The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

Travis Bagwell's "Evolution (Awaken Online Volume 3)"

Travis Bagwell's "Evolution (Awaken Online Volume 3)"

Yo! Donte here, and I’m back with another review before I begin my Year in Review posts, wrapping up the highlights of 2018. What’s on the docket for today? The latest outing in Travis Bagwell’s Awaken Online series: Evolution.

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Travis Bagwell has quickly become one of my favorite authors, not just in the GameLit or LitRPG genre, but I general. The way he fleshes out the worlds he creates, while blurring the line between his game world and real world in such a believable way... Well, it's the work of a master in his element. He's never disappointed with the AO series, and he doesn't start with Evolution.

We pick up where Awaken Online: Precipice left off. Jason is left reeling from the fallout from what transpired at his aunt's house. Enter Cerillion offering Jason a new temporary apartment, and him being at the center of an active murder investigation and we have the groundwork for Evolution. At least for the real world side. In-game, we have higher stakes for Original Sin, and the game world in general, we have new characters (and a growing cast of characters you will want to succeed), and we have development just as good as previous entries in the series. Bagwell just does such a great job creating characters that are complex and fun to unravel.

On top of seeing new characters emerge (looking at you, Eliza & Fluffy), we see the game world's workings a little more in this one. We learn more about the history of the gods, though Bagwell does a good job of giving us tidbits and not the whole shebang. Gotta leave something for us to feast on later right? Learning more about the gods and why they choose and need "avatars" to represent them is interesting, and I would totally be down for an Old Gods type prequel. That said, I do wish that more of the real world problems were shown. I mean, two kids were murdered, and we spend most of the time in the game world. I admit I do I love everything about these books, so I'm not really complaining, but I do believe we'll see more of the investigation and fight for Jason's innocence/freedom sooner rather than later, so I'll let it slide this time.

All in all, another stellar outing!

2018 In Review: Anime

2018 In Review: Anime

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