Hey, Readers! Welcome to May!
I’ve covered several Super Hero books in the past (Stellar 1 and Stellar 2 for example. Oh! And Rise of Renegade X! That’s a fun one.) and LitRPG books were some of the very first I ever wrote about for Nerd News Social. (A blast from the past – Djinn Tamer: Starter!) I love both these genres and so was immediately drawn to Fluff. It combines these two types of stories and has some of the best visual branding I’ve ever seen.
Who wouldn’t immediately buy this? (I immediately bought this.)
The second book in the series was what grabbed my attention initially as I saw an ad for it while hunting for books to tell you guys about, but because I hadn’t read the first one yet, I went and snagged that first. Seems reasonable, right? I have Book 2 on standby for a later Spotlight as well.
For those unfamiliar, LitRPG books contain tables with numbers and statistics dealing with the characters within. If you’ve ever played a tabletop RPG or JRPG like Final Fantasy or Pokemon, think of it as a representation of the character sheet you use to know your characters strengths, weaknesses, abilities. All that kind of stuff. It adds an interesting layer of information to the proceedings.
Anyway! Grab up a blanket, some pizza and let’s plot some villainy!
- Author: RavensDagger
Formats: Paperback, Kindle, and Audible.
Prices: $14.99 for Paperback, $3.99 for Kindle and $34.79 for the Audiobook, or one Credit on Audible
Length: 349 pages or 12 hours 18 minutes in audio format.
Narrator: Emma Galvin
Number of books in the series: 2 at the time of writing.
Emily Wright is starting college and couldn’t be more nervous. Emily has been through several therapists to try and curb her near crippling social anxiety and starting this new chapter in her life is a HUGE deal for her. She, essentially, just wants to live the quietest life possible; going to classes, dashing back to the dorm room she shares with exactly no-one, doing homework. That kind of thing.
Something that you might not know, though is that in the world where Emily resides? There is an annual event called Power Day every September 15th. A random assortment of folks from all walks of life are suddenly gifted with a couple of things: A power and an alignment. Hero, Villain, Paragon, Demon, Do-Gooder, Vigilante. There’s a spectrum. This change is announced to you via a floating menu that appears above your head.
Emily jumps out of the shower, starts brushing her teeth and is greeted in the mirror by glowing text:
- Name: Emily Wright
- Alignment: Villain
- Power: Sister Summon
Suddenly this already stressed student has a whole other layer of worry to add to her life.
The other thing you should know is that Emily is actually a really nice person! Alignments are chosen, seemingly, at random. Being cast as a villain can happen to literally anyone. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to it… but being cast on the negative end of the spectrum is bad. Really, really bad. What’s less bad is that she accidentally activates her super power – sister summon.
Emily’s new sister, Teddy, is a bear-girl. In girl form she’s small and soft and has actual bear ears. But she can become a fearsome werebear at will, bigger than a grizzy, more ferocious than a polar bear. And luckily enough, because she’s technically a summon, she was born with an in-built knowledge of how the power system in this world works. Perfect for Emily who has no clue what she’s doing!
Emily realizes pretty early on that she needs to hide her alignment and work to change it. She’s offered various quests through her menu and when she accepts and then completes them, thy can affect her alignment long-term. Bad quests where you do bad things? More points into your villainous karma. Good quests where you do good things, though? Well. You might upgrade from villain to scoundrel if you do enough of those. And then from scoundrel to ne’er-do-well, and from there… well. You get the idea. While Emily has no intention of becoming a publicly known super hero? She doesn’t want to be arrested just for being classed as a villain, either.
Because that’s the thing… while there’s a veneer of order to this system, it’s just that. A veneer. And the people behind keeping it that way might just develop an interest in the girl who can summon a villainous werebear.
Can Emily change her alignment before she’s snatched up by a hero for the crime of existing? You’re going to want to read to find out!
This book was really fun! As mentioned in the preamble, I’m a fan of both super hero stories and LitRPG stories, so, seeing them brought together was great and very engaging. I also empathized with Emily right away as someone who also deals with anxiety in unfamiliar social situations. (Still. I think I’d still be psyched if I was gifted powers out of the blue.)
The characters are fun and interesting in their personalities and powers as well. Teddy meets with a street preacher who’s deal is the Communist manifesto and, being an impressionable little thing, this becomes a huge part of her personality. It’s an amusing mental image – a 9 foot tall bear that’s all claws and teeth and bristling hackles yelling about taking care of the proletariat. She’d happily devour a capitalist pig! Once she’s done with her honey glazed donuts, of course. Or a large meatlovers. Or both.
Some other sisters are introduced as well – I don’t want to spoil too much but they offer alternative takes on the situation Emily finds herself in and have cool powers in their own right! This is very much a found family story as well, as Emily begins to care for her newly summoned sisters.
One minor point of frustration I felt was with the naming convention for brands. It essentially uses the names we all know with the first letter omitted. For example, Google becomes Oogle. Which works fine! But some of them are a little less…. look. Corn Flakes are just a thing you can eat, not necessarily a brand name so saying that a person is eating Orn Lakes for breakfast kind of breaks the immersion for me. But this is a very, very minor point of contention in an otherwise great story.
I’m reviewing the Audible version and our narrator, Emma Galvin, does a great job. Very good definition between character voices and she makes Teddy especially sound adorable. I’ll definitely be checking out more of her work.
All in all, I especially recommend this book for anyone who’s interested in getting into LitRPG (It’s light on the tables so it’s not a super intimidating or crunchy read in that regard. A perfect primer for the genre.) or those who already enjoy them. People looking for a story about found family. And people who like stories about powered folks, of course!