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.