Desert Runner Omnibus by Dawn Chapman
Narrated by Andrea Parsneau
“No one messes with Maddie and her Hog”
Lit: This book was interesting in a literary aspect. Contrary to the norm of this genre the main character is actually an NPC “gone rogue/becoming self aware”. This type of archetype is often seen in the background for a LITRPG but hardly taken as the focal point. Dawn Chapman does her damndest to bring the world of Puatera Online to life in the first book, but the story really takes off in the second and third. With that being said, do yourself the favor and grab the omnibus collection right off the bat.
The cliffhanger for book one would have driven me insane, whilst waiting for the others to come out. So many questions go unanswered in the first book that you have nothing left but to crave more.
On the surface, the story is pretty simplistic. An AI dies then is reborn with her memories intact. This allows her to start making decisions outside of her original programming parameters. Upon meeting Alex, the AI “Maddie” is taken on a quest to help Alex cross the desert to deliver a package. At the end of the first book, Maddie is confronted by the same beast whom has killed her before thus unlocking her memories for her new life.
The second book picks up back in the game with Maddie trying desperately to help Alex. Eventually Maddie discovers just how special of an AI she really is.
RPG: Puatera Online is a post-apocalyptic type world with a very “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” feeling to it. Personally, I kept seeing Maddie as a leather-clad Tina Turner badass prowling the desert for enemies and escorting players to safety with the help of her monstrous vehicle “Hog”. Named for its first kill, Hog is a brutal war machine as used to the raided desert landscape as Maddie herself.
Monsters, evil humans, swords, daggers, potions, all of the things we love about RPGs are represented in this book in a classic and loved way. The fighting that does take place will ring memories of several classic gaming scenarios throughout the book. For example, close to the end of book 1; Maddie is confronted by two vagabonds who have held a family hostage. Bearing her twin daggers and being ready to rumble, Maddie soon discovers that these men aren’t at all what they had appeared to be at first.
Audio: Andrea Parsneau once again graces us as an audience in another fantastic iteration of her talent as a narrator. Somehow, keeping the same voice, she still manages to bring life to so many characters and the world itself that you are lulled into a comfortable and loving embrace of storytelling. Look out for this narrator, she is going to make serious waves in the perception of audiobooks in the future to come.
Overall: 6/10 (too much romance for me)