Solarversia’s Cover Art.
Two words: Virtual Reality. That is what the new LitRPG novel, Solarversia by UK author Toby Downton, is all about. Before I dive into this review, let me give you a little insight into the fairly new, rapidly growing genre that is LitRPG. According to Goodreads.com, LitRPG is a new form of science fiction:
“It’s not exactly Fantasy, but a popular sub-genre amongst Korean, Japanese and Russian readers called LitRPG. It’s a mixture of Science Fiction, Sword and Sorcery and MMO/Reincarnation elements within the books.“
That brief genre description is enough to get me excited about the entire genre and specifically about diving into Solarversia, The Year Long Game.
The year is 2016, in four years a new virtual reality videogame called Solarversia will launch. Players from all over the world are eagerly creating their avatars, registering their player number and designing their land, sea and air vehicles. While an immersive, virtual reality MMO is exciting in itself, the launch of Solarversia has further significance: it is the start of a year-long videogame competition known as The Game.
The Game will take place every four years and each winner receives millions of dollars, a position at Spiralwerks (the company behind Solarversia) and rights to help design the next Game. Sounds good, right? Well, when there are 100 million players and only a million of them will have a chance at winning, things quickly get complicated and a lot more intense.
Enter Nova Negrahnu.
Nova Negrahnu. Grid Number: 515,740. British.
It’s the year 2020 and the wait is finally over for Nova Negrahnu, the book’s young protagonist. With only minutes away from the launch of Solarversia, Nova and her friends, Sushi and Burner, prepare to login for the first time since making their avatars four years prior. After obsessing and fantasizing over anything Solarversia, they are ready to finally start The Game.
The rules of The Game are pretty straight forward.
- Only 100 million players may compete.
- Of those 100 million, only the first million who survive the year and complete The Game’s “Bucket List” will make it into the final stages of The Game.
- The Bucket List is a monthly collection of activities and challenges players who want to win The Game must complete before the end of the year. Some of the list items may be as simple as going on a tour of an in-game location. Others are more dangerous and challenging that may cost the player a life.
- Speaking of lives, players have three. Once a player runs out of lives their character is deleted from the game world. Permanently.
- Only the players who master all aspects of Solarversia, otherwise known as “The Science,” will have a chance at making it into the coveted final million.
- “There can only be one!” is the slogan of Solarversia and refers to the fact even if you make it into the final million, the remaining players will have to compete in a series of elimination rounds until there is only one player left.
With the odds 100,000,000 to 1, Nova and friends plan on making it to the end!
Solarversia author Toby Downton.
While that about covers The Game, there is so much more to this book than just an epic gaming competition. For starters, Nova is just one of the book’s primary characters. Downton frequently switches perspectives to those of Casey Brown and Artica “Arty” Kronkite. But first, lets talk a little bit more about Nova.
Nova starts off as a fairly likable, albeit a bit spoiled, young student who doesn’t think of much outside of gaming and her friends. For instance, her father has been unemployed for months yet she still asks for a top of the line virtual reality headset for her birthday. Throughout the book however, you get to see Nova grow into a better person. You’re right there with her as she deals with her hardships and celebrates her victories (both online and off). Its these points in her life that eventually shape her into a “Super Nova.”
Throughout the book, both the virtual world of Solarversia and the real world are being terrorized by a mysterious, tech savvy cult called “The Holy Order.” The Holy Order has its own agenda and goals for how the world should be and are working very hard to make it that way. Casey Brown is one of their newest recruits. After a grueling initiation process, Casey finally gets accepted into the Holy Order and slowly becomes an integral part of the organization. I really liked Casey. He’s a young, 20-something with a broken past, but is looking to The Holy Order to give his life purpose again. Similar to Nova, you watch Casey go through many different challenges within The Holy Order that shape him into a different person.
Not nearly as deep a character as Nova or Casey, Arty is just as interesting. Artica Kronkite, is the CEO of Spiralwerks and the creative brain behind Solarversia. He is a very caring individual who only wants the best for his staff, Solarversia and all of its players. Arty really humanized the book for me. While Nova sort of represented the “virtual world,” Arty represented the real world. You see him work on design issues in Solarversia, discuss communication strategies with his assistant and even work with law enforcement in an effort to thwart The Holy Order. Arty was always a refreshing reminder that the world still exists outside of The Game.
The Golden Grid
I’ve always been a huge fan of LitRPG books like Ready Player One. Solarversia is no different. It’s kind of like reading a videogame instead of playing it, which is awesome. But Toby Downton doesn’t just want you to read Solarversia, he wants you to play it as well. How do you play a game that only exists in fiction? Easy. You make it!
Downton is actively planning on CREATING Solarversia by the year 2020. How great is that!? He is even creating the Golden Grid (seen above) which was used in the book. To learn more about Downton’s vision of Solarversia, please head over to the official website. From there you can sign-up to receive more information on the creation of Solarversia and the spectacular Golden Grid!
There can only be one! And Solarversia is it. Grab your paperback copy of Solarversia today on Amazon for only $14.39. If you have a Kindle however, you can download Solarversia for FREE for a limited time. I am not sure how long this promotion will last, so grab it quick! Also, look forward to my interview with Toby Downton himself coming out later this week! It’s going to be a great interview, I’m sure!
Images from solarversia.com
Can't Wait for the Real Game
If you're a fan of gaming, you'll be a fan of Solarversia. It was so easy to visualize myself as Nova, playing, competing and praying to the gaming gods for that extra bit of luck we all need every now and again while playing.
If you didn't catch it earlier in this review, Toby Downton is planning on making Solarversia a real game too. So I'm sure reading up on his book will help you with the Science. It's never too early to start!
And remember....There can only be one!