Hey everyone, thanks for joining me today for my first ever blog tour. I’ve wanted to host a tour for a long time but with a TBR list the size of Mount Olympus I didn’t think it would happen anytime soon. But I had the honour of receiving a copy of Entriss Online by David J. Pedersen thanks to the wonderful tour organizers back at Storytellers on TourEntriss Online is a fantasy and VR LitRPG adventure so if you like the genre, read on!

Book Information

Entriss Online by David J. Pedersen

Series: Watson’s Worlds (#1)

Published: January 5th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, LitRPG / GameLit

Pages: 482

Content Warnings: Non-graphic violence, Mentioned abuse

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They were shutting down Entriss Online, and Ian had no way to stop them. The game was his life — by day, as one of their lead developers; by night, gaming as the accomplished Mandorf the Wizard. After years of leveling up, both professionally and personally, everything he had worked for was going to end. His goggles-and-gloves virtual reality MMORPG was being replaced with Everyworld Online, a next-gen game that provided full immersion so players could experience a world that looks and feels real.

 

After stumbling on an unknown quest that kills anyone who approaches, Ian discovers an enormous amount of orphaned code that had never made it into the game. Moments before being fired, he checks in the code, enabling The Left Hand of God quest chain, an unexpected world event, and the frightening reality of a fully immersive Entriss Online.

I read this book alongside Kriti from Armed With A Book, so we used the Reading Experience chart she developed to rate different aspects of the book. For more information on how the scale works, you can find an in-depth explanation on her blog.

In her follow-up post tomorrow about Entriss Online, she will share the next part of our conversation which goes into more detail about each aspect of the reading experience for Entriss Online specifically.

My Reading Experience:

 

 

Cover

8

 

Cast

5

 

Emotional Response

4

 

Immersion

6

 

Plot

6

 

Storytelling

6

 

Thought-provoking

4

 

World Building

6

Kriti: After enjoying Firebreak, a book about a virtual reality game that is the reality people seek out, Entriss Online seemed like the perfect choice to try a different side of the story. What if the world that was so dear to people was going to shut down? What does that look like from the perspective of a developer and gamer? Those were questions I am curious to see play out. What about you, Erynn? 

Erynn: Firebreak was dark and dystopian, so I was looking forward to a lighter read about a VR world, and in that sense, Entriss Online seemed promising. It’s always exciting to read about the good guys fighting to save what they love from the people who seem to think fun is evil. 🙂 

Kriti: Agreed!  

Erynn: There was a nice balance between the in game and out of game aspects of this book, and while there was conflict in both parts of the story, I was happy to see that the end-of-the-world consequences were almost exclusively tied to the gaming part of the story. It was a nice change of pace for me. What did you think of the VR world and the quest right off the bat? 

Kriti: I really liked starting in the game and meeting Ian as his wizard alter ego.  

Erynn: Yes! I loved the way the story opened up. We were right in the action and in the fun, and Mandorf/Ian was being a badass and doing some good ole creative problem solving right from the start. 

Kriti: Entriss Online has a number of characters. We meet Ian who is a renowned player in the game, his coworker Julie, who is also a very good player, along with different people in the organization. The company itself is going to be sold and downsized and as a result, there is a lot of tension and sadness.

Erynn: Of all of the characters, I think we get to understand Ian the most, which makes sense since he’s the main character. You can tell from early on that he has a bit of a moral code that he sticks to, but it’s interesting to see how that changes throughout the book.

Kriti: I really liked seeing parts of game mechanics as screen shots throughout the story. Ian’s frustration with his characters, quests and abilities was supported by his stats. That helped with the game side of world building.

Erynn: Right, I really liked the addition of the skill tree visuals, it was a nice snapshot of Ian’s progress through the story and a nice way to see how his character evolved. It was interesting to see how he had the Focus Tree where he could choose his skills, compared to Ned’s staff where it seemed like he received random abilities that were just as likely to hurt Ian as help him.

At the beginning, the plot was pretty straightforward overall, and I noticed how, at the start of the quest, the format was really a typical MMO or RPG style. They were told to go to a place (the gnome village) and there were highlights/indicators to give clues as to how to end the catastrophe… but as the story developed, and the IMMO was upgraded into the 2nd generation IMMO, the quest itself seemed to change. It was almost like it became a parody of real life in that a bit of direction is given for what you have to do, but in a way where you have to figure out 99% of the details on your own.

Although the characters never directly reference this change in terms of the game mechanics, Ian and Julie DO comment on how upgrading Entriss Online to a 2nd Generation IMMO makes the world almost too realistic at times. That’s nice for them during intimate moments, but when it comes to combat? Not so much. I liked how Ian has several moments where the combat is ‘too real’ for him, even as a game. It helped me connect with the softer side of his character that isn’t always present. 

Kriti: For me, Entriss Online was a wonderful start in the genre of LitRPG novels. I am interested to see what other game world authors have imagined and how that interacts with the real world. This book reminded me of Ready Player One in some ways. Mostly, the writing was immersive and I felt like I was being taken on a journey. It was really easy to sink into the story, just like I would expect in a game!

Erynn: Early on, it was a lot of fun to read about Ian and Julie’s adventures and watching their relationship develop alongside the growing stakes inside the game as well as the real world. One thing that made the story more immersive to me was the simplicity of the game mechanics, I felt like it was pretty easy to understand the game side of things without getting bogged down in technical terms. In that sense, it was very much a fantasy adventure!

Kriti: I have a degree in computing science and work in IT. I understand the lifestyle of coders that the book was trying to depict. Being a woman in the gaming industry has been in the news lately with Blizzard’s scandal and it was really disheartening to see a company in the book  twist an employee’s innocent interactions with another as a means to threaten their job. 

Erynn: Yes, that was troubling, especially considering how much real sexual abuse, harassment, and assault is already overlooked in the gaming industry. Well, not just in the gaming industry, but in the corporate world in general. It was almost surreal seeing the reverse happen to Ian.

Kriti: I did feel though that the Entriss itself did not do justice to how far we have come in society and the games of today with different body type options and appearances. The female characters were very much sexualized and their attraction to Ian served a purpose in the plot to show Deity’s evolution, but it just didn’t sit well with me. That is one of the challenges of writing science fiction that is a few iterations beyond what we are already familiar with in reality. Enjoying the series means dispelling our reality and taking a leap from it. 

Erynn: I don’t have a problem with attractive female characters or even characters who drool over the protagonist of a book, but the lack of diversity did bother me. There weren’t any notable female characters, for example, who weren’t really interested in Ian at all. As you briefly touch on in our conversation about worldbuilding, more platonic friendships would have gone a long way for improving overall characterization in the book. Instead, it felt like the female characters in the story went out of their way to hit on Ian and at times I felt, as a female reader, that it was unrealistic and off-putting.

Kriti: We got talking about LitRPG and that made me wonder about the audience for the genre. I am not much of a video gamer while my partner plays a lot and most of all my knowledge of video game lingo and mechanics comes from talking to him. One of the questions that came to mind was whether this was supposed to be more for a male audience and author Edwin McRae had a very good answer for that:

[…] the vast majority of LitRPG writers are male, and males also form the bulk of the readership. There are notable exceptions, such as Carrie Summers who is a female LitRPG author whose series features a strong, female protagonist. But LitRPG seems to follow the same gender demographics as the RPGs they have been inspired by. […] In fact, most sources I’ve seen show a roughly 60/40 split between male and female players of MMORPGs. So just as the RPG world is male dominated, so is the LitRPG world.

And why would a gamer guy who doesn’t read much pick up a LitRPG? Once you dodge around the obvious but dubious appeal of the harem LitRPG titles that plague the genre, there are three main reasons that I can think of for picking up a LitRPG novel.

Kriti: McRae goes on to list them as plot vs description, empowerment and motivation. You can read the full Q&A here and let us know if you agree!

Overall, I enjoyed Entriss Online! It was even more fun discussing this one with you, Erynn. 🙂 I am glad we got to read a book by an indie author in a genre we wanted to explore more! 

Before we end, I am going to name 2 characters I loved in this book – Ned (even though he was mostly present because of his staff) and Marc. What about you?

Kriti: It’s been a lot of fun chatting about this book! I’m glad there were so many things for us to discuss. I look forward to reading more LitRPG in the future. As for my favourite characters…. Hmm I think that has to be Trevor and Marc. I loved how Trevor became towel buddies with Ian and Marc was just super cool and mysterious, I wished there was more of her!

***

About the Author

David J. Pedersen is a native of Racine, WI who resides in his home town Kansas City, MO. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He has worked in sales, management, retail, video and film production, and IT. David has run 2 marathons, climbed several 14,000 foot mountains and marched in Thee University of Wisconsin Marching Band. He is a geek and a fanboy that enjoys carousing, picking on his wife and kids, playing video games, and slowly muddling through his next novel.

Website: https://djpwrites.com/

Blog: https://gotangst.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/got_angst

Instagram: https://instagram.com/got_angst

Facebook: https://facebook.com/gotangst

YouTube: https://bit.ly/2OKle4W

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dTdCtL

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/got_angst

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Thanks so much for sticking around and checking out Entriss Online. Be sure to take a look at all of the other tour stops and head over to Kriti’s blog tomorrow!

—Erynn

 

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