City of the Dead by Vasily Mahanenko
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This LitRPG has some great balance in it.
There's some awesome world backstory that is as much mystery and exploration as any good SF, including archeology, and a massive amount of time for things to get really muddled. The fantasy is on par with adventure SF, as well. The main difference is, we've got a mysterious "god" that basically works as a DM and we've got menus and leveling up and attributes as well as loot handled the normal LitRPG way.
The fun part of all this is in how smooth and balanced it is. It's very much a YA and the young, young boy is pretty much always way out of his depth but the "god" is still making things fair -- as much fairness as you might expect when the kid isn't allowed to level up and hasn't been initiated as a mage, yet.
Honestly, I thought it was funny and glorious. A little hunting for materials as a beginning alchemist NEVER would have prepared him for this wild underground, ancient civilization exploration and survival adventure. It was so cute and impossible and yet, so, so sweet, too.
I'm extremely happy with this.
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