Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Review: The Alterverse

The Alterverse: Book One of the Gamers Trilogy
Donald Semora
Self Published
ISBN: 0-615-30453-2

I’m always excited to read anything game related, so when Don told me he was writing a book about gamers, living their adventure, I was truly stoked. Gamers tell the best stories, afterall, and this guy is a player, GM, and game writer all in one.

When the book arrived in the mail* I was immediately impressed with how pretty it was; the paper is of good quality, the art varies from decent to great, and the layout is appealing. Definitely one of the better self-published paperbacks I’ve seen, and even above most mainstream titles in the same $10.50 price range.

What disappointed me upon further inspection was the number of typos. This, paired with difficult sentence structure, was pure distraction for me. I found myself re-reading paragraphs in an attempt to understand who had just said what. In all fairness, there was apparently a miscommunication of some sort with the printer, and the unedited version was sent out—I choose to be optimistic and believe that all of my gripes will be resolved with the second printing.

The story itself is good, but mildly cliché. I kept looking for something to break the mold; I was expecting to get rickrolled by the author, but that never really happened. The people that seem evil are the bad guys, and the guy you think is going to betray them all, does.

There were plot holes. Not huge ones, but ones that my own gaming group would have hounded me over if I ran this as an adventure. There were things that really stood out to me from the beginning as something that the party should have tried, and there were strategies and logic used that didn’t seem to fit their experiences.

Many of the elements that weren’t predictable seemed out of place or even illogical. Actions and dialog from many of the characters didn’t seem realistic. Some of these things may have been solved with more information from the author; for example, the seasoned warrior woman was nearly overtaken by something the untrained gamer geeks easily defeated; what other unmentioned variables caused this? The lack of detail almost seems to imply that she needed to be rescued just because she was a woman, or maybe the party was outnumbered by more than it seemed.

What I really look for in a novel is some major plot twist (which I suppose may come later in the trilogy), provocative social commentary, or some other element that really makes me think. I was disappointed to find nothing like that, only the story I went in expecting. This would make a very good book for young readers (if the grammar was cleaned up a bit), but I found it lacking anything of substance that would make it a classic for adults. It was probably better suited as a gaming adventure than a fantasy novel, though I do like the idea behind it. Not a bad first attempt by the author, but I want more.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the author for review