3.5/5 Stars, LitRPG Shenigans that had its moments.
Nice cover. Picked this up through Kindle Unlimited. It was highly reviewed which boded well since I have quite enjoyed my recent flirtations with LitRPG novels.
This story follows a pretty typical LitRPG format of an outsider-misfit, becoming a hero in an alternate dimension. In the case of Primal Hunter, Jake our loner hero, finds himself transported along with a thousand other random and luckless humans into a ‘vast’ multiverse. The story has the start-up and gaming elements of a massively multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG) where everyone gets to choose what sort of class they want to be, from sword & shield warriors, dual blade wielders, mages, healers, and hunters. For anyone that has played an MMORPG this will all seem very familiar. The classes each have different branches that a person can specialise in by levelling up and gaining experience and points, and professions can be learnt like alchemy and tailoring, leatherworking etc.
The story begins with Jake and a bunch of his work colleagues who are mysteriously transported to a magical fantasy world and find themselves in a start-up or beginner area. The penny drops pretty quickly after their first confrontation with the local wildlife, that surviving and getting better means killing anything that moves. Killing things earns experience which they need to level up and using weapons and abilities improves a person’s skill with them the more they are used.
So that is the general premise. Of course, humans being humans it all gets a bit ‘Lord of the Flies’ as some realise killing other humans pays big dividends in the experience stakes. Those most able and more morally questionable take advantage, bullying those less fortunate or capable, building tribes which then go head to head with other tribes.
Jake finds himself built for this world, all his inadequacies on earth mean nothing here but frustrated by his colleagues’ lack of gungho, daring-do, of trying to apply earth rules to this new world ends up with Jake heading out on his own after an altercation with another group goes badly.
I wanted to like this book but as much as the story is fast-paced, I found it also bogged itself down whenever Jake ‘levelled up’ or got new abilities to unlock. Pages and pages of exposition on every ability and why it was not the one for him. This only got worse as the story progressed and I found myself flicking through reams of abilities to get to the last one because invariably that was the one Jake would choose. Some readers may like this but for me, it was a frustration.
Jake did have a moral code of sorts running through him and was the stereotypical hero against all odds, on his own against the rest of the humans. Unfortunately, I did not find myself rooting for Jake. He was so OP (over-powered) and I found him a little hard to like. The story ‘within’ the tribes with the different antagonists all felt a little contrived and shallow. Like how thick are people not to see what was going on? The other component I found difficult to grasp was the escalation of powers. I mean this is a startup/training area but after a couple of days, it certainly didn’t feel like that. It felt like there was too much progression.
All that being said there were some highlights. I liked the undercurrent of hidden gods that played out. Loved the introduction of the Malefic Viper which lifted the story massively for me.
A lot of people have reviewed this book quite high and that is great, we all have different tastes and expectations but I’m afraid it didn’t quite cut it for me. Don’t let that put you off though. As ever if you like the sound of the premise above take a look inside. You’ll know pretty quickly if it is your cup of tea. For me, I find my interest in LitRPG waning, I need to take a break from the genre for a bit. I’m all levelled out.