Radioactive Evolution by Richard Hummel – Review
What happens when the Road Warrior gets a pet dragon? Let’s find out…
Jared is alone and living in the base of a ruined Statue of Liberty in post-apocalyptic New York City. Like all remaining people on the ground, his body contains nanites that allow him to stay alive amongst the radiation. Since his nanites need periodic boosting, he scavenges around NYC to find nanite boosters, guns, ammunition, etc. While exploring a subway station/tunnel, Jared hits the jackpot and comes across a rock that produces an electric shock, takes it for later study and turns out to be a dragon egg. Hey, the world has dragons. Who knew? Well, that’s part of the story.
In short order, his dragon companion Scarlet is born; it turns out that by “bonding” to Scarlet through nanites, Jared can essentially level up and pick up “magical” skills through killing mutated creatures. Also, Jared gets a quest from Scarlet’s mother to protect the remaining dragons that have been in hiding for thousands of years. Thus, Jared and Scarlet start their adventure to find and defend the new dragons and grow themselves stronger. There is also a subplot about getting back at the rich folk that live in cities that float in the sky and the water, they are somewhat responsible for the awful conditions on the ground apparently, but that’s only touched on as motivation to push the story along.
The combination of post-apocalyptic survival and dragon story is an interesting fusion of those two sub-genres and is woven together in a way that feels surprisingly logical. I also give the author credit for introducing a gamelit/RPG system based on nanites and the dragon’s ability to contextualize the nanite’s powers for Jared. While the justification for this mechanic is not made clear in the book, it wasn’t hard to just go with it.
Jared and Scarlet are solid main characters, and their dialogue is sometimes informative, sometimes funny, and sometimes sickly sweet. While the mechanic to “bond” the two is artificial through nanites, they seem to take to each other awfully quickly. I would have appreciated a bit more focus on why and how they get close. Jared appears to be a capable scavenger with a strong moral center and a good amount of banter centers on Scarlet’s eating habits and Jared’s morality.
The middle of the story tends to drag somewhat, which to be fair often happens in stories like this where the main character will often spend time grinding to get stronger or, in this case, gets into many monster fights that are well done but aren’t interesting enough to warrant that much attention. The ending has some interesting twists and turns, but as this is clearly part of a much larger story arc, the ending feels abrupt. On the positive side, I do look forward to completing this story in future instalments.
I think that readers interested in the bleakness of survival stories and those interested in the wonders of dragon stories will enjoy this author’s initial effort.
Review 2 –
Not crunchy, just delicious! This is the counter to Harem gamelit-a story wholesome enough I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to younger or more romantically adverse readers. The game elements are integrated into this fun, post-post-apocalyptic world. Levelling is fun, more organic than system notifications, which makes it very immersive. The effort he put in to make this book shine is clear, and it makes reading so enjoyable! Definitely, an author to watch! 5/5 stars