Bookwyrm Speaks
  • Graham, WA
  • 2017-06-14

My favorite LitRPG story to date!

LitRPG has been a hit or miss genre to me since I discovered it a couple years ago. While there are some really good books in it, there are also some that just seem to be trying to cash in by writing a generic story which just adds stats/leveling up and dungeon crawls and loot drops to be called LitRPG and grab onto the popularity the genre is currently having. That being said, Viridian Gate Online: Cataclysm, is not one of those. It is, in fact, my favorite title in the Genre, surpassing the Way of the Shaman series. That's a pretty good recommendation in my opinion.

Viridian Gate Online (VGO) has a fairly unique premise. The story starts off with Jack, an EMT, conflicted over whether he should get into the immersion pod for VGO provided to him by an old college friend that works for the company that developed VGO. The reason he is conflicted is that if he gets in and stays 72 hours, one of 2 things will happen. He could stay in, and his mind would be mapped and digitized and he would remain in the game as his character, Grim Jack, forever. However, his body would shut down and he would only survive in game. however, there is a one in 6 chance he would die before that in the tank, his mind rejecting the transition, and he would just be dead instead.

However, this is all kind of a moot point, since in 9 days, almost everyone will be dead. Yes, you heard that right. There is a 9 mile wide asteroid, 213 Astraea, headed for Earth, projected to land just off the coast of Greenland. Well, that's an extinction level event, so, game over, so to speak. Except for the ridiculously wealthy and survival lottery winners, planning to live in deep earth bunkers, the only way to "survive" is to immerse in VGO, where your digitized mind will survive in the 7 great overmind servers buried deep underground. Well, since Jack is the main character of the story, you can guess which path he chose.

After immersing himself in the game, Jack goes into the character development screen. He goes through the character race types, and picks Mirk Elf for himself (think dark elf) type, liking some of the character's natural bonuses. Being an experienced MMO gamer, Jack knows he has lots of choices in class for himself down the line, and the game doesn't force a class choice immediately. After he sets up the character, she starts the game play. He awakens in a cage in a dungeon lab, where someone has been vivisecting people. Not the most promising start to a game! He finds a piece of metal and tries to pick the lock on his cage. No luck. Someone then tells him its not as easy as it looks. In another cage is a prisoner, who offers to get them both out if he gives him the piece of metal after some discussion, he does just that. The man then picks his own lock and then come out and opens Jack's. The other prisoner is named Cutter, a thief. apparently they are in some evil dark priest's torture dungeon. No place they want to hang out in.

They make their escape, although along the way they discover an old mirk elf woman on the edge of death. She charges Jack to return her medallion to her tribe, to let them know how she dies. She also unlocks the shadow spark in Jack, allowing him some access to special abilities. This is now a quest for Jack, with the attendant quest requirements and rewards attached to it. After their escape, Cutter takes Jack to his city, where he introduces Jack to the local thieves' union hall, since thieves don't have a guild.

What starts here is the adventures Jack expected, since after some training, he goes on a series of adventures, collecting loot, leveling up, basically doing what everyone does in an RPG. After being contacted by his old college friend Abbie, he takes a teleport scroll and goes to meet her with Cutter. Being early, he decides to go into the nearby woods and go after mobs, killing monsters to level up. Well, he gets more than he expected, the monsters being much stronger than he thought, and he also meets a hamadryad who gives him a new quest. Returning to his landing point, he finds Cutter held at knifepoint by a Reeshie, kind of like an orc. Then Abbie comes out, and explains why she wanted to meet with him. She has Cutter released, and starts a discussion with Jack.

She explains she discovered irregularities in the code of VGO, that rich people have paid to have restricted areas and quests set aside, so that they could easily level up and gain legendary level weapons and gear, basically cheating to create a paradise with themselves at the top of the food chain. Abbie wants to end around that and see if they can circumvent it. They then start the set of adventures and quests that will determine the fate of VGO. Will it just be a rich persons paradise with everyone else a serf, or will it be a chance to excel for all? What follows is a set of epic adventures and quests, which test the mettle, heart and skills of Grim Jack and Cutter, meeting a wide assortment of characters and completing more and more challenging quests, all while finding out even deeper truths about VGO, and about what the world truly faces in game. He will have to make some life and

This book is a must read for any fan of LitRPG, or fan of good writing, actually. The characters are phenomenal, with Jack and Cutter being the standouts, but even the secondary characters and even the monsters are well drawn out. The dialogue is tight, and there is real emotional punch to the story. The world building is epic in scale, but so well described you feel as though you are right there in the thick of things, which is all you can ask from a writer. You can tell there is a much larger world and story out there, and that we are just being introduced to something grand.

Narration wise, Armen Taylor does a great job bringing each character to life. They all have their own personalities, quirks and voices. He uses tone, inflection and accent to differentiate each character. Overall, a top notch performance.

I cant stress enough how much I enjoyed this book. I truly believe it is the best LitRPG on the market today, and I hope the author has huge success with it and keeps writing more! I for one, will be in line to get the next installment.

11 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shayne
  • 2017-05-12

Great litrpg

Been through quite a few litrpg books in the past few months. Concept is solid and I have yet to here a scenario quite like this in any litrpg so far, so points for originality.

Do yourself a favor and grab this one. Short and sweet.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful