Brian Rouleau’s Judicator Jane – Indie Book Spotlight

Welcome to November’s Spotlight, Readers! This month we have another cool LitRPG title! November and December Spotlights are ones I like to use to show off some giftable titles – know someone who has an interest in GameLit? This is a good option! Know someone who wants to get into it? This one is a good option! It also has a lot of Isekai elements as well so folks who are into that genre of anime/manga will find a lot to love here as well. Books are great gifts.

GameLit or LitRPG, for those who may be unfamiliar, is a genre of books that have included stats and other RPG mechanics. Every so often you get a table or screed of statistics in regards to not only the main character, but other characters of note. This is a fun way to keep tabs on the powers, abilities and general progression of characters within the world and can reveal surprising things about them. If you’ve ever played an RPG before, you already sort of know how this works – gain levels, stats go up!

So, grab a snack and a bottle of water. We’re about to traverse the wastes with Judicator Jane!

Book Stats

    Author: Brian Rouleau.
    Formats: Kindle, Paperback, and Audible.
    Price: $4.99 for Kindle, $18.99 for Paperback, and $21.99 for the Audiobook, or one Credit on Audible.
    Length: 396 pages or 14 hours 7 minutes in audio format.
    Narrator: Angela Clark.
    Number of books in the series: One at the time of writing with another on the way soon. (Also a video game in the works! Check out more here.)

Basic Premise

Jane King is a video game tester in Austin, Texas. Her Mom passed not to long ago and she lives in an apartment in a part of town that’s not exactly great. (Game testers aren’t exactly paid The Big Bucks.) If this wasn’t all bad enough luck to make you feel for her, she gets news at the start of our story that the game she’s been testing is no longer a Thing. The whole project has been shut down and so she suddenly also finds herself without a paying job.

….did she work for Bobby Kotick? We may never know.

She heads home, head filled with ideas and worries about what her next move should be.

That decision is taken out of her hands as she wakes up the next day with a mouth full of sand.

She’s been spirited away in the middle of the night and finds herself in a desert. Sand and blue sky as far as the eye can see. Suddenly, she’s not alone – a message from some kind of omnipresent voice rings in her ears and she’s presented with a hovering menu that she can’t ignore. She’s worked with VR menus that are kind of similar and after a moment or two of experimentation, she figures out how to work it. It’s all about defining her starting stats.

As a game tester, Jane soon realizes that there’s a bug in this system. She can not lower stats initially, everything starting off with a base of 5. But if she increases one to 6 using the additional points allocated, she can then reduce the value back to 5, and then to 4, 3 and so on till the stat reads 0. Then, those removed points can be re-allocated, meaning that for every statistic she lowers to 0, she can then add 5 points to something else. This only becomes more alarming when she realizes that she can also siphon off stats from all these weird advanced categories – fishing, blunt weapon use, cleaning, forging – and those siphoned off points can be added to her base stat total.

She does this and then places all the points she can into one stat in particular… Luck. She winds up with a total of 630 in Luck. Luck is a heavily misunderstood stat amongst most players, she knows, but it’s generally one of the most beneficial.

With that all out of the way, she needs to figure out her next move. Water, food and shelter.

The desert is vast and featureless beyond dunes and the horizon and so she just picks a direction and takes it, rolling down the slopes of dunes to expedite her travel. This is where she runs into her first real challenge – a giant scorpion who seems to think she’d be wonderful company for lunch.

It stumbles down the dune after her, impaling itself to death on its own tail spike and Jane gains a level. Isn’t that lucky?

Eventually she finds her way to a massive demon fortress! Will luck be enough to get her inside to where there’s surely some kind of food and water? Are there other humans in this new world or is it all demons and scorpions and saber toothed lions? And what exactly are these Legendary Class options she’s been presented with!?

You’ll need to read to find out!

My Take

So, those of you who have read along with these book spotlights will know that I love a good GameLit or LitRPG series. The very first one I did was for a monster catching/taming series called Djinn Tamer which was super light gameLit. This series, Judicator Jane, looks to be a bit more crunchy than some I’ve read and reviewed here, but not so much as say, Rule of Cool. It’s a nice middle ground but still super approachable for newcomers to the genre. The thing I enjoyed about Judicator Jane especially is that the stats are used in very story specific ways. For example, I’ve mentioned that Jane’s Luck stat total is 630. We later meet an ally character who likewise has a stat of 600-plus (Not Luck.) and it is interesting how such a high stat can alter the lifestyle of a character.

Jane herself is a good heroine! She’s optimistic, clever, kind and has a strong sense of justice despite originally coming from a pretty mundane origin. I always enjoy reminders that people don’t have to have exceptional backgrounds to BE exceptional; Jane is just a good person, so it’s nice to see her grow into a position of some authority. Her interest in gaming the system is always a funny little aside to how she navigates the world, too. Coming from a vocation where that kind of thing is the norm puts her in a unique position in this new world.

One interesting aspect of this story is that everyone Jane meets knows they’re beholden to stats and classes. People understand a lot about the system. They just get presented the stats window as soon as they’re born and as such have no ability to alter it in any way. They’re literal newborns without the presence of mind or physical ability to go in and alter things. Jane, getting the same opportunity as an adult with some knowledge of similar systems, has a clear advantage.

Our narrator, Angela Clark does a really great job! The voice she uses for system messages is especially amusing! She gives Jane a very light, fun voice and does a pretty good job keeping everyone separate and distinct. You’re never left wondering who is speaking.

A highly recommended read from me!

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