Print this page

Cyber Squad (Cyber Squad #1) by Anna Mocikat book review

Write on: Fri, 20 Aug 2021 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 370

4/5

CYBER SQUAD - LEVEL 1: A GAMELIT/LITRPG LITE CYBERPUNK ADVENTURE by Anna Mocikat is a book about a man who gets the job offer of a lifetime: decoding bugs in a massive Elder Scrolls Online-like experience. Well, it's a lot better than the real thing since decoding in this world involves taking your avatar into the game and having them slay homicidal AI. Oh and if you die in the game then there's a non-zero chance that you'll go brain dead as a result. So maybe not the job offer of a lifetime except in the literal sense.

The basic story is about Kai living a fairly average but relatable life of a cruddy job at a Japanese restaurant and blowing off steam online between shifts. He doesn't have a girlfriend, his friends are dorky even by his standards, and his prospects are pretty dim. The chance to join the Cyber Squad happens after a chance encounter with one of their premiere team that saves his guild in virtual reality. Kai ignores the warning signs that his guild is a few members less in the next couple of weeks as it's all just a game after all. Right?

The story actually works primarily as a slice of life story with Kai taking the chance on a job application with the Cyber Squad. They look pretty badass online and it's not like he has much to lose my joining. Much to his surprise, he gets the job in and even getting in at the bottom level (Level 1 because the people at his new employers are cute) is twice his original salary. It also promises a lot more if he can meet their quotas and level up with Level 10 promising six figure salaries.

Kai is a likable enough protagonist and Anna Mocikat's real-life experience in the game development industry shines forth describing behind-the-scenes behavior. Kai's coworkers are a mixture of horny dudes, women struggling to be taken seriously, people doing it for the art, and a variety of super-pleasant corporate types who would rip out your heart without blinking. Okay, maybe that's just how I imagine the real life game industry to function but it's very entertaining to read. Kai quickly develops a crush on a number of the girls present but doesn't believe he has a chance in Hell.

There's a lot of humor to be found here as well as decent action. The whole premise of bug coding requiring you to actually fight it out with monsters doesn't make much sense but I think we all understand that it is a concession to drama. I'm not usually a big fan of LITRPG but I appreciate when attempts are made to make the leveling system make sense in-universe. The action is fun and the world-building is actually set up to become something greater. The ending of the book promises a good deal more in terms of the series.

Much of the book is set up for future volumes with none of the relationships moving beyond their early stages but a lot of groundwork being laid out. I think Kai is a good everyman protagonist and the way he adores his likely future love interest is fun but I hope he actually dates some of his other co-workers first. The supporting cast is also fun and the author gets a lot of humor out of one obsessed with marrying his video game character's spouse.

In conclusion, I recommend this novel and think if you like Lit-RPG then you'll enjoy this. I could have used a bit more spark between Kai and his girlfriends but I think that's destined to happen. It's got a lot of potential and I want to see how it all shakes out. This may only be the story to level 2 but it was well worth the money and I'm picking up the sequel when it comes out.

Available here

C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/