The Second Age of Retha Series is about a woman, Kit, who gets trapped in a full-submersion video game. It begins with The Luckless. Kit’s cousin works for the gaming company and makes sure that she is stuck with the worst character possible. He did it as a prank, but the game breaks, and she - along with the other players in the game - can't get out. What ensues is an adventure to beat the main boss and get automatically kicked out of the game. Unfortunately, Kit can't do it alone as she has no defensive abilities, and she is really easy to kill. But she's smart. She gains several friends along the way, including veteran players who really help out, and they set out on their quest.
I feel like I need to give some background about myself to explain why I enjoyed this book so much. I grew up with an older sister and younger brother who were much better at video games than myself. To the point where it was way more fun to watch them play (oh, Spyro, how I love thee) than to play myself. This still hasn't changed much. Now I watch my husband or brothers play the new Zelda game. I've tried playing, but I'm 1) terrible at it, and 2) I hate having to fight the monsters. In fact, I fight as few as possible and run as often as I can. If I have to fight some, I usually find high ground and drop bombs on them. This does not good game play make. Reading The Luckless was kind of like watching someone else play video games for me. It was both fun and interesting.
I am, obviously, not a serious gamer. The author of The Luckless is. There are some terms that will be unfamiliar to non-gamers, but she makes it pretty easy to keep up. There's a bit of a learning curve at first, but it's so worth it. The story is told beautifully. Her landscapes are vivid, and her characters are realistic. She even has added a person who has never played before, who reacts the way I probably would.
The Desperate Quest is book two of the Second Age of Retha series by A. M. Sohma. And Oh. My. Gosh. I may have liked this one better than the first. Which is saying something. It continues the story, and it is marvelous. I don't want to give too much away because it's such a fun adventure, but I will say that the team is split apart at the end, and several of them have to make a very difficult decision. You also get to learn a bit more about who each of the characters is in "the real world."
The romance in this one actually exists...ish, and Solus Miles is in it a bit more. He even helps them level up. I mean, any romance is still only getting started. Also, Miles kind of makes a dumb choice at the end, and he has to pay for it. Kit's understanding, but he should have stood with her.
Book three is The Revived, and it’s just as good as the other two. I don’t want to give anything away from The Desperate Quest, so I’m not going to write a summary. I will say that this series is meant to be a five-part series, so we’ll be waiting a bit for the next two books. And by “a bit”, I mean probably like a year.
This is a great book series for preteens and teenagers (and up). I don't know that preteens would enjoy it as much, but I don't think there's really anything objectionable in it. There is fighting, but it's not graphic. There are some villains and monsters that might be considered frightening, but it's really not bad. I will say that the main character dies a lot, but it's usually pretty comedic, and she respawns immediately somewhere else.
This is an adventure story. There isn't really much romance in this book, so if that's what you require, you're not going to get it. Also, like I said before, there's a bit of a learning curve at first. There are a lot of gaming terms used that you have to understand to follow what's going on in the story. I get that this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I'd still say give them a chance. They’re different than other fantasy books, and they’re better than most of the gamer books I've seen. I tried a few after reading The Luckless, and the others are ... not as good. I think those are probably written by and for hardcore gamers. Which I am not. This one is fun for everyone. It has relatable characters and a (blessedly) simple storyline. I don't mean simplistic; I mean something that is easy to follow and makes sense.