Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – Cheatc0de by Michael Campling (ARC Review)

The Uprising Box set is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

Book 8 finally brings us to Michael Campling’s novel Cheatc0de, book one in his Downlode Trust series, and out of the twelve books in the Uprising box set, this is the one which I have been the most eager to read. This is because I am already familiar with most of Mikey’s other books, and was a huge fan of his LitRPG novel Prison Quest, which he co-wrote with Saffron Bryant. Cheatc0de sounds like it could be very similar, and his Downlode Trust novels are the only books of his that I haven’t yet read.

 

The story centres on Hank, a teenager who uses his total immersion Virtual Reality gaming hobby as an escape from an otherwise difficult home life, and his father, Mervin an ex-military man struggling with his past, and the responsibility of raising his son single-handed. After finishing school, Hank straps in to his favourite VR game, hoping for a fun distraction from life. Usually a solo player, he unexpectedly encounters a fellow gamer called Will, who lures him into joining an unsanctioned mission with the promise of lots of easy money.

While sceptical at first, Hank soon warms up to Will as he realises that the two of them really do perform better as a team. However, Will is reluctant to share his secrets, and Hank begins to harbour doubts about his friend’s motives. Unknown to Hank, Mervin joins the game eager to relive his days in the military, and places both his own life and Hank’s in danger. But will the rewards of the game outweigh the risks and consequences for Hank? Can he complete the mission? Will he survive?

 

While this is not technically LitRPG, not like Prison Quest, I rather enjoyed the story. It was fast paced and engaging, and being a non-gamer myself I found the story simple, fairly easy to follow and mostly entertaining. The virtual world appeared realistic and well thought out, and it has a relatively small cast of characters, which I found oddly refreshing.

While technically it is another good novel from Michael Campling, I can only rate this at 4 out of 5 stars as there were quite a number of errors, which is unusual for this author. Also, I struggled initially with Mervin’s chapters as they didn’t quite gel together with the main storyline at first, and it wasn’t until later when he joined the game that it all began to finally ‘click’ with me and make sense. My final issue is the neat and tidy conclusion, which I thought fell a little flat. I was expecting a bit more action or danger, more nervous tension, or just something to give it more of a realistic feel.

That being said, I will be continuing on to read the next book in the series, book 2 The Trust, and those interested can find the Uprising Boxset on Amazon.co.uk here, or you can buy Cheatc0de as a stand-alone here.

 

See also:

The Bottle Stopper – Angeline Trevena

 

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Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – The Bottle Stopper by Angeline Trevena (ARC Review)

The Uprising Box Set is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge box set from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

Book 7 of the box set is called The Bottle Stopper, and is part one of The Paper Duchess series by Angeline Trevena. This dark dystopian fantasy follows the life of seventeen year-old Maeve who works in her Uncle’s apothecary shop.

Without a Mother to care for her, six year-old Maeve is taken in and raised by her Uncle Lou, a drunk prone to violence against women. Eleven years on, Maeve works in her Uncle’s shop bottling the Miracle Medicine that Lou sells to his customers. However, the medicine is actually foul water taken from the local river, and instead of curing people he’s really making them sick.

When her best-friend dies after a dose of Lou’s medicine, something deep inside Maeve snaps and as his violence towards her escalates and hidden secrets come to light, she begins to plot revenge and escape.

 

As mentioned earlier this is a rather dark, distressing tale which takes place in the slums and poorest regions of the fictional location of Falside. Society has regressed backwards to a point where women no longer have rights and are regularly abused and treated abominably. Even those in the richer areas don’t have it easy, being forced into marriages in a bid to correct the low birth rates of females which have skewed this society into a mostly male-dominated world.

In this unregulated low-class society, Lou falsely convinces his customers to buy river water masquerading as medicine, which makes me cringe in disgust. In fact, a lot of this book is difficult to read, not just the deplorable actions of this one man, but also due to the way it demeans women and the struggles that the poor face as they desperately seek an escape from the slums of Falside.

In this respect The Bottle Stopper is a very realistic story, intriguing enough to be enjoyable, but also rather distressing making it hard to choke down. What irritated me though, were the number of characters that were randomly introduced merely to provide information and little else of value. While the book isn’t all that long, it does sometimes feel a bit too drawn out. Once Maeve’s plan is put into action, it seems to take an awful long time for the story to reach a conclusion.

At 4 out of 5 stars I would definitely recommend this fairly well written book to those looking for a dark dystopian read, and who don’t mind reading about difficult issues such as excessive violence and abuse against women. Those interested can find the Uprising Boxset on Amazon.co.uk here, or buy The Bottle Stopper here.

 

See also:

The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

The Given – Colby R. Rice

Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

The Girl in the City – Philip Harris

The Watcher – A.J. Eversley

The Jacq of Spades – Patricia Loofbourrow

Cheatc0de – Michael Campling

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – The Jacq of Spades (ARC Review)

The Uprising Boxset is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

I have to admit that I struggled with book 6, The Jacq of Spades by Patricia Loofbourrow. I’m not a fan of steampunk novels and as a result I didn’t like this Victorian-inspired mystery noir. The story is set in 1899, in a domed city called Bridges which is split by four rivers, and containing an island at its centre. Four families are in control of this city; the Spadros, Diamonds, Harts and Clubbs.

The main character, Jacqueline is a poor woman from the slums who has married into one of the four major families, the Spadros family. In a bid to maintain some independence she secretly works as a private detective, and has been hired to investigate the case of a missing boy. Twelve year-old David Bryce has disappeared, and the only clue to his whereabouts is the picture of a red dog.

 

I neither enjoy detective noir nor steampunk stories, and this is no exception. To begin we are thrust into the centre of a world that we know little about, without any explanation or background. Prior events are drip-fed to us slowly in a confusing manner, via Jacqueline’s memories and dreams, which aren’t always linear in nature. While the major portions of background information regarding past events are separated from the main text, this isn’t always the case and the narrative sometimes jumps suddenly to and fro between current and previous events without warning, much to my irritation.

I also found it odd that the rich ladies were constantly referred to as ‘mum’ rather than the British term ‘ma’am’ which I would have expected, this was another aspect that I found confusing and which was never explained. Overall I found this book to be rather boring and baffling, always feeling like I was missing something important, something that would’ve clicked everything into place for the story to ultimately make sense. However, this never occurred.

I also feel that the mystery wasn’t really investigated properly, and not much of any real interest happens throughout the book, which meant that I didn’t really care what happened. It ended a little abruptly as well with too many aspects left unresolved, so at 1 out of 5 stars The Jacq of Spades has been the least enjoyable story from the Uprising Boxset so far.

However, those interested can find the Uprising Boxset on Amazon.co.uk here, or buy The Jacq of Spades itself here.

 

See also:

The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

The Given – Colby R. Rice

Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

The Girl in the City – Philip Harris

Watcher – A.J. Eversley

Cheatc0de – Michael Campling

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – Watcher by A. J. Eversley (ARC Review)

The Uprising Box Set is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

Book 5 is another young adult dystopian sci-fi novel, Watcher by A. J. Eversley. Robots created as slaves to humanity have revolted, turning against their creators. Coupled with the Carbons, robotic humanoids, together their goal is to wipe out humanity.

The book focuses on two main characters, jumping to and fro between their first-person narratives. First up there is Sawyer Russo, a member of an underground resistance movement known as Watchers, who help guard the surviving humans from attack by their enemy, by protecting the location of their secret base camp. The other is Kenzie, a fellow human survivor who the Watchers save from attack during a daring rescue mission.

With previous weapons experience, Kenzie attempts to fit in with his new comrades by joining the Watchers and Sawyer is tasked with his training. As Sawyer teaches the new recruit how to enhance and develop his skills, an unexpected relationship blooms between them. However, when the enemy discovers their location Sawyer is suddenly thrust into a precarious position and the line between friend and foe is thin.

 

The Uprising Box Set is a large collection of full length novels, and after quickly reading the first four books on the lead up to its release date, I became a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content within its pages, and decided to take a short break from it.

I struggled a bit to convince myself to return and review the remaining novels, not because I hadn’t enjoyed the previous stories, but because I was very apprehensive to read Watcher. The book’s cover has a comic book feel to it which put me off a little and made me tentative towards reading it. Truth being told, it didn’t look or feel like a book that I would be interested in, and coupled with my unsettled opinion of androids, and robots at war with humans, its synopsis alone was enough to have me consider skipping the story.

However, I’m glad that I decided to give it a chance as looks can be deceiving. It took me a little while to relax into this surprisingly enjoyable story, but once I did I found that I didn’t want to stop reading. My fingers were continually turning the pages, my brain eager to learn what would happen next. I found Sawyer a little self-involved, impulsive and petulant, but I loved the mysterious Kenzie, and just as I began to figure him out, a twist would have me rethinking his motives – Is he really a good guy? Or is he the enemy?

Watcher begins with plenty of action, and is fairly action-oriented which helps it to keep a good pace. It fills you in on the backstory of prior events in a gradual way spread throughout the narrative, as opposed to throwing it at you all at once like some dystopian books can do.

Unfortunately there were some grammar problems but all in all, despite my tentative reluctance, I actually enjoyed reading Watcher and look forward to reading more books from this trilogy. At 4 out of 5 stars I would recommend this to those interested in young adult science fiction.

You can find the Uprising Box Set on Amazon.co.uk here, or you can buy Watcher by A. J. Eversley as a stand-alone via this link.

 

See also:

Book 1: The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

Book 2: The Given – Colby R. Rice

Book 3: Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

Book 4: The Girl in the City – Philip Harris

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – The Girl In The City (ARC Review)

The Girl In The City – Philip Harris

The Uprising Boxset is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

Book 4 is a young adult science fiction novella called The Girl in the City by Philip Harris, which is set in the post-apocalyptic world of Michael Bunker’s Pennsylvania. I’m not familiar with Michael Bunker’s work so my knowledge on this is limited.

The Girl in the City is also the first in a trilogy of novellas from Philip Harris. They follow the story of a teenage girl known as Leah. She lives with her father, Andrew in a harsh dystopian world where they must scavenge in the city for survival.

As the book begins Leah is almost caught by the Transport Authority who govern the city, she escapes clutching a bag that she’s taken from a dying man; the contents of which she believes her father will be able to trade for food and/or supplies. Unfortunately, the object belongs to the terrorist organisation, TRACE and her actions have gotten her father arrested.

 

The Girl in the City is the shortest book in the Uprising Boxset, at just 80 pages long. Perfect for young adults or those who want a quick read. It has a good pace and while confusing initially, once the terms Transport and TRACE are explained the story is easier to follow.

There’s no background information about an apocalypse, or how the world became the way it is. Maybe this was explained in Michael Bunker’s Pennsylvania, but for those who haven’t read those books this is something we don’t really learn.

I actually quite liked the story, a little bit on the short side if I’m being honest, but definitely enjoyable at 4 out of 5 stars. Not sure if I’m willing to read more of the trilogy, but it works ok as a stand-alone story.

 

Those interested can check out the Uprising Boxset on Amazon.co.uk here, due for release on Monday Sept 17th, or you can buy The Girl in the City as a stand-alone novel, currently available for free, instead via this link.

 

See also:

Book 1: The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

Book 2: The Given – Colby R. Rice

Book 3: Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

Book 5: Watcher – A.J. Eversley

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – Hedon (ARC Review)

Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

The Uprising Boxset is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

Book 3 is Hedon by Jason Werbeloff, a dystopian science fiction story set in the fictional world of Shangri, the new post-apocalyptic name for the United States. Ruled by the Bhutanese empire, its citizens now trade in happiness, not money which is a thing of the past. Everything in measured by the happiness and joy that people receive and offer to others, and is strictly controlled by those they call the Tax Collectors.

Sexuality is also strictly controlled, with homosexuality the norm and heterosexuality frowned upon. Due to the problem of overpopulation (in a post-apocalyptic world?) in Shangri breeding is prohibited unless granted a special license to procreate and bear children. Those who don’t comply are severely punished.

 

Hedon has an interesting premise with its advanced technology that can track the feeling of happiness direct from people’s brains. It seems likely that sometime in the future the money that we currently use as currency will become outdated, instead being replaced with technology or other more sustainable methods. While I understand the idea that Jason Werbeloff is aiming for with the implants in this novel, I’m not sure the concept is realistic enough to work, or properly explained. Surely in order to monitor such thoughts or feelings like happiness and altruism, the implant must connect directly with a person’s brain. If this is the case, then I find it difficult to believe that once connected the implant can be easily removed without causing lasting, and probably irreparable damage to the user.

The book contains very mature themes and a lot of very graphic sexual scenes. I also disliked the Tax Collector character and the way he rode along in the ambulance, pulling rank and authority, continuously ordering the paramedics to turn away from accidents and injured people, so that he could pursue his own personal projects.

My intention had been to rate Hedon at three stars, I liked the basic premise even though it didn’t really seem plausible, there weren’t too many spelling errors and the story kept me interested within its well-developed world. However, I’m left confused at the ending as it didn’t seem to make much sense. As a result I’m only rating the book at 2 out of 5 stars.

Those interested can check out the Uprising Boxset on Amazon.co.uk here, due for release on Sept 17th, or you can buy Hedon as a stand-alone novel instead via this link.

 

See also:

Book 1: The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

Book 2: The Given – Colby R. Rice

Book 4: The Girl In The City – Philip Harris

Book 5: Watcher – A.J. Eversley

Uprising: 12 Dystopian Futures Boxset – The Given (ARC Review)

The Given – Colby R. Rice

The Uprising Boxset is a collection of 12 full length novels by various writers, all with the theme of dystopian futures. I kindly received an ARC of this huge boxset from author Michael Campling, and am voluntarily choosing to review each of the individual books contained within its 2,381 pages.

 

The Given is the second book in the Uprising anthology, and the first in the Books of Ezekiel series from Colby R. Rice. It is the year 2155 and the truce between the Alchemic Order and the Civic Order has been shattered by a terrorist attack on the Alchemist Summit. Now the two factions prepare for war.

As I began reading the first few chapters of The Given, I found it a little difficult to follow, with very few explanations or definitions being offered for some of the strange, unusual or unfamiliar language being used, such as Azures, Protecteds or Vassal. As a result I was a bit confused by the story and my reading was distracted by the feeling that I was missing something important.

However, the story did enough to keep me reading and I found that I gradually began to warm towards the main characters, 16 year-old Zeika and her little sister Manja. The book follows these two girls in their struggle for survival in a harsh, dystopian environment. Separated from their family, they must fight to stay alive.

There are numerous elements from differing genres throughout this novel, from dystopian science fiction, fantasy and even horror. While the basic survival story and realistic characters did enough to keep me reading, I found that it didn’t grip me and my interest waned as I failed to find any real point in the narrative. The story didn’t end and no aspects of the plot are concluded, but continue on into the next novel in the series.

The most interesting part of the book for me was some horror elements towards the end, as flesh-eating zombies attack the Guild. Overall though the book was rather confusing and had a number of spelling errors or missing words, as well as some mature language and adult scenes. As a result I would only rate The Given at 2 out of 4 stars. Unfortunately, it didn’t do enough for me to consider reading any more by this writer.

 

I have now changed my mind about the professional editing in the boxset, and after reading two out of the twelve books in this anthology my overall rating drops to just 3 out of 5 stars. Those interested can check out the Uprising Boxset on Amazon.co.uk here, which is due for release on Sept 17th, or you can buy The Given as a stand-alone novel instead via this link.

 

See also:

Book 1: The Sigma Surrogate – JT Lawrence

Book 3: Hedon – Jason Werbeloff

Book 4: The Girl In The City – Philip Harris

Book 5: Watcher – A.J. Eversley