I’ve been purposefully putting off He Who Fights with Monsters 5 after the less-than-stellar outing from book four. As mentioned in my previous review, the pace and story had taken a sharp turn away from how the series had started. Coupled with all the negativity I read around books five and six, I was more than a little trepidatious. Having now finished book five, I can see why some of the comments were being made, but I also disagree with a vast majority of them.
First off, though, this book continues on from four with Jason doing what he does best, well, if you’re willing to include brooding and hating on government institutions in that list. I think a lot of the “author hates America” stuff isn’t warranted (though I can’t speak on what Travis’ views are), but the anti-American stuff is against the shady stuff the Americans are up to. Plus, it’s not just all hate their way; any government overstep raises his ire.
Coupled with him being the kind of insufferable know-it-all, makes him a little caustic at times, but it is also what makes him the person he is. He tries to be a good person, but knows there are some beings, be they magical, mundane, or mythological, that want to see the world burn and need putting down.
There’s still plenty of non-litRPG style stuff going on; more slice-of-life for a lot of it. But there are monster battles in pocket dimensions and on earth, making for a much more enjoyable book than the previous one, and plenty of laughs to break the tension.
I found fewer production issues with this one than I did with the last one. Heath Miller does a great job again, with a few not-so-good choices for non-Australian characters. Not all of them were bad, but some did feel a little cringy.
I’m glad this one picked up again. Jason continues to battle his inner monsters as much as the actual monsters. One thing I have noticed is that the books are getting a little shorter as the series progresses. This one felt like it ended mid-story. Either this was a deliberate choice to sell more books or a bizarre editing choice. Even at over twenty hours long, it only felt like half a story.