Description Hell. This was absolute hell. Every day was hell to 2244, an NPC in the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game known as AO. Just another prisoner of the game like all NPCs, she never expected her wish for freedom to be granted in such a grandiose way; a big event in the game leads to her suddenly becoming a mother, a hellspawn, and a queen, all within a matter of moments. Now tasked with maintaining a balance between keeping the Game Masters happy and trying to take down all of AO, 2244 discovers that there's much more to this game than just slavery and item upgrades.
Author Terra Snover pitched "Another Online: All Hail the Queen" to me as "Wreck-it Ralph meets Handmaid's Tale" and I was in, no questions. A brilliant elevator pitch if ever I heard one, but also rather accurate.
I enjoyed every second of this story. Snover's bio says she grew up loving video games and RPGs, and you can feel that throughout this story. The story sucked me right in, to the point I kept forgetting to take review notes and just listening to action.
Snover has carved out a thoroughly engaging universe, with unique takes on common tropes and themes. Interesting game mechanics without bogging down in backstory. A different take to any I've read before on how the NPCs came to be. Not a sudden glitch making them self aware, something more sinister.
The start was a tiny bit slow, but it fits the story. N2244 is a lowly NPC character, stuck in a supply shop selling goods night and day to player characters. Time ticks by, ever so slowly without a break to sleep or leave the shop.
Of course, all this was bound to change. One major game update later and not even the mysterious Game Masters could have predicted what would come next. Increased to totally OP proportions, N2244 is suddenly a very major character in the game.
The over-poweredness works though because of the story that was built around her. At least at first she felt OP. Once you realise the power she wields wasn't truly earned, she's more like a noob with a grenade launcher... big gun but no tactics.
The battle scenes are fantastic, straight from the mind of a gamer. Clever use of in-game mechanics to bend the rules as far as possible led to plenty of great moments. But there are some truly sinister things happening behind the scenes of the game, which we're given tantalising looks at throughout the story. I can't wait for the next book to see where this story is going!
Now, for notes on the narration. I'm in two camps on this one. First, I think Shannon Nicole Hamilton did a fine job voicing the characters. They were (mostly) enjoyable to listen to... though one excitable player character got a little grating by the end.
That all said, I found the entire production to be lacking in tonal depth. It seemed very tinny, like all treble and no bass, so no richness or depth which I sorely missed. Plus, some choppy editing in places, mismatched tone and volume occasionally where lines had been spliced in. It wasn't enough to put me off listening, but the inexperience of the narrator was quite noticeable.
All up, a great story and a great start to a series. I'll definitely be giving them a listen once they're available.I was given this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. I have not let this gift affect nor influence my opinions of this audiobook and have left an honest review.